PALM COAST, Fla. – Toks Pedro hopes one day his play can make a difference.
A senior captain for Rutgers, Pedro is the first Division I golfer from Nigeria – a country that has little history in golf. Pedro could help change that.
The senior is ranked 611th by Golfweek this season. Over his career at Rutgers, he has been a key part of the lineup all four years.
When Rutgers head coach Rob Shutte was on the recruiting trail, he could tell Pedro would be a difference-maker.
“He was just such a special kid,” Shutte said. “His golf swing stood out in a way where he just hit five-yard draws every time on the range and you say, ‘What a specimen this guy is.’ ”
Pedro’s plan is to turn pro at the end of this summer and move to Florida to compete on the Minor League Golf Tour. If he feels confident and has sponsor backing, he’ll try Web.com Tour Q-School.
If Pedro, 21, can gain notoriety as a pro, he hopes that will grow the game in Nigeria. Pedro and South Carolina sophomore Anita Uwadia could bolster those hopes.
“Where I grew up, it’s perfect climate, perfect terrain (for golf),” said Pedro, who was raised for over a decade in Lagos State in Nigeria. “It’s right by the water, so there’s a lot of space for golf courses. If golf was something of interest, (it could pop up quickly.)”
If Pedro’s dreams are realized, he hopes to one day set up a golf academy in Nigeria as well as redesign Ikoyi Golf Club (his home course).
The pro golf jump can be a grind, but Pedro is used to taking leaps. He was born in Maryland to Nigerian parents before moving to Nigeria around age 1 (his dad, Femi, became deputy governor of Lagos State). At age 13, young Pedro felt moving back to the U.S. alone would be best for his college golf dreams.
He convinced his dad, and he would go to the Junior Players Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C. for the next five years.
Pedro’s personality also seems to suit that of a future golf ambassador. He is known for keeping things light.
Shutte notes Pedro is the player scoreboard officials will often point out for his kind manner.
“His smile is contagious,” Shutte said. Gwk