GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) – Cheyenne Woods won the Australian Ladies Masters on Sunday for her first major professional tour victory, holding off 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee by two strokes.
The 23-year-old Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, closed with a 4-under 69 at Royal Pines to finish at 16-under 276. Lee also shot 69 in the event sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.
Woods birdied the par-5 15th to open a two-stroke lead, hitting a wedge from about 120 yards to 4 feet. On the par-5 18th, she matched Lee with a birdie, holing out from 1 1/2 feet.
“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” Woods said. “The European Tour has been great to be able to play this past year. I’ve been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members … to be able to come out here and compete with them and come out on top was huge for me.”
From Phoenix, Woods is the daughter of Earl Woods Jr., Tiger Woods’ half brother.
Woods turned professional in 2012 after an All-America career at Wake Forest and her only previous pro victory came in 2012 in a SunCoast mini-tour event. In December, she missed the cut in the LPGA Tour’s qualifying tournament in a failed bid to earn a spot on the circuit.
“I’ve been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting,” she said. “It’s nice now to say to people that I can play and I’m not just a name. Growing up with the last name of Woods, there’s a lot of expectations and pressure and spotlight on you but I always knew that I was able to win. I always knew I’d be able to compete with these ladies, so now it’s kind of a weight off my shoulders because now everybody knows not just me.”
Woods earned $51,000 and a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour. She will play next week in the LPGA Tour-sanctioned Women’s Australian Open in Victoria.
South Africa’s Stacy Lee Bregman and Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth tied for third at 12 under. Bergman closed with a 72, and Lenmarth had a 70.
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