A name for herself: Cheyenne Woods earns LPGA card

By Randall MellDecember 7, 2014, 10:53 pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Cheyenne Woods is blessed with a special name that could easily have become a curse when she decided to play golf.

She is, of course, niece to Tiger Woods.

While there’s pride in that, there is, psychologically, a potential prison sentence in it, too.

There are overwhelming expectations that could seem impossible to escape every time she tees it up. There’s also a sense that the name opens doors and clears paths that ought to make the game easier for her.

That’s what makes Cheyenne’s achievement Sunday at LPGA Q-School so meaningful to her. She earned her tour card the hard way.

Photos: Cheyenne Woods through the years

At 24, Woods scraped, scrapped and clawed her way onto the biggest stage in the women’s game. After toiling overseas learning her craft on the Ladies European Tour last year, proving herself there by winning the Australian Ladies Masters early this year, she came back home to grind away on the Symetra Tour, a very unglamorous and stark developmental road to the LPGA ranks.

Ultimately, Woods won her tour card by slugging her way through Q-School this week, making it in her third try after failing in 2012 and ’13. She earned her card on a hard path riddled with all the challenges every young player must face.

“The work I’ve done has paid off,” Woods said afterward. “It wasn’t given to me. Nothing was handed to me. It was me, at home, working every day, all the hours I’ve put in on the golf course. It wasn’t a connection, or somebody I knew getting me in. It was me, playing 90 holes this week and playing well. It felt so good to have earned that, and to become an LPGA member on my own.”

Woods started Sunday tied for 32nd, knowing she needed a good final round to crack the top 20 and claim full LPGA membership. She delivered, posting a 2-under-par 70 to climb into a tie for 11th at day’s end. Her 70 that was better than it looked on paper with LPGA International’s Hills Course playing tough. Only two players posted better scores.

Over at the Hero World Challenge, Cheyenne’s famous uncle knew the hard work his niece invested in Sunday’s achievement.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Tiger said. “She worked her tail off to get there, traveling all over the world, playing where she could. She earned that card.”

Finishing early Sunday, Cheyenne had to sweat out a wait in the clubhouse, refreshing the scoring on her cell phone while the rest of the field finished. She said Tiger called to congratulate her when her tour card was secured.

Ultimately, Cheyenne prevailed in a week that was a microcosm of her entire year, fighting through ups and downs. She opened Q-School brilliantly with a 68, then stumbled to a dumbfounding 79 in the second round, leaving her in a hole. She went from a tie for tie for fifth to a tie for 80th.

“This year has been a roller coaster,” Cheyenne said. “The very first tournament I played, I missed the cut, a European Tour event, and then I won the next one. Between my win and Q-School, I didn’t play well. So, it was tough. But this was my overall goal. This week is what I always had in the back of my mind. It’s what I continued to work for and work towards.

“At the end of the day, I’m extremely happy with 2014. It’s probably one of the best days of my life.”

That 79 in the second round could have derailed a lesser player.

“I think I’m just really proud of my fight and my resilience and my ability not to give up, continuing to believe in myself,” Woods said. “That was the biggest thing, having belief it would happen, and fighting through that rough day and being able to come out tied for 11th.”

If you’ve followed Woods since she turned pro, you’ve seen the humble gratefulness for opportunities she knows her name created. She gets it. She also gets that fellow players will ultimately respect only the name she makes for herself. She earned another big dose of it this week.

Getty Images

Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm