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Cheyenne Woods won the Spring Lake, New Jersey, U.S. Women’s Open qualifier by five strokes on Monday and credited a two-stroke penalty for lighting the fire that got her there.
On the par-4 seventh hole at Spring Lake Golf Club, both Woods and her playing partner hit their second shots to the right on a somewhat blind approach. Woods said she hit her second shot quite poorly and assumed hers was the ball nestled down in the rough on the edge of a bunker. Her playing partner indicated that the ball on the green was hers.
After Woods, 30, hit chipped third shot, she realized she’d hit the wrong Titleist ball. Woods incurred a two-stroke penalty, giving her a double-bogey on the hole.
“Honestly, I feel like the penalty really dialed in my focus and got me a little angry,” said Woods, “where I just wanted to just play my way in.”
Woods, who was 3 over on the day, promptly birdied the next two holes to shoot 73 in her opening round. On her second 18, a more aggressive Woods notched five birdies en route to a 69. Her 2-under 142 put her five ahead of Megha Ganne, Leigha Devine and Savannah Vilaubi.
Ganne ultimately secured the second qualifying spot via a playoff.
The 76th U.S. Women’s Open will be played June 3-6 at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course in San Francisco. Woods last qualified for the championship in 2018.
“With my conditional status on the LPGA,” said Woods, “I don’t really have many opportunities to play. I’m very grateful for the ones I get.”
During Major League Baseball season, Woods spends most of her off-weeks in the New York City area as boyfriend Aaron Hicks is an outfielder for the New York Yankees. Hicks, who played in the LPGA’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January, flew down to Tampa, Florida, on Sunday and had to settle for qualifying updates from Woods in between rounds.
Woods, who takes in as many Yankees games as she can, will compete in next week’s Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA and will then work for Golf Channel covering the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship near her home in Phoenix. She’ll also be part of Golf Channel’s coverage for both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior this summer.