By Woodard, Dale on March 23, 2020.
Jared du Toit had one last event to play in.
He made it count.
Playing in the final round of the Western Skies Classic as part of the Outlaw Tour Thursday in Gilbert, Arizona, the 24-year-old golfer from Kimberly B.C. shot a rare 59 to rocket himself back into contention and into a tie for first after opening rounds of 64 and 68.
That 11-under 191 put du Toit in a three-man playoff he ultimately lost to fellow Canadian, Wil Bateman of Edmonton, but with du Toit putting his clubs away amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cracking 60 was a nice way to go out.
“There was a delayed round, so we had to come back the next morning and play six holes,” said du Toit, who played in last year’s Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open as part of the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour at the Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, finishing tied for 11th. “I played pretty average, nothing was really going and then we had a two-hour break, kind of got a fresh start and I was feeling good. I was playing aggressive and the guy in my group was playing aggressive and we were going toe-to-toe all day. I really didn’t think about the number too much, but we were on 17 and I think we were both 10-under and it was like ‘Wow, all we need is one more birdie to get the magic number.’ I got to 18 and shot the magic number, so it was pretty cool.”
The 18th hole was a weird one, said du Toit.
“You don’t hit a driver, you hit some kind of iron and then some kind of wedge into kind of a weird green. I didn’t get my best T-shot, but I got away with it and hit a wedge into the green. I hit it probably 10 or 15 feet past the hole and it spun back to six or seven feet. I was able to make that putt and get the score.”
du Toit pocketed $2,350 for his runner-up finish, tied with Carson Roberts of Conway, Arizona.
“I played really solid and round one and round two it was kind of weird,” he said. “We had this huge storm in Arizona, so we were called off the course, then put back out, then called off. It was kind of tough for me to get into a rhythm. I didn’t shoot the best score. It was a 68, but it’s a pretty easy golf course. I just went out and tried to go with everything amidst all the chaos and was able to do that successfully.”
While the COVID-19 virus has put a stop to sporting events across the globe, the Western Skies Classic was able to take place with the proper precautions.
“It’s very few people on a lot of land, so we were kind of lucky that way and if you take the right precautions it’s not too harmful, I don’t think,” said du Toit. “As we learn more about this virus maybe we’ll look back in a couple weeks and think ‘Wow, we were really stupid to go play,’ but at least for the time being it seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of players right now with no work from tours all over the world that were playing this week because nobody had anything to do. So we were definitely fortunate that that was even an option. It’s not something a lot of people have had.”
As for the golfers themselves, they abided by the main COVID-19 rule, no hand shakes.
“We were throwing elbows at each other all week instead of fist bumps,” said du Toit. “It was kind of weird. You just avoided as much small random contact as possible and I think they did a good job of it.”
The Outlaw Tour has the following week off before resuming with the Wigwam Gold Championship March 30 to April 2 in Litchfield Park, Arizona, but with uncertainty about the COVID pandemic still swirling, du Toit is heading back to the Canadian side of the border.
“I’ve talked to family and friends and I think a lot of people are rightfully spooked right now, especially somebody not living in their home country,” said do Toit, who said he will likely head for Kimberly, where his parents and siblings reside.
“For me, I think I’ll have more peace of mind being at home with healthcare and everything if it ever did come to that. So I think I’m going to start driving home Saturday.”
The amount of time off as a result of the virus remains a question mark.
“You hear everything from a couple weeks to five or six months, nobody really knows,” said du Toit. “It’s going to be a weird one.”
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