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February 15 2013

10:23 PM

Wooding defies odds, makes cut

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The way Jeremiah Wooding saw it he had nothing to lose.

After all, probably no one outside his immediate family thought the UNLV product had a chance to make the cut at the Northern Trust Open. Particularly not after Wooding, who was playing in his first PGA TOUR event, opened with a 75 at Riviera on Thursday.

But Wooding, who is playing this week on the Northern Trust Open exemption, given to a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf, didn't give up.

"I just tried to stay patient and I knew nothing was going to be given to me and I had to me and I had to earn it," Wooding said. "It was fun. It was fun grinding it out."

The 24-year-old Californian set the tone for the day when he made a 15-footer for eagle at the first hole. He promptly gave those strokes back with bogeys on his next two holes but that was a momentary blip -- Wooding got back on track when he rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at No. 5.

Wooding then made a 5-footer for his second eagle of the day at the 11th hole to get to 1 over, which was the cut line for most of the afternoon. Again, he followed with a bogey but surged up the leaderboard with three birdies in his final six holes to get to 1 under for the tournament and into a tie for 37th.

"I just kind of said, why not, why not just let it go," Wooding said. "Have nothing to lose. ... I just said, let it go, pick a target. That's what I did, wasn't afraid to lose, wasn't afraid of anything, just go get it."

As Wooding walked away from the 18th hole after making a 5-footer for the last birdie, his old brother, Joshua -- who played on the same exemption in 2010 -- wrapped him in a bear hug.

"It was a very cool experience," Jeremiah said.

Jeremiah, who has conditional status on the Web.com Tour after making the finals of q-school last year, is the first of the five Northern Trust Open exemption recipients to make the cut in the PGA TOUR event.

"We are a small group of minority golfers and we are a small crew; and that was one of my goals to be the first one," Wooding said. "Not to take anything away from the guys that had come before me, but this is an opportunity that is well appreciated by the five of us that have gotten an exemption, and to make the most of it is great; to take the exemption and make the most out of it."

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