By David Droschak
Cheyenne Woods was facing the exact same scenario as a year ago, tied for the lead after shooting the same scores, on the same golf course, with the same goal at stake – the ACC Women’s Individual Golf Championship.
This time around, the niece of Tiger Woods was determined not to let another title slip through her fingers.
After shooting a pair of 70s just as she had in 2010 at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, the Wake Forest junior carded a bogey-free final-round 68 to cruise to a seven-shot victory over North Carolina’s Allie White, who came into the day tied with Woods.
In the end it was all good for White, too, since she finished second and helped the Tar Heels capture their first ACC team title in 19 years.
Woods, who had just one other college title to her credit coming into the ACC Championship, was the only golfer to finish under par, firing a 5-under 208 on the difficult Donald Ross layout that also hosts the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship.
“I have a different mindset on the golf course, and mentally I’ve matured a lot with my golf game,” Woods said. “And that’s what helped me in the final round.
“I just felt really at ease and confident with the way the course was playing,” she added. “There really wasn’t a turning point. Everything just went my way.”
That’s an understatement.
Woods’ drive on the par-5 15th hole sailed into the woods, only to come out of the trees and land about one yard in bounds. And after chunking her first putt on the green, coming up some 15 feet short, she sank the tricky downhill putt to save par, and cruise to victory.
In 2010, Woods shot a final-round 78 and fell from contention to sixth place.
“Last year I think I went out there and just tried too hard to win it,” Woods said.
“I wish I had a video of this round for her so she could play it over and over in her head,” said Wake Forest coach Diane Dailey. “She just looked so confident and her distance control was outstanding. She had a plan this week and she stuck to it.”
Of course, because of her name, Woods had the largest following at Sedgefield. But she’s used to all the attention now after three years of college golf.
“She’s a golfer in her own right,” Dailey said. “She’s doing her own thing and I think she’s been very successful at doing it. She has a famous relative or famous uncle but for her that (pressure) is off her back now. People are going to look at her for who she is. Anybody who came out to watch her play could see she’s a true champion.”
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels, fielding a team of two juniors and three freshmen, including former Athens Drive star Katherine Perry, stunned highly-ranked Duke and Virginia to capture the team title by 24 shots.
Four of UNC’s players finished tied for seventh or better, including Perry’s sixth place in her first ACC.
“We came in here and said we were going to play as good as we could and see where that placed us, and I can’t believe we won the ACC Championship,” Perry said. “It’s surreal right now. It’s a dream come true.”
“Yes, we did win this with a very young team,” added North Carolina coach Jan Mann, who won the ACC title in her second season in Chapel Hill. “I expect to win some more with them. I’m excited.”