Jared du Toit says he has no idea how he will approach the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey on Sunday, but the main thing is that he just keep doing what he’s doing.
Whatever that is that he’s doing.
The 21-year old amateur from Calgary is living the dream of possibly becoming the unlikely guy to end that nasty streak of national championships without a Canadian winner that stretches back to 1954.
“I have no idea. I’ve never been there, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never kind of been in this kind of pressure, this atmosphere before. I’m here having fun and trying to go and play golf. It hasn’t set in so far, but loving every minute of it,” said du Toit.
Canadian fans are loving him too, not unlike their reaction to David Hearn a year ago when he was in contention before finishing third. The difference is that Hearn was recognizable to fans when the tournament got underway, but du Toit is an unlikely hero, although his play over the first three rounds tells a different story.
He came into Saturday’s third round just one off the lead and at times looked like he might understandably falter, putting up three bogeys against two birdies to make the turn at one over.
Yet, as he did on Friday after a triple bogey, he found a way to dig himself out, first putting up a birdie on 13, then putting an exclamation mark on his day by sinking a 40-foot eagle putt on 18 to give him an 70.
“It looked like I actually hit it a little too hard, but dead centre and you know, I was pretty fired up about it,” said du Toit.
“I followed it in the hole and knew it had a chance, but when it disappeared, that’s the biggest putt of my career so far,” he said.
Just like that, he’s in the final group on Sunday at Glen Abbey with a former champion in Brandt Snedeker, who also eagled 18 on Saturday to finish with a 66 for the one-shot lead.
“It’s truly been a dream so far, and seeing that putt go in, was just a great cherry on top to the round,” said du Toit.
“I’m honestly just out here to have some fun and enjoy the atmosphere. Obviously, I want to play well (Sunday), but it’s kind of my first go at it. Win or lose, I’m happy with the way this week’s gone,” he added.
He should be. As mentioned before, he hasn’t faltered even when it looked as if he might. He’s connected well with his caddie, Sean Burke, who seems to understand him out on the fairways where conditions, particularly the wind, change quickly in the heat wave hitting the Abbey and surrounding area.
“Day-to-day it’s changed. Even since the practice round to the first round, significant change. You’ve got to change your mindset a lot. My caddie and I have done a great job of doing that,” said du Toit.
“Just the atmosphere, walking to each green, walking to each tee box, `Go, Canada,’ It’s been an unbelievable week of golf so far,’ he said.
“The putter has been hot all week and I’ve been chipping it nicely. Honestly, my ball-striking wasn’t there today, but I fought through and ground out pretty hard,” said du Toit, who expected his mind to be in the game overnight.
“Definitely, a long night. I’m already expecting that right now, so you know, like I said, take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Win or lose, I’m happy I’m here,” he said.
“It’s been a fairy tale so far. Hopefully I can keep it going,” he said.
Snedeker, who won at Glen Abbey in 2013, is looking forward to the experience.
“I think I’m going to be the most hated man in Canada tomorrow,” joked Snedeker.
“He’s great. For a 21-year-old kid, to be playing golf here is awesome, let alone to do it in your national open. I mean, I can’t imagine the nerves this kid has to be playing as great of golf as he has,” he added.
“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m looking forward to playing with him and I’m going to do everything I can to help him have a great day tomorrow. I want him to have a great experience tomorrow and really enjoy it,” he said.
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