Friday 17 November 2017

Woods aims to live up to her name

Earl Woods. Photo: Getty Images
Earl Woods. Photo: Getty Images

Karl MacGinty

SHE looks like Tiger -- they have the same eyes, high cheekbones and toothy grin. His dad, Earl Woods, also put a golf club in her hand as a toddler and began teaching her to be confident and play tough.

Cheyenne Woods (21) may or may not be a golfing Tigress but as she follows her world-famous uncle onto the professional fairways, she's determined to be one thing above all else ... herself.

As ever, Tiger will be the centre of attention at the Greenbrier Classic this weekend as he bids for his fourth PGA Tour victory of 2012 and, significantly, his first back-to-back wins since the crash of 2009.

Professional

Yet the eyes of the golfing world also will be drawn to the US Women's Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin where another Woods tees it up for only the second time as a cub professional.

But for the ponytail and the small diamond stud in her nose, Cheyenne and her uncle almost could be mistaken for twins ... in fact, she's the daughter of Earl Dennison Woods Jr, Tiger's older half-brother.

Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn with, arguably, the world's greatest golfer, contributing to the pressure which caused her to miss the cut on her pro debut in last month's LPGA Championship, another Major.

Judging by her relaxed, friendly demeanour in Wisconsin, however, Cheyenne seems to have no trouble taking all the Tiger questions and comparisons in her stride.

It's too early to say how good she'll be but, as noted US golf writer Gary D'Amato pointed out in a splendid piece in the 'Milwaukee Journal Sentinel', Cheyenne "appears to be her own person, which is going to be, for her, more than half the battle.

"She comes across as poised and personable," D'Amato wrote, adding this glorious line: "She is eminently approachable and exudes a warm charm, qualities her famous uncle didn't seem to pick up in the gene pool."

Cheyenne has relied on Tiger for advice, as she outlines: "He has watched me for the past almost 10 years now. I have my own coach but Tiger has overlooked my swing a little bit, so he knows my game better than anyone else, I would say."

Yet this Wake Forest University graduate, who has more than 30 amateur tournament victories on her CV, insists: "I have always said I'm going on my own path. I have my own progression that I've taken.

"Tiger is a very elite athlete," she adds. "Not everyone can be Tiger Woods. So I just do what I can do to be the best that I can."

Speaking about Earl Woods, without doubt the most influential person in Tiger's career, Cheyenne adds: "I didn't see him as Tiger's dad. He was just my grandpa and was very supportive of me.

"He believed in me. He supported me throughout my entire career in junior golf and got me off to a great start in the sport," she explains.

While she first hit golf balls as a toddler, Cheyenne wanted to be a professional from age five, saying: "Watching Tiger play as I grew up, I knew I wanted to be out on Tour some day."

It'd be unfair to view US Open Sectional Qualifier Woods as a rival for the title defended by tough Korean So Yeon Ryu and the giants of women's golf this weekend.

However, this week's championship at Blackwolf Run is the perfect arena in which to gauge her game and, indeed, that of Royal Portrush starlet Stephanie Meadow (20). She earned her place in the tournament with last Saturday's sensational victory at the British Ladies Amateur Open.

Recent Curtis Cup star Meadow tees off this evening in the company of former British amateur champion Carlota Ciganda and American Gigi Still. Galway-born Alison Walshe plays, as do most of Europe's victorious Solheim Cup team at Killeen Castle last September.

Invincibility

Tiger's golf game, form and confidence have grown so much in recent months he's gradually re-establishing the aura of invincibility which used to surround him on the US Tour.

Though setbacks at this year's Masters and US Open suggest victory at the Majors is still a step or two away, Woods is still a worthy favourite on his first visit to The Greenbrier or, indeed, West Virginia, despite the presence of Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and recent Olympic champion Webb Simpson in a galactic field.

Meanwhile, Paul McGinley has withdrawn from this week's French Open, so he now only has one more chance to win a place in the upcoming British Open at Lytham, where he was tied for the lead after 36 holes in 1996.

The Dubliner has been advised to rest by his medics after his troublesome left knee swelled up after a recent heavy playing schedule came to a climax at the Irish Open in Portrush last weekend. McGinley must finish in the top five at next week's Scottish Open to make it back to Lytham.

Graeme McDowell leads a strong Irish contingent to Paris and gruelling test on a France National course softened by recent torrential rain. With length likely to be at a premium, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts seems a good choice here.

Open de France

Live, Sky Sports 1, 9.30am/2.30pm

Greenbrier Classic

Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0pm

US Women's Open

Live, Sky Sports 3, 11.0pm

Irish Independent

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