Kimberley native and University of Idaho Vandals sophomore golfer Jared du Toit tees off during the opening round of action at the NCAA’s 2015 Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort in Angels Camp

Kimberley native and University of Idaho Vandals sophomore golfer Jared du Toit tees off during the opening round of action at the NCAA’s 2015 Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort in Angels Camp

Within striking distance

Kimberley's Jared du Toit within striking distance after opening round of NCAA's 2015 Big Sky Conference Men's Golf Championship

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit is in the hunt for the 2015 NCAA Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship after 18 holes at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort in Angels Camp, Calif.

The University of Idaho Vandals sophomore and former student at Kimberley’s Selkirk Secondary School opened the tournament with a one-over 73 during the first round of play, good enough to leave him in a tie for third heading into the second round.

“It definitely could’ve gone better. I made a couple mistakes, stupid little mistakes that just cost me a shot here and there,” du Toit said over the phone from Angels Camp Monday after his opening round. “But other than that, I did a lot of good things. Other than a couple bad breaks, I played pretty solid golf. If I can just build off the positives for tomorrow and fine tune everything else, I’ll be good to go come the final two rounds.

“I was a little indecisive on some tee shots and some approach shots. When you’re a little indecisive, you don’t make the best swing. [Tuesday], having played this course a couple times, my decisions will be a little more crisp and more definite. Hopefully that shows in my score and I can play a little more aggressive and a little more confident.”

du Toit is one stroke back of co-leaders Riley Hayfield (Sacramento State) and Aaron Cockerill (Idaho) after opening day. Both fired opening-day 72s to finish the day even par.

Three other players join du Toit in a four-way tie for third place after the first round. Vandals teammate Daniel Sutton along with Nic Booth (Southern Utah) and Devon Purser (Weber State), all sit at one-over par heading into the second round.

Round two of the 2015 Big Sky Men’s Championship is slated to get underway Tuesday morning. Tee times for round were not set as of print deadline Monday.

du Toit, ranked fourth amongst Canadian men’s amateur golfers as of April 23, opened the 54-hole conference championship by draining birdies on three of his first four holes before a double-bogey on the 204-yard, par-three eighth hole dropped him to a one-under 35 on the front nine.

“I kind of had a clear mind coming in and shot by shot played smart,” du Toit said. “I left my approach shots on the right spot of the green and gave myself a good chance at making birdie on the first five holes.”

After knocking down three birdies, five pars and one double bogey on the 3,346-yard front nine, du Toit ran into a bit of trouble on the 3,454-yard back nine.

The Kimberley native dropped two birdies, but marked down four bogeys along the way. When all was said and done, he headed into the clubhouse after pencilling in a two-over 38 on the back stretch at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort Monday afternoon.

“The back nine is definitely tougher than the front nine,” du Toit said. “There’s a couple holes that take the driver out of your hand and you’ve really got to position yourself. I feel like a lot of holes on the back nine are [about] trying to make par and eliminate the big number. When you get defensive, they start to go away.

“The holes are a little oddly shaped. It’s just a little tougher.”

Not only is du Toit in the hunt for the individual title, his Idaho Vandals crew sits atop the team leaderboard with a combined seven-over 295. Host-team Sacramento State is on the heels of the Vandals after registering an nine-over 297 in round one.

Leading the way is Cockerill, a fellow Canadian, at even par. Daniel Sutton sits tied with du Toit at one-over, while Rylee Iacolucci (five-over, T16) and Ryan Porch (10-over, T32) round out the Vandals opening-day scoring.

du Toit is one of four Canadians competing for the 2015 Big Sky Men’s Golf Championship. He is joined by Cockerill (Stony Mountain, Man.) as well as Jack Sedgewick (Newmarket, Ont.) and Sameer Kalia (Campbellville, Ont.), both of Binghamton University.

Sedgewick found himself in a tie for 30th place at 10-over par at the end of the day. Kalia came into the clubhouse at 13-over par, tied for 38th after his opening round.

The men’s golf championship features 40 competitors from eight NCAA institutions. Competing for the Big Sky Men’s Golf Championship are: the Binghamton University Bearcats (Binghamton, N.Y.), University of Hartford Hawks (West Hartford, Conn.), University of Idaho Vandals (Moscow, Idaho), University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.), University of Northern Colorado Bears (Greeley, Col.), Sacramento State Hornets (Sacramento, Calif.), Southern Utah University Thunderbirds (Cedar City, Utah) and Weber State University Wildcats (Ogden, Utah).

The Big Sky Conference is a Division I NCAA conference.

Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort is located in Angels Camp, Calif., approximately 130 km southeast of Sacramento.

The 6,801-yard, par-72 track re-designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., opened in 1996 and wanders through the rolling Sierra Foothills, featuring 100-year-old oak trees above underground diggings left behind from the California Gold Rush of 1848 to 1855.

This year marks the first NCAA Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship since Weber State University claimed the 2002 conference title. Men’s golf was absent from Big Sky Conference athletics from 2003 through 2014.

For more on du Toit’s quest for the 2015 NCAA Big Sky Men’s Golf Championship, watch and follow Townsman/Bulletin sports editor Taylor Rocca on Twitter.