Sports

CHEYENNE'S GOT GAME

Tiger Woods' niece stepped out of her superstar uncle's shadow yesterday by winning the biggest tournament of her career at the Australian Ladies Masters.

Cheyenne Woods, who is the daughter of Tiger's half-brother Earl Dennison Woods, held off a strong challenge by Australian amateur Minjee Lee (278) to card a final-round four-under-par 69 and complete a 16-under 276 total for victory.

South Africa's Stacy Lee Bregman and Sweden's Camilla Lennarth tied for third at 12 under.

Woods turned professional in 2012 after an All-America career at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

While Woods, 23, won a minor event early in her pro career in the United States, her latest victory on the Ladies European Tour at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast was easily her most significant so far.

The American, whose grandfather Earl Woods - Tiger's father - was her first coach, was rock-solid throughout her final round, firing five birdies and just one bogey, and she choked back tears during her victory speech.

"This is a huge accomplishment for me," said the world No. 363, adding that she hopes her breakthrough will move the conversation beyond merely her surname.

"I've been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods' niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting," she said.

"It's nice now to say to people that I can play and I'm not just a name. Growing up with the last name of Woods, there are a lot of expectations, pressure and spotlight on you, but I always knew that I was able to win.

"I always knew I'd be able to compete with these ladies, so now it's kind of a weight off my shoulders because now everybody knows, not just me."

The win earned her a two-year exemption into Ladies European Tour events.

"The Ladies European Tour has been great to be able to play this last year," she said.

"I've been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members, so I've learnt so much from all of these girls. To be able to come out here and actually compete with them and come out on top was huge for me.

"It's not necessarily a shock, but I missed the cut last week by two shots in New Zealand - 77, 71 - so I didn't play well last week. But I came into this week with a new mindset; I worked on a few things and everything just clicked.

"It worked out really well. After the first round I knew I could win, so from then on that was the goal."

A victory in next week's US LPGA-sanctioned Australian Open would also earn her exemption into that tour. - AFP.

It just feels really great knowing my game is there, and I can play four solid rounds.

- Cheyenne Woods (above) GOLF