Jared du Toit first rose to prominence in Canada at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey (Oakville, Ont.) in 2016 when, as a 21-year-old amateur, he played in Sunday’s final group alongside veteran Brandt Snedeker.
When Jared du Toit tees off in Thursday’s first round of the Freedom 55 Financial Open at Point Grey Golf Club it will mark his 365th day as a professional golfer.
The Arizona State University grad turned pro on June 1, 2017, just in time to play in the second stop of the Mackenzie Tour’s B.C. Swing at Uplands Golf Course in Victoria. Du Toit, who turned 23 last week, made the cut in his first pro event and earned a $1,162 cheque for finishing in a tie for 29th.
The Calgary native, who was raised in Kimberley, B.C., finished 23rd on the Mackenzie Tour money list with three top-10 finishes and earnings of $26,233.
He first rose to prominence in Canada at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey (Oakville, Ont.) in 2016 when, as a 21-year-old amateur, he played in Sunday’s final group alongside veteran Brandt Snedeker. His final-round 71 left him three strokes back of winner Jhonattan Vegas and in a tie for ninth place.
He talked to Postmedia News from Oceanside, Calif., where he was about to attend a fitting session at Titleist headquarters.
Q: You are approaching the one-year anniversary of turning professional. What has the learning curve been like for you?
A: I feel like I have learned a ton in a short period of time. A lot of little things, like how to travel. I went down and played the Latin America tour — I had six events down there just recently. I never really understood the importance of booking the right travel and knowing how to prepare yourself with that in mind. I was down in Argentina and it’s pretty far down there, it takes your body a while to get adjusted. I made sure I was a day or two earlier than a lot of guys might go down. I needed that time to let my body adjust to the time zone, etc. That’s just one example of things that you might not consider but which I feel are really important.
Q: You made three cuts in six events on the Latin American tour, are you happy with your progress?
A: Honestly, not really. I went down there expecting to play much better. I think it was a combination of a couple of things, but at the end of the day I just didn’t play well enough. Obviously, I saw those courses for the first time, whereas in Canada last year (on the Mackenzie Tour) I had played a handful of those courses already. I knew people who knew the courses and that gave me a bit of an advantage when it came to preparation. Going down there and playing those courses for the first time and getting thrown right into competition, with the different grasses and the different elevations etc., was tough. But if you don’t get the ball in the hole you aren’t going to be happy and that was the case for me.
Q: What is the strength of your game right now on the eve of the start of the Mackenzie Tour?
A: For basically my whole career iron play has been my strength. I’m not terrible at anything and I don’t do anything really great, I just have a really well-rounded game. But I’d say my iron play and my wedge play is the best part of my game.
Q: It’s all about giving yourself a good chance to make birdie isn’t it?
A: If you keep the ball in play off the tee you are never going to be in too much trouble as long as you have good iron play. That’s my theory.
Q: Conversely, is there a facet of your game that you want to improve on more than others?
A: I think from a consistency standpoint it would be putting. I’ve shot some low rounds in the past where you look at the hole and it’s the size of a basketball hoop and you just make everything. But I’ve had other days where it’s a lot smaller. I want to figure out how to make the hole look the same every day. Who knows, that could be a never-ending battle but I think that’s an area I’d like to improve on. My scores would definitely be more consistent if I could improve on that.
Q: Some might say that putting is the most important part of any professional’s game. Do you agree?
A: I actually think the opposite. The best players, the guys who are doing the best every week, are usually the best ball strikers. It seems like the guys who win each week tend to have the best putting weeks because that’s what you see on TV, guys making the big putts. … For the most part the greens are so good on the PGA Tour and on the pro level that if you hit the green (in regulation) you probably aren’t going to make bogey. It’s pretty easy to two putt on really good greens for the most part. It’s more about avoiding trouble and good ball striking is the key to that.
Q: You turned pro a week after last year’s event at Point Grey. Not having seen the course before what will your preparation be like this week?
A: I am going to try to come in a little early, and luckily I’m staying with a buddy of mine, Stuart Macdonald (currently on the Web.com Tour), who is a member there. He may not be in town but his parents are both members there and I’m staying with them. Hopefully they can walk me through the course. … A lot of my friends that I’ve known for years have played it so I’ll be asking them about it, and hopefully the Macdonalds will share their local knowledge.
Q: It’s rapid fire time. Let’s start with your favourite golf course. Is there one that really sticks out for you?
A: Yeah, in college we played an event at a course called Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, California. It was an outstanding golf course. That was one where I remember saying to my fellow competitors ‘man, I could play this course every day and never get sick of it.’ That’s probably my favourite, it’s a timeless design and a lot of fun to play.
Q: Is there a course you haven’t played yet that would be on your bucket list?
A: Probably the Old Course at St. Andrews. I haven’t had the chance to go over there and experience links golf so that stands out.
Q: Do you have a favourite pro golfer? Past or present?
A: Past or present? Hmmm, I haven’t really been asked that in a while. I’m not sure.
Q: Aren’t you supposed to say Jon Rahm (No. 4 in the world with five career pro victories), your college roommate at Arizona State?
A: Yeah, let’s go with that. I really like his game. He’s got everything going for him, he’s got all the tools and he’s got the mind that believes it all. I’d go with Jon.
Q: How good can he be?
A: You’ve seen what he has done in just over a year of being professional, it’s not a fluke. He’s the definition of a gamer, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing he wants to win everything he does. And you can see that on the golf course. With that mentality, the mindset that he has combined with the physical ability it is a recipe for long-term success. I think he’s going to be out there forever.
Q: The Mackenzie Tour starts next week, what goals have you set for yourself going into this season?
A: I want to improve on what I did last year (23rd on the money list). To win the money list is the No. 1 goal but I would be happy with my performance if I could finish inside the top 10. There are a lot of good things that come with being inside the top 10, including getting to the final stage of Web.com Q-school which gets you conditional status at the very least.
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