BY BRAD ZIEMER
KELOWNA — Jared du Toit wasn’t hitting it so well during one of his practice rounds earlier this week and had some difficulty believing he somehow managed to shoot a 10-under 61 at Gallagher’s Canyon one year ago.
“It was the weirdest thing,” du Toit said. “I was playing a practice round and wasn’t playing great and I was like, ‘man, I don’t know how I shot 61 here, it is kind of tough.’”
It turns out the Kimberley native hasn’t forgotten how to make birdies at Gallagher’s Canyon. He fired a six-under 65 in Thursday’s first round of the GolfBC Championship to position himself nicely in the $200,000 Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event.”
“It is definitely good to have that 61 in the back of my mind,” du Toit said after his round. “You know there are birdies out here if you are hitting your irons well. It’s good to have in the memory bank.”
That 61 came in the third round of last year’s GolfBC Championship, where du Toit went on to finish tied for ninth place.
On Thursday, du Toit made four birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free round that left him in a tie for sixth place.
The eagle came on the par 5 sixth hole when his six-iron approach landed about 12 feet from the hole.
Du Toit played well in Victoria last week, at least until the final round. He closed with a five-over 75 at Uplands Golf Club and fell into a tie for 23rd.
After that finish it was nice to get off to such a positive start at Gallagher’s. Du Toit thinks he is regaining his form following some struggles earlier this year with his game,
“I wasn’t playing well for a couple of months and it takes a little bit of a toll on you,” he said. “I was in the mix in Victoria and I actually played well in Vancouver, too, but just didn’t get much out of it, so it is coming around and I am definitely feeling pretty good about it.”
Some other Canadians also got off to solid starts Thursday. Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald, who has been playing on the Web.com Tour, opened with a five-under 66. So did Blair Hamilton of Burlington, Ont. Ryan Williams of Vancouver, who was second here two years ago, shot a three-under 68.
Kelowna amateur Matt Hopley celebrated his 16th birthday Thursday and made the turn at one-under par. A late double-bogey on the par 3 16th hole dropped him to back and he finished with a two-over 73.
“I think I am happy with 73 and I am going to go low tomorrow and make the cut,” Hopley said.
Hopley also played in the event last year and said he felt much more comfortable on Thursday than he did a year ago.
“Absolutely, so much more,” he said. “It was cool to see the difference between this year and last year.”