Cheyenne Woods content to toil in LPGA minor leagues for now

Matt Roberts

Cheyenne Woods broke through with her first win on a major professional tour last week but the 23-year-old can’t trade on her famous last name and instead must work her way up through the minor leagues to earn an LPGA Tour playing card.

Cheyenne Woods, thanks to her relationship to a certain world No. 1, has attracted attention since she began playing competitive golf as a five-year-old. Which made last week, with the worldwide spotlight shining on her after she won her first event on a major professional tour, nothing out of the ordinary for the now-23-year-old with a famous surname.

"For me, it's just what comes with it, just having the last name has always drawn a lot of attention, so for me this is normal," Woods told reporters ahead of her turn at this week’s LPGA-backed Women’s Australian Open. "The interviews or the TV cameras following me, so it's just what I've always known."

Taking all the hoopla over her Australian Ladies Masters triumph in stride, Woods noted that not much was different in her world -- especially since she still requires sponsor’s exemptions to get into LPGA Tour games and will continue working her way up to the big leagues by way of the mini-tour.

"So far, my plans haven't changed," Wood said. "I still plan on playing Symetra and just earning my way, working my way towards LPGA."

The Symetra Tour will start its season next week in Mesa and the Arizona native, who earned LET exemption last week, intends to vie for one of the 10 fully exempt LPGA Tour cards up for grabs in women’s golf minor leagues.

"This week I still plan on going back to Phoenix, Arizona, where I'm from. I have a Symetra Tour event there, which is the qualifying tour for LPGA that I'll be playing the full season of," said Woods, an All-American at Wake Forest who turned professional in 2012, the same year she won her her first professional victory in a SunCoast mini-tour event. "So I'll be there for that event and then the next week I'll be in L.A. for another Symetra Tour event."

In the meantime, Woods -- who added some 5,000 Twitter followers to the 20,000 she had before her breakthrough win Down Under, and earned a Golf Channel replay on Tuesday and Wednesday of her final two rounds at the Ladies Masters -- will take on a talent-laden field at Victoria Golf Club. Among those competing in the LPGA’s second contest of the season will be teen prodigy Lydia Ko, second-ranked Suzann Pettersen, two-time tour winner Jessica Korda, former No. 1 Stacy Lewis, and 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer.

While all eyes will be on Woods in Victoria, Tiger’s niece claimed there was no additional pressure on her to perform.

"I know there are a lot of people watching me, a lot more than normal, but it does feel completely different from last week," said Woods, who noted she learned last week she had her famous uncle’s front-running genes.

"Mentally I learned a lot [last week] ... what I’m capable of," she observed. "I have had the lead in a professional event before but I completely blew it the next day, so for me to be able to have the lead for two consecutive days and follow through and be confident and calm throughout the entire round was really big for me."

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