What Would Have Been Cheyenne Woods’ Advice to Tiger at the Wyndham?
You may have watched Tiger Woods play golf this past weekend at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship played at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. For the first time in a while Tiger had the lead going into the weekend. In the end, he finished tenth, securing his first top ten of the year. Maybe Tiger’s Sunday might have gone better if he had asked his niece, LPGA professional Cheyenne Woods, for some advice.
Why ask Ms Woods, now in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, for advice? Well, in a slightly less televised display of golfing prowess, once upon a time, Cheyenne Woods dominated Sedgefield Country Club. I would know. I was there.
It was the 2011 ACC Women’s Golf Championship which for the last six years has been played at Sedgefield. Unlike the men, we play our Championship in the peak of the spring blooming season. It is so beautiful there during that time of year it makes you feel like you are golfing in the Garden of Eden.
But Sedgefield is a tough golf course. The Donald Ross design really tests your putting and short game. All three years that I played the ACC tournament, our coaches always harped on us to keep our chips on the ground and not try anything fancy. Getting cute results in double bogeys at Sedgefield. Needless to say, it was really neat to watch the PGA men hit some of the exact same shots we hit during our college championship four years ago.
Going into that 23rd (23 was maybe a good omen for Michael Jordan’s Tar Heels?) ACC Championship four short years ago, Duke women’s golf had won far too many times to say and Wake Forest led by Cheyenne Woods and current Symetra Tour players Natalie Sheary and Michelle Shin were the defending champs. My Tar Heels had won only once — back in 1992.
Our team included our number one player Catherine O’Donnell, myself, along with freshmen Jackie Chang, Casey Grice and Katherine Perry with supporting cast Courtney Gunter, Sarah Thead, Margaret Pentrack, Jordan Allyne, and Michelle Ahn (not too mention a long list of supporters). Leading into the tournament we got a big pep talk from our coaches Jan Mann and Patricia Earley about how we were supposed to take no prisoners but be smart and use our yardage books and that sort of classic coach stuff.
I was more concerned at the time about my ever diminishing golf swing. I was sort of in this slump. You see my Freshmen year I was averaging 73.7 per round but my junior year I had slipped to 75. 3. My confidence was very up and down. To help with my mental struggles, I even carried around this tape recorder of myself saying “Try again, that’s okay, it happens” so that hopefully I would listen to it and train my brain to react positively to bad shots on the golf course. I ended up saying it all of the time in normal life. Like, I would drop a pencil on my way to class, bend down, pick it up and say “Try again, that’s okay, it happens”. It was comical to say the least.
Thus, I remember standing on the range before I was about to tee off on that beautiful chilly April morning of our opening championship round. I was trying to figure out how on earth to hit the ball. I was striking it terribly most of the warm-up. Just as I was about to go out there and wing it, I finally landed on this random swing thought. It was something like “just take a full backswing and keep your head still”. If you know anything about the mental side of golf, it’s rarely a good idea to make up new swing thoughts ten minutes before you go tee it up on your big day. But I did.
And I shot 66. And everybody on our Tar Heel Team played amazing all three days and we won the tournament. It was that simple. We beat Duke by 24 strokes with four out of our five players all finishing in the top ten.
Back to Cheyenne! What happened to her? Well, Cheyenne’s Demon Deacons didn’t have their best tournament, so I didn’t get to watch Cheyenne light it up because her team was not in the lead group. But she did light it up. Ms. Woods shot 70-70-68 to finish 5 under- first place- the only player under par for the tournament outpacing second place me by seven strokes.
It was a hard fought, talented display of golf by her. Fortunately for me I was in nirvana over my team winning. Honestly… I went streaking around the house naked that night for five dollars… and when I saw Cheyenne on Ellen Degeneres the next week talking over her victory, although Ellen forgot to mention the Team Champs, I thought that was pretty neat.
So what would Cheyenne have told Tiger about Sedgefield? Keep those chips on the ground? Make more birdies? Just do your thing Uncle Tiger? Who knows? It might have helped though. It’s too late now, Tar Heel Davis Love III won the Wyndham Championship this past weekend for us Carolina kids. Oh yeah!
I guess my advice to Tiger on how to win at Sedgefield would be to…. Make it a team competition and then be lucky enough to have the best teammates 🙂
Allie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.