ASU leads, du Toit contending heading into final day of NCAA Regionals

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit sits fourth on individual leaderboard heading into final round of NCAA New Mexico Regional

Kimberley native Jared du Toit and the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils are 18 holes away from claiming the 2016 NCAA New Mexico Regional championship.

With a team score of six-over par (582) through 36 holes, the Sun Devils hold a lead of 15 strokes over second-place Texas Christian University (TCU) at the par-72, 7,562-yard University of New Mexico Champions Course with final-round action slated to tee off Wednesday morning in Albuquerque.

While the Sun Devils are perched atop the overall team leaderboard, du Toit is doing his part to drive the success, sitting fourth at one-over par (145) on the individual board. Teammate Jon Rahm — the top-ranked amateur golfer in the World Amateur Golf Rankings — is in first place, four-under par (140) through 36 holes.

du Toit, who is currently the top-ranked amateur golfer in Canada and ranked 85th in the world, was unavailable for comment prior to print deadline Tuesday afternoon.

The second round of the regional tournament played out in suspiciously similar fashion to the first for du Toit. An up-and-down front nine saw the junior knock down three birdies along with a double-bogey and bogey to round the turn at even par.

The back nine saw du Toit battle with bogeys on the 517-yard, par-four 10th and 360-yard, par-four 15th, before coming into the clubhouse on a good note with a birdie on the 544-yard, par-five 18th.

On the opening day of the New Mexico Regional, du Toit had himself an up-and-down day that ultimately balanced itself out when he walked off the 544-yard, par-five 18th hole and signed his scorecard. Despite collecting an eagle and three birdies, du Toit also pencilled in a double-bogey and three bogeys to land an even-par 72 through 18 holes.

The low five teams and the low individual not from one of those teams at the NCAA New Mexico Regional tournament will advance to the NCAA National Championship (May 27 to June 1) at Eugene Country Club in Oregon.

The 2016 season has been one of monumental proportion for du Toit — his first go around with the Sun Devils after transferring from the University of Idaho and the Vandals golf program at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign.

du Toit was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team, recognition of his success on the links, with the teams being voted upon by Pac-12 Conference head golf coaches.

The former Selkirk Secondary School student racked up four top-10 finishes during his first season of Pac-12 competition, including at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational (T-8), Amer Ari Invitational (T-10), Prestige at PGA West (seventh) and Lamkin Grips SD Classic (eighth).

The final round of play at the NCAA New Mexico Regional is scheduled to tee off at 7:30 a.m. (Mountain). Du Toit will tee off at 9:18 a.m. alongside Paul Barjon (TCU, T-9) and Chase Koepka (South Florida, T-12).

ASU has struck for six regional titles in its history (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2009) and Rahm was the individual regional winner at the 2015 NCAA San Diego Regional, which he followed up by winning the 2016 Pac-12 crown.

The Sun Devils have won two NCAA National Championships, the most recent coming 20 years ago in 1996. The first was in 1991. The program has also produced six individual NCAA champions, including Jim Carter (1983), Phil Mickelson (1989, 1990, 1992), Todd Demsey (1993) and Alejandro Canizares (2003).