C. Woods motivated by 21-year-old letter from grandfather Earl

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2015, 12:55 am

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"I couldn't help think, given Earl's intuition, what a historical document I had in my possession," he said.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.”

And inspiration.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”