It Runs In The Family

CWCheyenne Woods may be the niece of golf legend Tiger Woods, but she is carving out her own niche in the world of golf. She recently won?the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) individual championship by seven shots. It was the biggest win of her amateur golf career. She even made Tiger proud. In fact, Tiger used Twitter to congratulate Cheyenne, tweeting “My niece, Cheyenne, just won the ACC golf title by 7 shots! That’s awesome, I’m so proud of her.”

“I felt very accomplished (after winning the tournament),” says Woods. “I was very confident going in. I knew I was capable of winning. I felt I could do anything I put my mind to.”?Following her personal record-breaking ACC win, Woods followed with a fifth-place showing in the NCAA Central Regional tournament.

Woods is a daughter of Earl Dennison Woods Jr., golfer Tiger Woods’s older half-brother. Her grandfather, Earl Woods Sr., was her first coach. She has won more than 30 amateur tournaments. As most recall, Earl Woods coached Tiger to his current stardom. So it is no wonder Cheyenne is fast following in Tiger?s footsteps.

Imagine the lucrative?professional career that may be ahead for Cheyenne. Tiger estimated endorsements for 2010 are worth $22 million less than last year, according to Sports Illustrated. This did not include his golf earnings. Although women earn a lot less than men in golf (2010?s top female player, Yani Tseng, earned about $607,978.00, according to the Ladies Professional Golf Association), Cheyenne Woods has a major edge–name recognition.

The junior at Wake Forest University is no stranger to the course. She picked up her first club as a toddler, and there was no stopping her from there on. “I was about 2 years old when I picked up my first club,” remembers Woods. “I started playing around the age of 5 or 6, after my grandfather bought me my first set. I started playing tournaments around the age of 8.” And Tiger, of course, was a strong figure in her life as a golfer. “My favorite golfer is, of course, Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods in the best player in the world,” she says. “Tiger is probably the best player I have ever played with. He has always been that motivation for me.”??

Although Woods says she wants to turn pro, she is not rushing the issue. She wants to build on her amateur wins first. She decided not to turn pro this summer, and is shooting to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in July as an amateur. She also wants to tee off in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in late June and the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rhode Island Country Club in August.

“My main?goal is to go professional,” explains Woods. “But I?m also very interested in getting involved in minority golf. I grew up playing in minority leagues and tournaments and I want to be a role model for other young girls like me.”

While golf is her passion, she makes time for other activities such as hiking and running. “If I am not playing golf, I am doing some other outdoor sport,” says Woods, who says she loves golf for various reasons. And she recommends the sport as a means to help young women, especially, deal with life challenges.?”Golf is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” she points out. “There are so many aspects of golf – the physical, the mental aspects, the stress. But I love it. I love the challenges. With golf, you have to be prepared (for any possibility),” she adds.