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March 17, 2015

Cheyenne Woods


KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the 2015 JTBC Founders Cup.  Always glad to be back here in Phoenix, and I know the person to my left is very happy to be back here in Phoenix, as well.  Cheyenne, how good is it to be home?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  It feels so good. You don't get many chances throughout the season to really be home, and when I can be home and compete at the same time, it feels so good.  I feel really comfortable here in Phoenix.  This is home for me, get to sleep in my own bed, have my family come out.  So I've been looking forward to this event for a long time.
KELLY THESIER:  It was just a year ago you were sitting up here as a sponsor invite and you come back a year later as a rookie on the LPGA Tour.  How different does it feel to be back here with that title of being an LPGA Tour member, and how much has changed really in your life in this past year?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I would say the biggest difference is I just feel more comfortable.  I feel a little bit less pressure because I am out here for the whole season.  I don't feel like I have this one chance, this one time to play an LPGA tournament.  I do have my card, so I'll be out here for a whole year and years to come.  It's exciting for me to finally have achieved that, and I think the thing that's changed the most in the past year has just been‑‑ I feel like nothing has really changed actually.
For me I'm out here playing golf professionally, and I'm excited to be able to play, and everything else is the same.  I just got a new job and I'm playing LPGA now.
KELLY THESIER:  Looking at three events so far in your rookie season, haven't missed a cut yet, so that's a pretty decent start.  Everyone talks about a rookie year and how it takes that time for adjustment.  Everyone kind of goes through that really early rookie adjustment.  How do you feel so far on how you've done, and have you experienced that rookie sense of just getting used to what life is like out here?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, it is different.  I've played LPGA events before earning my card, but I think now that I'm here as a member, it's still a little overwhelming as a rookie.  There's a lot of emails, there's a lot of meetings here or there and a lot of rules you're getting used to, so it is a bit of an adjustment, but once you're on the course, for me I try not to think about any of that and just go out and play.  I feel like I've played decent, not great so far this year.  It's great that I have been able to make the cuts that I've played so far this year.
Other than that, I feel like it's just okay.  I can do better, so I'll look to do better this week.
KELLY THESIER:  Everyone has a different rookie experience, a different path that they follow.  For you it's been a little bit of a whirlwind in terms of you were at a New York City media tour last week.  That's not always typical for rookies.  You've been traveling all over the place, went to Australia for a few weeks.  How has that been for you in terms of the media attention which probably is more on you than most rookies?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, it is.  I kind of came into it with a brighter spotlight on me than most might have, but that's something I feel like I don't know golf without that, so for me that's normal.  For me that's just what comes with golf.
It's just a normal life for me.  It's an everyday thing.  So I kind of embrace it, and I think it would be weird without it.  It's just a part of my day.
KELLY THESIER:  Anything fun that came out of that New York tour?  It looked like you went everywhere and got to meet a whole lot of different people.
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I feel like I was in that movie "The Devil Wears Prada" where they're all like in the fashion business in all the offices and stuff.  It was fun to get away from golf and like dress up a little bit, talk about beauty and hair and stuff.  I really enjoyed it.
I learned a lot.  I had never really seen New York before, so that was a fun experience for me.  I had a fashion photo shoot, which was pretty cool, so it was new.  It was different.  It was stuff we don't usually do when we're out here competing week to week, so I really enjoyed it.

Q.  Could you summarize your play, evaluate your play, what's worked well this year through the first events?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, I would say the first few events so far my game has been pretty consistent.  I've hit the ball really well, and when I don't play well, that's what kind of messes me up is my ball‑striking because that's something that I usually depend on.  That's my go‑to.  So for me it's the ball‑striking that's always my strength.  I'm always working around the greens and trying to improve wedges, so that's something my coach and I, Mike LeBeau, who works out here in Phoenix with me, we've always worked to improve, so like I said, just ball‑striking has always been my strength over the years.

Q.  Cheyenne, I'm going to ask you about a story I actually heard from one of our staff members about a special letter that you have hanging in your room here in Phoenix.  Can you tell me a little bit about that letter and the story behind it and why it's so special to you?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, so I was maybe nine or ten years old, and I was in Cypress, California, my grandfather Earl Woods was making me breakfast and we were just talking, and he was telling me stories about when he used to work with IMG, and he used to be a recruiter, and kind of look at juniors who were coming up and write recruiting reports for IMG, and he was told me that it was like 1994, 1993 or something, I was like four years old, and he had written one about me.
So he wrote this official recruiting report about me, a three‑ or four‑year old girl from Phoenix, Arizona, and he sent it in with all of his other regular reports, and I think they kind of laughed about it, and I asked him what he had written, and he wouldn't tell me.  He's like, you'll find out one day when they come to recruit you and you'll be going to the LPGA and you'll be able to read it.
So when I was at Wake my senior year, IMG had come and they brought the letter, and it was handwritten by my grandfather, his handwriting, everything, so I got to read it.  So we copied it, we framed it, and so I have it and I always think about that because that's the one thing that's really pushed me over the years.  My grandfather passed away when I was, I think, 14, but I know how much he believed in me, so that belief in me really has pushed me throughout the years to really just get through anything.
KELLY THESIER:  That's got to be pretty special now knowing that you are an LPGA Tour member, to see that letter and know that he knew that at three or four years old.  That's pretty special.
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, I love being able to read that and have that now.

Q.  As you've matriculated through the mini‑Tours and now here and are looking ahead at finally making it big time out here on the Tour, what's that gap look like to you between where you are now and where you ultimately want to be here on the Tour, and how are you going to bridge it?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, that's something that I'm learning.  It's one thing to be on the LPGA, but it's another thing to be a champion and to be one of the top ranked in the world.  As I'm out here, I'm playing my game, and I'm kind of seeing what I'm lacking as compared to the girls who are winning week to week, and that's something that I definitely want to improve on because I don't want to be middle of the pack every week.  I don't want to be just your average person out there.  I want to be great.  That's something that I'm striving for and that's something that I'm always looking for, looking for how to get better and always looking at that next thing that I can make my game and take my game to the next level.

Q.  Do you have a sense of the time that it's going to take you to do that?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I feel like everyone is different.  You can't really give a time limit.  Some people peak at different ages or just different times of their career, so I feel like it'll come when it's supposed to come, but I'm just going to continue to work towards it regardless.

Q.  But when you get to your level you almost have that feeling that it's just right around the corner?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, because it's almost like you have a taste of it and it's right there in reaching distance.  For me I guess that's even more motivation because you're that much closer to it.

Q.  Cheyenne, can you reflect on coming home, and what still impacts you from your days at Xavier with Sister Lynn and what do you carry from that experience to your game today?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I would say just being home and knowing how I've grown up and all the support that I've had.  It's humbling to be back here and to see the LPGA Girls Golf Club I grew up playing when I was eight, nine years old and now these girls are out watching me.  With Sister Lynn and Xavier, just a great foundation and base that I have here in Phoenix.  Same way from my high school or junior golf programs, I consider that all family and just a part of what created who I am today and how I got here.

Q.  Golf is not just about hitting golf balls all the time, it's about fitness, and the name Woods is all about fitness, and I can see that you're incredibly fit.  What level have you taken your fitness level to at this point in your career?  I know the young lady you're working with is amazing, but can you expound on how you've dealt with your fitness?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, I've always enjoyed working out and being active.  I was such a tomboy growing up and played so many different sports.  I had two older brothers I was always trying to keep up with, so I've always enjoyed the challenge of a sport or a workout.  For me I work out with Karen Mullarkey here in Scottsdale, and she's been great.  Then I also do a conditioning class in central Phoenix a few times a week, and I go hiking all the time.  So for me it's just always mixing it up, trying something that's new or fun, and I think when you're healthy and you're active you just feel good about yourself, and I think that carries over to the golf course.  If you're feeling good about yourself, you're going to play a little bit better.
KELLY THESIER:  This week for the LPGA is all about the past, the present and the future, and we focus a lot on the LPGA USGA girls' golf program, and I know growing the game is a big thing for you, as well.  What does it mean to be a part of this event, and what does it mean for you to help grow the game?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  It's exciting.  I think it's a privilege to be in that role, to have this platform, to be an example for girls, and I always try to encourage girls to‑‑ it's not only about golf.  Golf teaches you a lot of lessons and it's a great way to learn about life, it's a great way to earn opportunities through life and school and everything.  For me, I mean, it's just great to be able to be in that role and to have gone through the LPGA Girls Golf Club, I feel like it's good to show them what's possible and that anything is possible, and for them to just have fun with the game and continue to live healthy lifestyles, and one day they'll be able to do whatever they dream of doing.

Q.  The letter you kept, what do you remember about it, Earl's letter?  What lines or things really stand out?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  He spoke about how I swung the club, the look in my eyes when I had the club in my hand, and things that he thought I would do once I turned professional and once I was on LPGA, the effect I would have on the game and that sort of stuff.
I don't remember it word by word, but the gist of it was the impact and pretty much what he thought I would do once I was on LPGA and what he thought I was capable of doing.

Q.  Can you just refresh our memory on the impact he had on you, how he got you started and what you learned from him?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, I picked up my very first golf club in my grandfather's garage when I was like two or three, and it was one of Tiger's old cut down clubs, and I guess Tiger was there, too, and I kind of picked it up and started swinging, and then my grandpa got me my first set of clubs when I was about five.  Neither of my parents ever played golf.  They didn't know anything about golf.  We'd watch Tiger here or there but they had never been to a driving range or anything.  My grandfather really told us what to do, what programs to be a part of, how to go about having fun with the game while still improving, so my mom would chauffeur me around to lessons.  I started with lessons and then we'd go see my grandpa during the summer and he might come and watch me play, but really he was there for guidance.  I was only on the golf course with him maybe three times ever.  Most of it was just a lot of talking about the game, him telling me stories about Tiger's junior career, and then, like I said, guidance, kind of helping us with where to go, because it's hard.  Golf is hard.  It's expensive, and you want to give your kids the best opportunities, so he helped us with how to do that.

Q.  Your older brothers didn't play golf, either, did they?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  No, no, I tried to give them lessons when I was 10 and they were like 21.  I was teaching them, and I'm still working on it.

Q.  Is that ever different, when you said your parents don't play, your brothers didn't play, to be the one in your family to be that golfer?  Like everybody just assumes you must have had golf in your blood because of your famous uncle, but is it a little different growing up as the only golfer in the household?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I think so.  A lot of people assume we have these extravagant golf trips like family golf trips, and I'm like, no, I'm the only one that plays golf in my family.  So it would be a lot of just support.  They didn't really know what I was doing but they knew I was playing golf and I was pretty good at it, so they would follow me online or they'd come out to my local tournaments and just watch.  Anything I did was amazing to them, and so it was just a lot of support.  I never felt pressure from them, they always were really encouraging, and they're my biggest cheerleaders.  They'll be out here this week.  My mom made tee shirts, so you'll probably see them.  I would just say they've just been very supportive.

Q.  What do the shirts say?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  They say something like "We're with Woods."  I don't know, my mom came up with it.  She's really excited.

Q.  Can you just talk a little bit about having the influence of your older brothers who always played sports and just sports being there for you when you were young, just some of the things with childhood obesity and children not being active and how important it is to be active when you're young and try different sports?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yeah, I definitely think it's very important.  I have a younger cousin who, he's like eight years younger than me, so I saw the effects of him and them eliminating like physical education in elementary school, and I just feel like that's the dumbest thing you can ever do because kids need exercise.  That's like natural for them.  There's so much energy.
For me I was always involved in after‑school programs.  I danced competitively, I did track and field, I did basketball, volleyball, everything up until high school, and I just feel like it makes you a well‑rounded person.  You learn a lot about life, you learn a lot about discipline, self‑discipline and just how to be healthy, so I think it's important for children to learn that at a young age so then they can carry that into their adult life and continue to be healthy their whole life.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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