The LPGA may be enjoying a dramatic bounce in viewership (as of earlier this month, TV ratings were up 18 percent after last year’s 40 percent spike), but Tiger Woods was apparently not among those fans tuning in to watch the best in women’s golf. With his niece, Cheyenne Woods, turning pro and inking a deal with his sports agent, Mark Steinberg, perhaps the former No. 1 will have more reason to check in on how the women are doing.
"Glad you follow the LPGA," a reporter jibed at Woods on Monday when Cheyenne’s uncle conceded he had missed the drama of Sunday’s Sybase Match Play semifinal round, during which officials slapped Morgan Pressel with a penalty for slow play.
"I don’t [know what happened]. You just explained it for the first time," Woods told the media during a press conference for next month’s AT&T National Tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. "So [Pressel] didn’t win her match?"
Brought up to speed on Pressel’s loss of a hole -- and likely the match -- for breaching the LPGA’s pace-of-play regulations, Woods sympathized with the soon-to-be 24-year-old American who was seeking her first tour win since 2008, but, in essence, said it is what it is.
"It's unfortunate that it happened to her," said Woods, who has both spoken out against slow play and complained about his tour's attempts to move slowpokes along. "But that's unfortunately part of the game. It's unfortunately a little bit slower."
Woods remarked about how, back in the day (sometime in the ‘60s, he said), the tour made players continue putting without marking their balls unless they were in someone’s line. While Woods said the PGA did not have "to go to that extreme" to lean on the laggards, he did opine that "we need to speed up play and we need to get a little bit faster."
As for Tiger’s niece, Steinberg announced Monday that Cheyenne Woods would join the Excel Sports Management team. The 21-year-old just completed a record-breaking career at Wake Forest University, where she set the lowest scoring average in the school’s history. She was also a 2011 All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference champ as well as a three-time All-ACC team member.
"We are excited about the opportunity to represent Cheyenne," Steinberg said in a statement about the younger Woods, who will seek sponsor exemptions for the rest of the 2012 LPGA season and attend qualifying school later in the year. "She had an outstanding career at Wake Forest and has the chance to be a major star on the women's golf scene."
Cheyenne Woods’ star power should bring even more eyes to the LPGA Tour -- perhaps even those of Uncle Eldrick.