A long journey that began across the Atlantic Ocean will come to an end this week, when St. John’s golfer Obe Ayton plays in his final collegiate tournament for the Red Storm in the Big East Championships.
For Ayton, who began golfing at age 15 but didn’t compete seriously until he turned 18 or 19, growing up overseas in England gave him a prodigious work ethic that he still carries today.
“Sport in England isn’t pushed. It’s more that you have to drive yourself,” he said. “There’s no college teams. There’s no high school teams. You have to get good at the sport yourself.”
That work ethic carried him to the United States for college, where he first enrolled at LIU Brooklyn in 2012. He was named the Northeast Conference (NEC) Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-NEC Second Team after an impressive freshman season for the Blackhawks.
“I enjoyed it there, it was a good introduction to America,” he said. “I was the best golfer there and I got a lot of attention.”
But, after playing just one more season at LIU Brooklyn, Ayton would make the decision to transfer to St. John’s for his final two years of eligibility.
“I wanted to take my golf more seriously, I just moved because I wanted to better my sport,” he said.
That move has turned out to be a positive one for Ayton, who says that after a rough first year at St. John’s he has started to really enjoy it here, and his game on the course has improved as well.
This season he has shot a team-low 73 average in tournaments, including a tie for sixth place at the Peacocks Invitational in New Jersey after a second place finish at the Princeton Invitational just two days earlier on April 12.
Ayton said that he hasn’t made any major changes to his swing in almost a year and that his recent success is a product of a great deal of hard work from that point on.
“Last year I found something that clicked,” Ayton said. “It’s annoying because it’s such a slow progression, but I’m just getting better and better at it. I’m starting to see the results.”
Now that he’ll be playing in his final collegiate tournament at the Big East Championships later this week, Ayton got a chance to reflect on his career.
“My best memories are really just playing in tournaments all around America and having the support from the school in everything that I do,” he said.
After he finishes his Red Storm career, Ayton says that he plans on continuing to golf. “My plan is to go professional, but I want to wait until I’m good enough. I’m not in any rush,” he said. “But I think these last few events have really given me a bit of confidence to try the pro circuit.”