Jared du Toit had joked before his PGA Tour debut this week about how it might be a bad idea to ask some of the players he would be teeing it up with for their autographs at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont.
After posting a five-under 67 in the first round of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday that left him tied for third. just one shot behind co-leaders Luke List and Dustin Johnson, it was du Toit who needed the pen.
“It’s the first time I’ve had to sign autographs after rounds. That was awesome, definitely a lot of fun. It’s definitely in the top three rounds I’ve played in my career,” said the 21-year-old amateur from Calgary, who earned a national team exemption from Golf Canada.
After posting birdies on four of his first six holes, du Toit double bogeyed the seventh and made the turn at two under.
“I think my start surprised me a bit. There’s definitely birdie holes out there, but I was birdieing a couple of holes that are, I think, kind of tougher around here,” said du Toit.
“Yeah, I kind of fought hard all day and finished up with a couple of nice ones,” he added.
His finish actually put an exclamation mark on his day by defining golf, with a sudden change of fortune on the 17th hole, where he holed out from 154 yards from a fairway bunker for eagle, then birdied 18,
“I was pretty disappointed with myself for not birdieing 16 there and followed it up with a very poor drive on 17, but then had a good number,” said du Toit.
“My caddie gave me a good yardage. I just had to hit a good shot, came out just how I wanted. I didn’t even know it went in, just somebody yelled by the green and said, `Yeah, it’s in,’” he said.
“Yeah, it was awesome,” he said of that eight iron shot.
“I think I’ll just get a good night’s rest. I don’t think I tee off until, like 2:30 (Friday), shouldn’t have no sleep as an excuse,” he said.
Tied for 11th is two-time Canadian mid-amateur champion Garrett Rank. Playing alongside du Toit on Thursday, Rank was one over after a double bogey on six and birdie at nine.
Like du Toit, his fortune changed on the last few holes, where Rank had birdies on 15 and 16 and concluded with an eagle on 18 for a three-under 69.
“I was a little uptight at the beginning, but Jared was playing well and I just kind told myself, `Hey, played a lot of golf with him and there’s birdies to be made.’” said Rank, who doubles as an NHL referee in the winter.
“I just stayed really patient and closed strong and was four under on the last four. I gave myself a lot of looks on the back nine. I’m really pleased with today and got a lot out of it,” he added.
“I told my brother (Wednesday) night, there’s tees and there’s pins and holes on this golf course and there’s nothing different. Maybe there’s more people watching and the conditions were a little tougher, but I’ll just keep telling myself that and just stay patient,” said Rank.
With the amateurs leading the way, Adam Hadwin topped the pros at even par, while David Hearn shot a two-over 74.
For all the scores, click here.