By Brad Ziemer
KELOWNA — Jared du Toit didn’t sleep especially well Friday night and had an early wake-up call with a 7:27 tee time Saturday morning at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club.
The rookie pro from Kimberley rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and played as a single Saturday morning in the third round of the GolfBC Championship, not knowing quite what to expect. Du Toit birdied the first two holes, but it turned out he was only getting started. Seven more birdies and an eagle followed as du Toit scorched Gallagher’s with a course record 10-under 61.
“I am thinking of taking the option on sleep tonight, too,” du Toit cracked after his round.
This is just the second pro event for du Toit, who was Canada’s top-ranked amateur before graduating earlier this spring from Arizona State University. The 22-year-old gained national attention last summer when he tied for ninth at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ont. He showed Saturday that was no fluke.
Du Toit’s magical round came after he barely made the cut early Friday night in the $175,000 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event. Playing in the final group, du Toit had to birdie his last hole of his second round to make the cut.
“All yesterday the cut was not taken for granted at all,” he said. “I really had to work for it, finished with three birdies on my last six to just make it, so I was just thrilled to play the weekend. I guess I was still pretty amped up when I got to bed and couldn’t sleep very well. I only got a couple hours of sleep, but I guess it worked out.”
He was first out Saturday and played as a single due to the odd number of players who made the cut. He completed his round in two hours and 54 minutes.
“I love playing as a single, I like going fast, I don’t like waiting too much,” he said. “That was awesome for me.
“It was just really solid ball-striking all day. I hit every par 5 in two and had really good looks at eagle at all of them and I made one of them. The par 4s I played really clean, hit a lot of balls in the fairway and gave myself good looks. My iron play was phenomenal. I made a few putts, but most of it was just great iron play, I think.”
Du Toit made five birdies on the front nine to make the turn in 31. But he made what he called a sloppy bogey on the tough 495-yard par 4 10th that fired him up.
“It was the first green I missed and normally my chipping is a great part of my game,” he said. “I had a real easy chip that I ran eight feet by and missed the putt. That really fired me up because I know in Round 1 I was five-under through nine as well and then things kind of snowballed on the back. I kind of told myself I am not going to let that happen again. I made a nice birdie on 11 and eagled 12 to get things rolling again.”
Du Toit added birdies on 14, 15 and 17 to get to 10-under for his round. He briefly contemplated trying to drive the green on the 348-yard par 4 18th to possibly give himself a putt for eagle and a shot at 59, but decided to go the safe route and hit an iron off the tee.
“I tried that in round one and made a pretty sloppy par. I was hitting my wedges and irons so close I figured with a little backstop on that hole I could get a wedge close. I hit a pretty good shot but missed the putt.”
Du Toit left himself a 15-foot look for birdie on 18, but powered the putt six feet past the hole. He had to sink a delicate, hard-breaking putt for his par and the 61. “Of course I made it interesting on 18,” du Toit said with a laugh. “I was going to power it into the hole. That probably was not the play.”
Saturday’s round, which du Toit called the best of his life, moved him into contention. The second-round leaders had not teed off when he finished his third round tied for the lead at 11-under.
“It is definitely different now,” he said. “I was honestly just thrilled to make the cut after having a couple of tough days in round one and two. So this is kind of all gravy right now. I am just going to try and go out and have a great game tomorrow and see what happens.”