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Tiger's niece makes pro debut with 75

If a golfer's phone buzzed the night before a round with a text message from Tiger Woods, most would jump for joy.

For Cheyenne Woods, it's just another day in the life.

Tiger sent his niece a good luck message Wednesday night in advance of her first round as a professional, which took place Thursday morning in the Wegmans LPGA Championship, held at Locust Hill Country Club.

"He just told me to trust my game, so that's what I'm trying to do," Cheyenne said. "I've been waiting and waiting for this moment and I couldn't wait to get out here. I was a little nervous starting off, but it felt good to be out there and finally out playing."

Woods, a 21-year-old who recently graduated from Wake Forest, doesn't even have a photo on the LPGA website. She finished her round with a 3-over par 75, tying her for 61st overall, six shots off the lead. She teed off from the first hole at 8:10 Thursday morning in a group with Christine Song and Song-Hee Kim of South Korea; the trio starts today at 2:26 p.m. from the 10th hole.

It only took two holes for Woods' first bogey, but she bounced back with a birdie on No. 5. She bogeyed again on six, but birdied nine to finish even on the front nine.

Back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 and a double-bogey on 16 had Woods four shots above par, but a birdie on the par-5 17th salvaged the outing.

Woods, with curly hair flowing out of a Nike hat that matched her purple polo shirt, lined up her best shot of the day on the par-4 18th, an iron shot that rolled within inches of the cup. She couldn't hold back a smile.

"It felt really good, especially on 18 with the grandstands and all the fans," she said. "I was trying to save par, so fortunately I did."

Woods is used to the media attention associated with having a famous name, but playing as a professional is new.

"This is my career now. Before this I was just playing to improve and get better. But it's exciting, this is what I love and I'm actually getting paid for it. It's intimidating being out here with the Yani Tsengs and Paula Creamers for the first time. I'm just excited and taking everything in and using it as experience for my future career."

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Michelle Wie, a pro since 2005 with nearly $2.5 million in career earnings, cracked her 3-wood on the driving range Thursday morning while warming up. She had planned to tee off with it several times but didn't have a replacement and played with 13 clubs.

"Thought I was having a mini-panic attack this morning when my 3-wood cracked 15 min before my tee time!," Wie tweeted after her round.

She posted shortly after she shot 2-over 74 that she was able to get a new 3-wood head from a local Nike dealer and planned to test it on the driving range.

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Fans coming out to Locust Hill this weekend or tuning in from home can follow along on Twitter, as all caddies have their golfer's Twitter handle on their back below their last name. Most players are on Twitter, including first-round leaders @RyannOToole and @BeatrizRecari, the world's top-ranked player @YaniTseng, as well as fan favorites @Cheyenne_Woods, @ThePCreamer, @natalie_gulbis and @TheMichelleWie.

With Wegmans being the title sponsor for the LPGA's second major of the season, the tee markers at every hole are miniature shopping carts. Kris Tamulis, who finished plus-2, tweeted that she was very excited to have one.

email: nveronica@buffnews.com