LPGA Tour player Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, met the media following the third round Saturday in Ann Arbor. Matt Charboneau, Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Cheyenne Woods is used to people noticing her name first.
That’s to be expected, considering her uncle happens to be the most recognizable figure in golf.
But being related to Tiger Woods doesn’t get you a free pass on the golf course. Making it as a pro is all on Cheyenne Woods, and Saturday at the Volvik Championship, she had everyone focusing on her game and not asking about family.
After making the cut on the number by shooting even-par 144 through the first two days, Woods turned in the best score during the third round by firing a 6-under 66 by making six birdies — three on each side — without a single blemish on the scorecard.
“It felt really good out there today,” Woods said. “I felt like the last few weeks my game has just kind of been coming together, and the results haven't always shown but my caddie and I have just stayed patient and today we finally saw what we've been feeling.”
Woods had the benefit of playing early and finishing before lightning moved into the area, halting play at Travis Pointe Country Club at 1:34 p.m. By then, she had moved three shots within the lead, one she was hoping wouldn’t grow too much by the time she teed it up for her final round sometime Sunday.
When play finally finished on Saturday — after a two-plus hour delay — Woods was six shots behind leader Minjee Lee while here 66 was matched only by rookie Emma Talley.
Even though a six-shot margin will be tough to overcome, Woods feels like things are coming together after making just three cuts in the first nine events this season.
“I think just a little bit of everything,” Woods said when asked which part of her game has improved. “Usually I'm a pretty decent ball striker so I've been giving myself a lot of chances for birdies, and today I just made a lot of great putts and so I think that's really been changing, the turning point.”
She spent plenty of time after the second round Friday on the practice green after needing 32 putts over 18 holes. On Saturday, she had trimmed that number to 25.
“My caddie and I were just working on trusting the lines and focusing on the 10 feet and in and I really felt the difference out there today, so it was helpful,” Woods said.
The next step for Woods is continuing Saturday’s play into the final round and beyond as she still looks for her first win on the LPGA Tour.
A winner on the Ladies European Tour in 2014, Woods earned her LPGA card in 2015 and recorded a tie for sixth at the 2016 Portland Classic, her best finish. Last season, she had two top-15 finishes, including a tie for eighth at the New Zealand Women’s Open in September.
“I think just continuing to build on it,” Woods said, “trusting the work we've put in and just keeping up with my same routine of working on my swing, little things here and there, and then the putting to me is always good.”
Stacy Lewis admitted she gets tired easier these days but she has a good reason — she’s due to give birth to her first child in November.
“Feel pretty good,” Lewis said after the third round. “Definitely get a little more tired as the day goes on. The little one was telling me it's dinner time right now, but other than that I feel pretty good.”
Lewis was clearly feeling good after birdieing five of the last six holes Saturday to sit two shots off the lead. That’s not something that has always been the case since she found about her pregnancy back in February.
“I feel good. I wouldn't have said that about a month and a half ago, but I feel really good right now and just got a little hungry there at the end of the day,” Lewis said. “That delay kind of threw me off food wise, but other than that I feel pretty good.”
State of mind
The first year on tour has included a bit of everything for Talley. While she is still looking for that first victory, she’s had her share of highlights.
Talley has missed the cut just twice in nine events and has a pair of top-10 finishes, including a tie for fifth last month at the LA Open. She also made the cut in her first major, tying for 37th at the ANA Inspiration.
If her first win comes this week, Talley might move to Michigan. Her first professional victory came on the Symetra Tour last season at the Island Resort Championship in Harris, Mich.
“Yeah, Michigan's been really good to me,” she said. “One of my first pro tournaments last year around this time in Harris, Michigan. So yeah, Michigan has been very good to me.
Back in the swing
Jodi Ewart Shadoff is playing in her first tournament in roughly a month after injuring her back. She’s slowly working her way back, though her play this week shows little rust as she enters the final round two shots off the lead.
“Just keep doing what I'm doing,” Shadoff said. “I struggled with a back injury a month ago so this is my first tournament back so I'm just basically trying to see where I'm at, just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully it'll work out.”