DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Cheyenne Woods’ “very rough day” didn’t diminish that mega-watt smile. Woods stood outside a heavily-trafficked scoring area at LPGA International and pleasantly – and quite patiently – answered questions about an unfortunate opening 5-over 77 at LPGA Q-School.
There’s nothing glamorous about this event. Spectators are limited to parents and the odd diehard retiree. There are no bleachers or scoreboards. The 240 players competing on two courses in the backyard of LPGA headquarters rode in carts. Many carried large coolers, as if off to a barbecue. Yet for a player such as Woods, it’s the most important week of her young career.
“Maybe I felt a little pressure,” Woods, 22, conceded. “It’s Q-School. There’s a lot riding on this.”
Woods flew in two weeks early to play in a couple of SunCoast Ladies Series events on the same tracks as Q-School. She finished second in a four-round event at the Legends Course, and then won her first professional event, shooting 67-68-69 on the Champions Course. It was her first victory since the 2011 ACC Championship as a junior at Wake Forest.
“You have to learn how to win,” said Woods, who received words of congratulations from her uncle, Tiger Woods. Cheyenne Woods won $3,000 for her efforts. Uncle Tiger recently crossed the $100 million mark in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
In seven competitive rounds at LPGA International leading into Tuesday, Woods had a 69.1 scoring average. Tuesday’s 77 over the Champions Course left her stunned.
“I just couldn’t get in a rhythm today,” said Woods, who bogeyed her first hole.
The good news for Woods is that she already has experienced pressurized events as a blossoming pro, competing in the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open this summer. She missed the cut in both, but discovered she’s not far from finding success.
Woods will make her Symetra Tour debut next week in Charlotte, N.C., on a sponsor exemption. In October, she will play in South Korea for the first time at the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship, one of the most well-attended events on tour. No doubt Korean fans will be clamoring to see the girl with the Tiger-like smile.
If Woods plays as she is capable this week, she will then have two stages left of Q-School to get her card. The top 60 and ties advance to the second stage, to be held in Venice, Fla. The final will be at LPGA International.
No matter the accomplishments coming into Daytona, there is no bigger name at Q-School than Woods. No bigger name in all of golf.