C. Woods' road to LPGA begins on Symetra Tour

By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2014, 3:39 pm

Cheyenne Woods is giving the Symetra Tour’s season opener a bonus billing.

It’s also now Cheyenne’s homecoming.

After a big breakthrough winning the Australian Ladies Masters two weeks ago, Woods comes home to tee it up in Friday’s start of the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic, the launch of the Symetra Tour’s new season. The developmental tour is known as “The Road to the LPGA,” and that’s exactly where Woods hopes her commitment to the Symetra Tour leads.

Woods, 23, couldn’t ask for a better place to start the journey. She grew up in Phoenix, just down the road from Mesa’s Longbow Golf Club, home to this week’s event. She has her own apartment in Phoenix. Her mother, Susan, picked her up at the Phoenix airport Monday afternoon after a 22-hour, two-legged flight back from Australia. Friends were waiting for Cheyenne when she got to her apartment.

“It was so exciting,” Woods told GolfChannel.com. “Everyone was so excited, and it was nice to see that.”

The only time Woods got emotional in her media interviews immediately after her win Down Under was when she thanked her family back home. She choked up.

“Growing up, my family was so supportive,” Woods said in a telephone conversation Wednesday with GolfChannel.com. “They were my No. 1 fans. My mom was everything, in terms of taking me to golf lessons, supporting me at junior events. She made sacrifices to get me where I am today. I got emotional because my family wasn’t able to travel with me to Australia, and they didn’t get to enjoy that moment with me after all the hard work we’ve all put into my game.”

Photo gallery: Cheyenne Woods through the years

Woods is niece to Tiger Woods. Her father, Earl Jr., is Tiger’s half-brother, born into Earl Woods Sr.’s first marriage. Cheyenne’s parents divorced when she was young. Both Susan and Earl Jr. will be following Cheyenne at Longbow this week. So will lots of other family and friends. Cheyenne has two older half-brothers.

“My family doesn’t get a lot of chances to see me compete,” Woods said. “They don’t travel a lot. Some haven’t seen me play since high school. Some have never seen me compete. For them to be able to come out this week, it will be special.”

While Woods’ victory at the Australian Ladies Masters earned her a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour, it did not gain her any status to play the LPGA, and that’s the destination Woods is working toward. That’s why she’s making the commitment to the Symetra Tour. She plans to play some more LET events this year, too, but it won’t be her primary focus.

“I’m going to focus on the Symetra Tour,” Woods said. “As of today, my plans haven’t changed. I think long-term, that’s the best decision for me. I’m able to play their entire season, with a chance to earn my LPGA tour card with a top-10 finish on the money list. I also have European Tour status, and I’ll play there when I can, but for now my plan is grinding out here on the Symetra Tour.”

Woods is also planning to play the Volvik Championship next week at Industry Hills Golf Club’s Eisenhower Course outside Los Angeles. It will mark Woods’ fifth consecutive tournament. That’s a long haul given three of those events were international.

“I took a day to rest when I got home,” Woods said.

Woods credits her breakthrough Down Under to the work she did on her short game with her long-time coach, Mike Labauve.

“In the offseason, we didn’t really focus on much other than wedges and short game,” Woods said. “That’s something that I think really made the difference for me.”

Woods failed in her first two attempts to get through LPGA Q-School in 2012 and ’13, but she went overseas and earned a spot on the LET, playing it as a rookie last year. With the Symetra Tour expanding opportunities this year, Woods could get up to 20 starts on that tour. The Symetra Tour schedule was boosted from 15 events a year ago.

While the Aussie Ladies Masters triumph might not have gained Woods an LPGA tour card, it did enhance her attractiveness as a draw for LPGA tournament directors with sponsor exemptions to fill. Woods played the LPGA co-sanctioned Women’s Australian Open on a sponsor’s exemption last week, tying for 23rd, her best finish in seven LPGA starts as a pro.

Woods is represented by Mark Steinberg, also Tiger’s agent at Excel Sports Management. His team is helping her sort through opportunities, including a likely flood of sponsor invites.

“We’ve received a tremendous amount of interest in Cheyenne,” said Andrew Kipper, Woods’ day-to-day manager at Excel Sports Management. “We’re evaluating the best path.”

As an LPGA non-member, Woods is allowed to accept six sponsor exemptions this year. Her win Down Under also gets her into the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship through LET eligibility criteria. Those starts won’t count against the five sponsor invites Woods has left this year. Also, she plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. If she does, that also won’t count against her limit of sponsor invites. That’s nine potential LPGA starts in 2014.

Basically, there are four ways Woods can earn LPGA membership, but only one way she can earn status to play that tour as a member this season:

• By winning an LPGA event this year, Woods would gain a two-year exemption as a tour member. She could accept immediate membership, or defer membership until the start of next year.

• By accumulating non-member winnings that are the equivalent of top-40 money on the final LPGA money list, Woods could claim LPGA membership for 2015. Non-member money winnings only count in events with a cut.

• By finishing among the top 10 on the season-ending Symetra Tour money list, Woods would earn LPGA membership for 2015.

• By advancing through LPGA Q-School’s final stage at season’s end, Woods would earn membership for 2015.

Wherever Woods path leads, she starts with terrific momentum from her LET victory.

“It was a huge accomplishment for me,” Woods said. “I just gained so much confidence in my game and my ability.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''