PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Cheyenne Woods doesn’t need to call her famous uncle for advice as she prepares to make her professional debut this week.
She knows what Tiger would tell her before teeing it up on a sponsor’s invite at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
“[Tiger] is always telling me just to kick butt,” Cheyenne said Tuesday at Locust Hill Country Club. “Tiger is always dominating, so that is one word of advice he would give me.”
Cheyenne, 21, graduated two weeks ago from Wake Forest, where she won the Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2011. Tiger let the world know how he felt about that in a tweet.
“My niece, Cheyenne, just won the ACC golf title by seven shots!” Tiger wrote back then. “That’s awesome. I’m so proud of her.”
Cheyenne was feeling similarly toward her uncle after Tiger’s victory at the Memorial in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
“Of course, I was tuned in,” she said. “That was really exciting to see him out there in Tiger’s fashion, of dominating and coming back last minute. It was fun to watch.”
The family resemblance is strong in Cheyenne’s face. She is the daughter of Earl Woods Jr, the oldest son to Earl Woods Sr., Tiger’s late father.
Earl Woods Jr. was among three children born in Earl Sr.’s first marriage.
Cheyenne’s eyes and smile bear striking resemblance to Tiger’s. LPGA pro Suzann Pettersen joked that she hopes the similarities don’t go deeper.
“If she has the genes of the rest of the family, I think we should be a bit worried,” Pettersen said.
Cheyenne and Tiger do share a certain history to their games. Cheyenne first picked up a golf club when she was 2 in Earl Woods Sr.’s garage, the same garage where Tiger got his start.
“My grandfather, he didn’t push me into the game,” Cheyenne said. “I kind of picked it up on my own and fell in love with it. He was always there to kind of guide me through my junior career and kind of helped my family out on how best to go through junior golf and get into collegiate golf.”
Though ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote in a scathing report before the Masters that Tiger hasn’t had any contact with his siblings since Earl Sr. died six years ago, Cheyenne reports a good relationship with Tiger.
“He’s always been so supportive of me, and I’m thankful for that,” Cheyenne said.
Growing up as Tiger’s niece had its advantages and its disadvantages.
“I would say the best thing is definitely just having him as an uncle and having him there to support me,” Cheyenne said. “He is obviously amazing at golf. Having him there, and knowing I can go to him whenever I need, is nice to have.
“The most difficult thing is dealing with the pressure, but I have dealt with it a long time, and I have somehow been able to play my own game. That’s what I mainly try to think about is playing my own game, just trying to do my own thing and not worrying about what others are thinking.”
Though Cheyenne didn’t accumulate an amateur record close to her famous uncle’s – who does? – she believes she has some Tiger in her. “I think I do,” she said. “It’s not like you can control it, but if I put myself in a pressure-packed situation, I think I’m definitely able to buckle down and get through it.”
Cheyenne qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run next month. She’s hoping to gain more sponsor invites before entering LPGA Q-School later this year.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” Cheyenne said of her pro debut.
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