Played in over 200 countries according to Forbes, golf has proven to be a global sport, and the Seton Hall men’s golf roster reflects just that. Four U.S. states, three foreign countries, and the Isle of Man are all represented on the current nine-man team.
Recruiting all over the country and the world poses a unique challenge for college coaches, but Pirates head coach Clay White has found an excellent source of talent on an island nation across the Pacific Ocean.
Freshman Tyler Po hails from the Cebu province of the Philippines, known primarily as a main center of commerce, trade, and industry for the region known as the Visayas. At Seton Hall, however, Cebu has become synonymous with the golf program. Po became the third Pirate golfer from Cebu, following in the footsteps of senior Gen Nagai and recently graduated star Lloyd Jefferson Go.
“Growing up, they were like older brothers to me,” Po said. “I admire them in a way. I got up to one of their match-plays and it was fun watching them go head-to-head.”
While Po admits that his friends’ experiences at Seton Hall influenced his decision to come to South Orange, he was also impressed by the opportunities he saw for himself in and out of the classroom.
“There’s a really good business school here, and I’m going to major in finance, and college is a different feel,” Po said. “At school in the Philippines, you’re there from eight to six, and then you go home. Here, I’m with these guys every day. You’re in and out of class, and it’s a new feeling for me.”
While adjusting to a new culture and academic setup presents a different challenge for every individual, Po is motivated to do well in his new environment.
“I want to get straight A’s for this guy,” Po said enthusiastically while gesturing toward White.
Having Nagai and other international golfers on campus will certainly help the freshman acclimate and achieve his goals.
However, he is already an accomplished athlete and is no stranger to travel. He began playing in tournaments in the United States during his junior year of high school and has played for the Philippine national team on several occasions.
When asked about the challenges of recruiting in the Philippines, a nation with a unique culture, a 12-hour time difference, and a climate bearing little resemblance to New Jersey’s, White’s answer was surprisingly simple.
“The best recruiters of a team are the players themselves,” White said.
White expanded on the talent pipeline in the Philippines by placing heavy influence on signing Go for his freshman year in 2014.
“The secret to recruiting in the Philippines is you get one of the best players to come out of the Philippines to come to your school, and then all of his friends come,” White said with a laugh.
“Lloyd had a great experience here, and then Gen came and had a good experience too,” White continued.
Nagai and Po are two of five current Division I golfers to come out of the Cebu Country Club, and White detailed the increased demand for Cebu’s student-athletes after Go’s career took off at Seton Hall. After competing against Gonzaga to sign Nagai, White said he began recruiting Po much earlier in his development.
Po will look to contribute to a Seton Hall squad which came in fourth place at the Big East Championship last May. The team begins their 2018-19 campaign at Colgate University’s Alex Lagowitz Memorial on Sept. 8 and 9.
Kyle Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notkylebeck.