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.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.