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Golf is all in the family for niece Cheyenne Woods

Friday - 5/4/2012, 8:31pm  ET

By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - There's plenty more to Cheyenne Woods' game than just her famous last name.

With uncle Tiger Woods playing this week across the state in Charlotte, his niece is looking to wrap up her record-setting Wake Forest career with a strong showing in NCAA tournament play.

She will play in the regionals next week, and hopes to qualify for the championship finals later in May before turning pro with the hope of building a career on the LPGA Tour.

"It is a little bit of pressure knowing it is my last collegiate event," Woods said Friday. "But I want to look at it as something to take advantage of, and end on a high note, and enjoy every moment with my team and enjoy just being on the college team and this time of my life."

College golf has been very good to Woods, who will graduate as perhaps the best female player in school history.

The 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference champion and two-time All-America selection enters her final regional with a chance to break both the school's career scoring record and her own 2-year-old single-season mark.

Her career scoring average of 74.31 is 0.16 better than that of Natalie Sheary, and her average of 73.62 is tied for second in the ACC and puts her within striking distance of the 73.47 she averaged as a sophomore.

She's a captain of a Wake Forest team that has never missed the NCAA regionals since the organization adopted that format in 1993. The Demon Deacons hold the No. 14 seed in the 24-team regional that begins May 10 at Penn State's Blue Course. The top eight teams and top two individual players not on those teams advance to the NCAA championship finals in Franklin, Tenn.

"We're definitely going in with the mindset that we're going to get that top eight," Woods said.

After that, she hopes to eventually play her way onto the LPGA Tour. Once her college career ends, she'll declare her professional status and begin looking for sponsors and sponsor exemptions into tournaments.

"She could be the next Nancy Lopez," Wake Forest coach Dianne Dailey said, adding that she thinks Woods "will be a sponsor's dream."

Woods, a Phoenix native, said she could join the Arizona-based Cactus Tour until she goes to Q-school at the end of the summer to try to earn her tour card and become the latest member of her family to play at the highest level of pro golf.

Her father, Earl Jr., is Tiger's half-brother, and she says Earl Sr., her paternal grandfather, introduced her to the game and "got me started when I was young."

Cheyenne says the first club she swung as a girl was in her grandfather's garage, and he guided her through her junior career. Earl Sr. died in 2006 at 74.

"I only got a chance to go out on the golf course with him a couple of times," she said. "But I think a few putting tips he's given me, I always keep those in mind."

She developed a style she describes as "aggressively, steady, calm" by watching pro golf as a girl. Instead of patterning her game after any one particular player, she chose attributes from a variety of players into "kind of a mix of a lot of stuff."

That includes Tiger, though their facial features look a lot more alike than their swings do. Cheyenne says her driver more closely resembles that of smooth-swinging Ernie Els than that of her heavy-hitting uncle.

She says she's planning to make the 90-mile trip to Quail Hollow in Charlotte this weekend for the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship _ though her uncle won't be on the course there. His second-round 73 left him at even-par 144, and he missed the cut for the eighth time in his career. That's after his worst performance as a pro came last month at the Masters.

Cheyenne says Tiger has been nothing but supportive of her through the years.

"He's rooting me on, excited for my professional career, also," Cheyenne said.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)