Michael Vlismas –
SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal (17 April 2013) – When your surname is Woods, it tends to open a few doors in golf. So when Cheyenne Woods wanted to know a bit more about South Africa ahead of her debut in this week’s South African Women’s Open, she asked a friend. Gary Player. And she did so at last week’s Masters.
“I spoke to Mr Player and he told me a lot about the country. He told me the beaches here are beautiful. And he spoke very highly of Southbroom golf course,” said Woods, the niece of world number one Tiger Woods.
“It’s beautiful. It’s very green and I love it. I’m from Arizona in the desert, so I’m loving all the greenery here. I’ve also heard about the great views on this golf course, which I’m looking forward to.”
Woods is one of the star attractions in a strong field assembled for South Africa’s oldest women’s professional tournament, which tees off at Southbroom Golf Club on Friday and will be played over 54 holes.
The tournament features players from 27 countries and is co-sanctioned by the WPGA and the Ladies European Tour (LET). Within a year of its return to the international schedule last year, the event has grown to feature a field with two former LET Order of Merit champions in South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and France’s Gwladys Nocera, and multiple winners such as Wales’ Becky Brewerton and England’s Trish Johnson. They’ll also be competing for an increased purse of €290 000 this year.
But for Woods, the greatest value will be the experience she’s gaining playing in varied conditions such as those in South Africa. Woods is currently in her debut season on the LET.
“I went to the LPGA Tour School and didn’t make it through. So I thought about my other options, and one was joining the Ladies European Tour. And I’m really glad I did. It’s a great way to ease my way into professional golf and get experience of playing overseas and in different conditions. It’s been a good experience learning the different courses and adjusting to the weather and jet lag and so on. I haven’t really travelled a lot in my life, so that’s been fun as well.”
As the leading South African in the field, Pace is hoping for a good week in a part of the country where she lived from the age of 19-21.
“I’ve been training hard to make it a special week. But just to be in South Africa and play in front of your home crowd is very special. We’ve got some bigger names here this year, so I’ll have to have my A game with me, which I think I have.”
The field also includes South Africa’s top amateur and world number three, Nobuhle Dlamini, who is coming off her staggering 12-stroke victory in the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship earlier this week.