By Brad Ziemer

When he missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by a single shot late last month, Jared du Toit wasn’t as disappointed as you might expect.

“I knew the GolfBC Championship was the same week as the U.S. Open,” du Toit said. “Normally, I would have been a little more bummed about not getting in, but knowing that I had this week, which is one of my favourite weeks on the Mackenzie Tour, took a little bit of the sting out of it.”

The 24-year-old Kimberley native has something of a love affair going with Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club, the site of this week’s $200,000 GolfBC Championship.

In his two appearances at the GolfBC Championship, du Toit has two top 10s. He finished tied for ninth in the 2017 event, when he shot a course record 61 in the third round. And last year, du Toit finished alone in fifth place for his best-ever Mackenzie Tour result.

Du Toit was a combined 28-under par at Gallagher’s Canyon in his previous two visits to the course. He is, of course, hoping the birdies keep flying this week. Du Toit has a simple explanation for his success at Gallagher’s Canyon. It reminds him of home.

“I think the biggest thing is it looks pretty similar to a lot of the stuff that I grew up on,” he said. “Growing up in Kimberley up in the mountains, there is a lot of elevation and huge trees, so it is kind of like Gallagher’s. I think basically it just fits me. It is a place where you’ve got to spot your ball. You don’t hit that many drivers. I may only hit two or three drivers a round. Some guys, if they are being aggressive, may hit five or six. But you really don’t hit that many. It’s just a course where both years I have got off to pretty good starts and kept it going. I think the biggest thing is that it is visually close to what I grew up on.”

Du Toit is beginning his third full year on the Mackenzie Tour. Like pretty much everyone else, he hopes it is his last. As much as he enjoys playing in Canada, the former B.C. Junior Boys champion is anxious to move up to the Tour and then to every pro golfer’s ultimate destination: the PGA Tour.

Du Toit is looking to regain some of the consistency he seemed to lose last year. In his rookie season on the Mackenzie Tour in 2017, du Toit made the cut in all 11 events he played in and finished 23rd on the money list. Last year, he missed four cuts in 12 events and finished 32nd on the money list. He has had a less than stellar start to his 2019 campaign. Du Toit tied for 51st in the season-opening Canada Life Open in Vancouver and then missed the cut the following week at the Bayview Place DCBank Open in Victoria.

He thinks his game is close, however. In addition to missing out on the U.S. Open by one shot at that qualifier in Dallas, du Toit missed getting into last week’s RBC Canadian Open by one shot at a Monday qualifier at Heron Point Golf Links in Ontario.

“The one that stings a little more is the Canadian Open one,” he said. “Conditions were very tough. In my mind before the round I knew in years past three or four-under got in. So I am standing on the 17th tee at one-under and thinking that I need to do something crazy to get in and in hindsight I really just needed a couple of pars and I would have been good. So that one stung quite a bit.

“Dallas was my first US Open qualifier and honestly I played great. I didn’t make enough putts. It was basically a PGA Tour field. There were 20 or 30 PGA Tour players who were competing that week at Colonial, so to play solid and know I can compete out there was kind of good as well.”

It has now been three years since a Canadian has won a Mackenzie Tour event and du Toit would love to be the guy who ends that streak. He thinks many casual golf fans just don’t realize how good the Mackenzie Tour is.

“The fields just seem to get deeper every year,” he said. “The depth of pro golf is great, I know that. I also know that my good golf can compete with the best of them. For me, it’s just totally internal. I just need to focus on my business, do my homework before each event and when it comes time to play, just play.

“It’s a game I have been playing since I was a little kid and a game that I have loved since I was a little kid, so I don’t worry too much about the actual golf. For me, it’s more about all the preparation and making sure I am feeling good and in a good mindset before I tee it up.”