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Former Ladycat Cheyenne Knight wins first LPGA tournament

After sinking her tournament-winning putt, Cheyenne Knight celebrates to the heavens while paying homage to her late brother, Brandon Burgett, moments after winning the LPGA's Volunteers of America Classic at Old American Golf Club at The Colony. Photo by Tony Eierdam

Coming back from a two-stroke deficit after eight holes, former Aledo Ladycats two-time state-champion golfer Cheyenne Knight shot a 5-under par 66 to win the LPGA Volunteer of America Classic by two strokes Sunday afternoon at Old American Golf Club at The Colony.

Knight finished 66, 67, 67, 66 on the par-71 course for a score of 266, 18-under par, easily Knight’s lowest tournament score on tour and her highest finish. Her previous highest finish this season was a tie for 29th place.

Knight, a rookie this season on the LPGA Tour, came into the tournament needing to place no lower than fifth without ties to retain her tour privileges for 2020. This was the last stop on the LPGA money list for 2019.

Knight was down two strokes after the eighth hole and she was almost three strokes down but her playing partner, Jaye Marie Green – who was in the lead by two strokes – missed a five-foot birdie putt on the 8th.

Knight came back with consecutive chip-ins for birdies at holes 9 and 10 that gave her a one-stroke lead. Knight followed with a birdie on 13 and another birdie on 17 – both par 5s – to take a lead that held until the 17th hole, when Brittany Altomare birdied to tie Knight at 17 under.

However, Altomare bogeyed No. 18, and Knight said she was aware of her situation when she reached the 18th hole. On 18, Knight’s approach shot landed 20 feet from the flag, and knowing she was ahead by two strokes she laid up on her birdie attempted and tapped in for the par that made the Aledo graduate an LPGA tour winner.

Knight said coming into the final round that rather than protect her score to ensure a top-five finish (she was a stroke behind the leader in second place after three rounds) that she decided to play aggressive and looked to the bigger prize.

Previous to the VOA tourney, Knight missed three cuts in the previous four tournaments she played in.

“I came in trying to win,” she said. “I was literally in a dark place last month, and I remember walking off the green so upset when I missed my last cut. I told myself to get back to the basics. My mindset was to win the tournament, but if I didn’t win I was going to be OK if something crazy happened and I wouldn’t get top five.”

Knight’s wedge was working for her today with the two chip ins.

“I was confident with the wedge because I had two chips in already this week,” she said. “I debated putting it on 9, but there was too much of the fringe in front of the ball and since I had been chipping well I went to the wedge. I hit my spot just how I wanted.

“On 10, I had the wind knock it down…you have to laugh about that, I mean, two chip ins in a row. I think those two birdies changed the momentum for me.”

Knight earned $195,000 for her victory, and her ranking moved up to 49. The Top 100 players on the money list retain their tour standing for the following season.

But, as a tournament winner, Knight is exempt on the LPGA for 2020 and 2021, including all majors.

For more on Cheyenne Knight’s first-ever LPGA victory see the Oct. 11 issue of The Community News.

Cheyenne Knight displays her “big check” as she poses with  World Golf Hall of Fame member Kathy Whitworth (far left). Knight shot 18-under par to win the LPGA Volunteers of America Classic. Photo by Tony Eierdam

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