Cheyenne Knight drove through Whataburger on her way home from winning her first LPGA event.
After a satisfying meal of chicken tenders, sweet tea and fries, there was dancing in the kitchen with her family to “We are the Champions” by Queen.
It didn’t really sink in, however, until later on Monday when the family watched the replay from the final round of the Volunteers of America LPGA Classic. Congratulatory texts from the likes of Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and the Korda sisters helped too.
The whirlwind continued throughout the week, with Knight boarding a plane bound for China after getting in the field for the Buick LPGA Shanghai. Her mom closed out all the Airbnb tabs on her computer for Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Now it’s all about guaranteed money on the Asian swing, a chance at a $1.5 million payday at the season finale in Naples, Florida, and an invitation to the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January. She’ll play at least two events in Asia – Shanghai and Taiwan. She’s the fifth alternate for Japan.
This from a rookie who hadn’t even cracked the top 20 on the LPGA in 18 starts.
“Winning is a mindset,” said Knight’s Alabama coach, Mic Potter. “You’ve got to believe you can do it. Cheyenne, always deep within, believed it.”
Knight’s win is refreshing for many, Potter continued, because she’s not a power player. Indeed, she ranks 129th in driving distance on the LPGA. But Knight figured out how to play to her strengths, recently watching video of her swing in college to get back to what got on her tour.
“You’ve got to be yourself,” she said. “You can’t be insecure. You’ve got to own your own golf game.”
Knight puts a premium on short game. She often drops down five balls in practice and challenges herself to make one of the chips. She chipped in four times at the VOA and twice at the Indiana stop the week prior.
In college, chipping became an offensive weapon.
“She uses trajectory so that the ball rolls true,” Potter said. “Her chips become like putts better than anybody I’ve ever had.”
Knight, who sings the praises of her coaches in Tuscaloosa, made putts when it mattered at Alabama, too. The four-time champ said winning on the collegiate level is a must for anyone hoping to triumph on the LPGA.
Knight’s love of competition dates back to watching her big brother play soccer and footballs games.
Cheyenne was 12 years old the night she woke up to the sound of her mother’s screams. Brandon died at age 20, the victim of a drunk driving accident.
She plays for Brandon, dedicating her first LPGA title to him. Brandon’s death brings perspective to what can be a maddening and inexplicable game. At 22, she has already lived on longer than her brother.
“I don’t know what my time on earth will be,” she said. “Each day is a gift. Sometimes I have to do a reality check with golf, especially when playing on the LPGA tour and doing what I love.”
The Knight family lost Brandon in July 2008 and in December of that same year, her mother lost her brother in a motorcycle accident. Last year Cheyenne lost her grandfather.
Knight didn’t pray for a win on Sunday in Texas, 60 miles from her childhood home of Aledo. Instead she gave thanks for the opportunity.
Now the doors are flying off the hinges.