PHOENIX – Cheyenne Woods revealed Tuesday that she finds special motivation in an extraordinary letter her grandfather wrote 21 years ago.
Earl Woods, father to Tiger and grandfather to Cheyenne, was doing some paid scouting for IMG at the time, according to Cheyenne. He regularly filed reports to IMG on promising juniors who caught his eye. He filed one handwritten report touting Cheyenne as future star.
She was 3 years old.
That’s not a typo. Cheyennne was just 3 when Earl sent IMG a detailed scouting report about her.
Cheyenne, 24 now, said Earl told her about the letter while making her breakfast one day when she was 9 or maybe 10.
“I think [IMG] kind of laughed about it,” Cheyenne said at the JTBC Founders Cup, which is a hometown event for her. “I asked him what he had written, and he wouldn't tell me. He's like, `You'll find out one day when they come to recruit you. You'll be going to the LPGA, and you'll be able to read it.’”
The man was prescient.
In fact, IMG did come recruiting Cheyenne when she was a senior at Wake Forest. The agent came bearing Earl’s handwritten letter.
“I got to read it,” Cheyenne said.
The letter meant so much to Cheyenne, she asked for a copy. Today, it sits framed on a wall in her mother’s home in Phoenix, among trophies Cheyenne has won.
“I have it, and I always think about that, because that's the one thing that's really pushed me over the years,” Cheyenne said. “My grandfather passed away when I was, I think, 14, but I know how much he believed in me. So, that belief in me really has pushed me throughout the years to really just get through anything.”
What did the letter say?
“He spoke about how I swung the club, the look in my eyes when I had the club in my hand, and things that he thought I would do once I turned professional and once I was on LPGA, the effect I would have on the game,” Cheyenne said. “That sort of stuff.”
Jay Burton, who represents Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer today, was the IMG agent who came recruiting Cheyenne with Earl's letter.
"It was a bit of a surreal moment for me," Burton said.
There was wonderment knowing all those years earlier Earl had somehow foreseen him carrying this letter to Cheyenne.
"I couldn't help think, given Earl's intuition, what a historical document I had in my possession," he said.
Cheyenne is an LPGA rookie this season, earning her membership through LPGA Q-School last December. She got her start in golf much the same way Tiger did.
“I picked up my very first golf club in my grandfather's garage when I was like 2 or 3,” Cheyenne said. “It was one of Tiger's old cut down clubs. I guess Tiger was there, too, and I kind of picked it up and started swinging, and then my grandpa got me my first set of clubs when I was about 5.”
Cheyenne’s father is Earl Woods Jr., Tiger’s half- brother.
“Neither of my parents ever played golf,” Cheyenne said. “They didn't know anything about golf. We'd watch Tiger here or there, but they had never been to a driving range or anything. My grandfather really told us what to do, what programs to be a part of, how to go about having fun with the game while still improving. So, my mom would chauffeur me around to lessons. I started with lessons and then we'd go see my grandpa during the summer, and he might come and watch me play, but, really, he was there for guidance.”