Jared du Toit’s first campaign with the Arizona State Sun Devils men’s golf team came to an end Monday evening at the 2016 NCAA National Championship at Eugene Country Club in Oregon.
Battling difficult conditions, including high winds and fast greens, the Sun Devils scrapped to a ninth-place finish after the fourth round of stroke play action at the par-70, 7,014-yard Eugene Country Club, narrowly missing out on a berth into the Match Play Championship. The top eight teams in the stroke play event advanced to the Match Play Championship.
“It was definitely tough. There was so much emphasis on this year because we had three seniors and Jon [Rahm] obviously was playing really well,” du Toit said over the phone Tuesday afternoon from just outside Spokane as he made the trek home to Kimberley for the summer. “The goal all year has been to make it to match play. Once you get into match play, you can do work and anything can happen.
“Being the first team looking in or first team out, it really stings. It’s tough. None of the boys, including myself, really had good stuff on the final day. If we could’ve just played a little better, we’d still be there.”
Du Toit, a 21-year-old Kimberley product, finished the event tied for 45th after firing a four-round score of 10-over (290 – 72, 73, 71, 74). Despite missing out on match play, du Toit fought right to the bitter end, draining a chip shot from off the green to make birdie on his final hole of the tournament.
“From a personal standpoint, that golf course really demanded good driving,” du Toit said. “Normally, I’m a really good driver of the golf ball and I didn’t drive it particularly well. That kind of put myself behind the eight ball a little bit and made it really tough to score.
“That course was so firm and fast and so demanding from a ball-striking standpoint and an all-around standpoint. Every shot required so much focus. If you were caught sleeping all of a sudden you make a bogey. You do something stupid and all of a sudden you make another bogey.”
In total, du Toit bagged 13 bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple bogey over 72 holes at his first trip to the NCAA National Championship, but did his best to combat the damage with eight birdies and one eagle. All in all, it was an up-and-down weekend for the Kimberley native.
“I maybe put a little too much pressure on myself,” du Toit said. “All year on our team, we had three or four guys do a lot of the work. Obviously, Jon [Rahm] did most of the work… I kind of felt that no matter what I did, good or bad, I was going to be a counter. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself and tried to do a little too much, not just relax and play golf. Looking back, I needed to just relax a little bit and not put too much into it.”
Sophomore Aaron Wise of the University of Oregon claimed the individual crown with a 72-hole score of five-under par (275).
Rahm, the Sun Devils’ star and World Amateur No. 1, rounded out the tournament and his collegiate career in a tie for third with a four-round tally of one-under par (279).
The Match Play Championship, which began Tuesday, will determine the NCAA’s team champion for the season. Advancing to the Match Play Championship were Texas, Illinois, Louisiana State, Southern California, Vanderbilt, host Oregon, South Carolina and Oklahoma.
With his first season at ASU now in the books, du Toit is set to return to Canada for the summer where he will play and train out of the Glencoe Golf & Country Club in Calgary in preparation for a long list of tournaments and events.
First on the calendar is a Golf Canada camp and media day in Toronto as a representative on Team Canada’s national amateur squad. From there, du Toit will make tracks across the continent with a variety of events in Rochester, N.Y., San Francisco, Seattle and Saskatoon, just to name a few.
“I need to put a little more effort into actually going out and trying to win the golf tournament rather than just playing, essentially,” du Toit said of his focus this summer. “I’m going to put a little more emphasis into trying to contend and actually believing I can do it. I think all the tools are there. Sooner or later, hopefully I can pull out a fairly big win.”
The former Selkirk Secondary School student struck success in his first season under the Arizona sun after beginning his NCAA adventure with the University of Idaho Vandals men’s golf team.
With a top-five finish at the NCAA New Mexico Regional Championship and four top-10 finishes, du Toit earned recognition on the All-Pac-12 Second Team as voted upon by Pac-12 Conference head golf coaches.
His top-five mark at the New Mexico Regional helped ASU to its seventh regional title in program history (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2016).
Kimberley Golf Club is du Toit’s home track in the East Kootenay.