For Cheyenne Woods, her family name could have been a millstone round her neck but she only dwells on the positives as she swings away that ‘Uncle Tiger’ question nonchalantly.
“It’s more of a plus. To have that connection with Tiger, to see him from close quarters being so successful has pushed me even more. Of course, there is the pressure but I can only handle what’s in front of me, my next shot,” she says.
In her LPGA rookie year, the 25-year-old who turned pro in 2012 thinks she is at a happy place regarding her career. “I’ve definitely improved this season. I have only earned a conditional card for next year so I’m going right back to Q School.”
Winning the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour last year was a stepping stone to paving a road of her own, and now she hopes to make more points at the $400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open scheduled at DLF Golf & Country Club’s new Gary Player Course from Friday.
“Sometimes, it gets to a point where you do want to be your own person,” she tells TOI. “I ‘m proud of being part of the Woods family but having my own identity as a golfer would be great and I believe the more I play and achieve people will be able to differentiate between me and Tiger.”
“I’m used to the media.” She adds. “I love (that) people come out to watch me play whether it’s for Tiger or me I’m glad the women’s game is getting more exposure for whatever reason.”
Tiger’s old club may have got her started in the family garage but it was her grandfather Earl who was the biggest influence on her career. Earl Woods Jr, Tiger’s half-brother, and her mother Susan were non-golfers and it was Earl Sr who saw the spark in her eyes, and had once written in a scouting report that his granddaughter was headed for big times… when she was three!
“Tiger’s dad gave me my first set of golf clubs when I was five. My grandpa believed in me, he passed away when I was 14 but even then, he has been the biggest influence on my game, the conversations we had linger on. I definitely think about him when I’m on the course and knowing that he believed what I could achieve, that continues to motivate me.”
Cheyenne, whose best friend Rimpi is an Indian, admits she has dual sides to her personality – “I like my alone time”. But she is game for promoting the women’s game.
“I would be honoured if somebody said that I’m a role model for African- American girls like Serena Williams, really I would like to show them anything is possible, whether being a sportsperson or doctor.”
Growing up with two older brothers in Phoenix, Arizona, she would always find herself running around in the dirt, camping, hiking, playing outdoor sports. “Sweaty times.
” Basketball, volleyball, dancing made her an all-rounder but it was inevitable she would turn her eyes to the golf course. “At the end of the day , that was the game I loved.”
Having been labelled as one of the most beautiful women in golf, maybe modelling would have been an alternate career. “It’s special being a woman, you have so many roles to play. I like to be presentable on course, I like wearing the cute Nike clothes they give me. If you feel good, you play good.”
But Kate Moss is not on top of her list, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa are. “When I retire, I would like to see myself as a champion on the LPGA tour hopefully inspiring people to play the game and be some kind of a transcending image of a woman athlete.” A woman of substance? “Yeah, that’s it.” Let’s knock on Woods.\