Jose de Jesus Rodriguez proud of unlikely journey from undocumented laborer to PGA rookie

As he began to play as a regular on the PGA Tour late last year, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez was often asked if he was nervous stepping onto the course. After all, this was golf’s most grandiose stage, with the biggest stars, and even at 37, Rodriguez was a newcomer to the game.

Then he would describe his background and how he got here: About the days in central Mexico when he went without food, the dirt floor he slept on in an adobe hut before crossing the neck-deep Rio Grande into the United States at 15, when he couldn’t swim.

Sometimes, he’d share how, after a decade of laboring tirelessly in the U.S., he returned to Mexico and only then began playing golf competitively. But the game came relatively easy, in large part because of what he’d already overcome.

No, he’d say, he wasn’t nervous to swing a club, even on the PGA Tour.

“If I wasn’t afraid to go through the treacherous trials to get here — through the river, through whatever I had to endure to get to this point, it’s not going to be any more nerve-wracking now," he said through an interpreter.

In the California desert this week, Rodriguez will enter his seventh Tour event of the season at the Desert Classic at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club. He is coming off a 57th-place finish in the Sony Open in Hawaii and has made the cut four times.

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