By Jerry Stewart, Monterey Herald Correspondent
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif (Sept 2, 2006) -- Back when she was in first grade, Cheyenne Woods had no problem telling other people about her uncle Tiger.
"I remember when he first came out on tour (in 1996), I'd brag to my teachers and classmates," Woods said. "That's my uncle!"
Today Tiger Woods is recognized as one of the most famous athletes in the world and is golf's greatest player. Cheyenne, meanwhile, is done bragging.
Instead, the 16-year-old Phoenix resident, who is competing in this week's Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, is trying to carve her own niche into the Woods' golf legacy.
Aiming to be the next Woods' family member to make a big splash on the golf scene, Cheyenne, the daughter of Tiger's half-brother Earl Jr., last year won the American Junior Golf Association's Nike Golf Junior, the Bill Dickey Invitational and the Big I Junior Classic, an event that Tiger won twice as a junior. As for gaining entry into this week's First Tee Open, one would think just her name would mean an invitation. Woods, however, played her way in by firing a medalist-earning 69 during an open qualifying round held in Oklahoma.
"Being Tiger's niece, the advantage is that my name is out there. Then again, my name is also a burden. People expect big things," Woods said.
Following Friday's opening round, one person who was more than impressed with the younger Woods was her pro partner, former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.
"I enjoyed watching her all day. She's got the most beautiful rhythm in her swing that I've ever seen and a terrific attitude," Crenshaw said. "We got a kick walking down the fairway on No. 17. At one point I turned to her and said, 'Hey, your uncle is doing pretty well right now, isn't he?' We had a lot of fun. She's wonderful."
Like Tiger, Woods' late father Earl also had a lot of influence on Cheyenne's game. In 1998, Earl presented her with her first set of clubs. At the time, she would often go out and play with her mother, Susan.
"I still remember a lot of things Grandpa Earl would say," said Woods, who has already stated that she will go to college before she turns pro. "He had a lot of catch-phrases as to how to approach things on the golf course."
Today, Woods will attempt to conquer the course -- Pebble Beach Golf Links -- that her uncle basically devoured en route to winning the 2000 U.S. Open. Along with Del Monte Golf Course, which she played on Friday, Pebble Beach Golf Links will also be a venue that she has never played, unless you count playing a course on an Xbox video console. Prior to this week, the closest Cheyenne Woods has come to playing Pebble Beach Golf Links is during rounds on her Xbox. Did she receive any advice from her uncle as to how to beat one of the world's greatest golf courses?
"No, he didn't call me and I didn't call him. One of the last things that I heard from him was 'Kick butt and have fun,'" Woods said. "Maybe I'll get to call him."
Considering her progress, it'll only be a matter of time.