The outcome was never in question. Jared du Toit was in complete control from start to finish.
du Toit fired a six-under 66 during the final round of play at the NCAA’s 2015 Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship, en route to an eight-under tournament total, claiming the individual title and pacing his University of Idaho Vandals to the overall team championship at Greenhorn Creek Golf Resort in Angels Camp, Calif., Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s awesome,” du Toit said over the phone from California Wednesday afternoon. “We set that as our goal at the start of the year. It’s nice to finally get it done.”
The Vandals sophomore and former Selkirk Secondary School student from Kimberley let the field know of his intent to claim the championship on the 511-yard, par-five ninth hole as he slammed home an eagle to pencil in a four-under front nine.
“I actually got pretty lucky there,” du Toit said. “My first drive was cutting it pretty close to going out of bounds, I think. I don’t know what it hit, but it definitely stopped up pretty quick. I hit a really good shot onto the green and rolled in probably my best putt of the tournament, which couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Apart from a double bogey on the 456-yard, par-four 14th hole, the back nine didn’t get in du Toit’s way as he steamrolled to the title with four more birdies and a two-under 34.
du Toit got better and better as the Big Sky championship wore on.
Opening the event with a one-over 73, the Kimberley native took sole possession of first place after a three-under 69 and didn’t look back, carding a six-under 66 on the final day.
“A lot of things went my way [Wednesday], which was nice,” du Toit said. “I took advantage of the opportunities I had and kept most of the blood off the card.”
His Vandals crew did just the same, wrapping the tournament with a combined eight-under 856 to finish 21 strokes ahead of second-place Sacramento State.
Adding to Idaho’s dominance was the presence of three Vandals in the top three.
Senior Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., finished a solo second behind du Toit after carding a three-under score for the tournament.
Freshman Daniel Sutton of Birmingham, England, landed in a two-way tie for third place with an even-par score after 54 holes.
Junior Rylee Iacolucci of Cle Elum, Wash., snuck into a two-way tie for ninth at five-over and sophomore Ryan Porch of Kalispell, Mont., finished in a tie for 16th at 11-over.
The individual tournament victory is the second of the NCAA season for du Toit. He won his first tournament at the University of Wyoming Southern back in October 2014.
In addition to tournament accolades, du Toit was named Big Sky Men’s Golfer of the Week four times through the season (Sept. 17, Oct. 8, Nov. 6 and Feb. 25).
It has been a banner year for the Kimberley product, who finds himself ranked fourth on the Canadian men’s amateur golf charts as of April 23.
du Toit was one of four Canadians competing for the 2015 Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Championship. Cockerill, as well as Jack Sedgewick (Newmarket, Ont.) and Sameer Kalia (Campbellville, Ont.), both of Binghamton University, rounded out the Canadian contingent.
Kalia finished the tournament in a tie for 19th at 13-over, while Sedgewick came into the clubhouse at 30-over and in 40th place.
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.
From here, du Toit and the Vandals head to an NCAA Regional Tournament slated for May 14 to 16. The location is still to be determined and will be announced on the Golf Channel Monday, May 4.
“We’re definitely going to have to step it up a bit,” du Toit said, looking forward to the regional tourney. “The competition is a lot steeper at an event like that.”
The teams that advance from each respective regional tournament will compete for the 2015 NCAA Golf Championship at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., approximately 90 km south of Tampa.
The 2015 NCAA Golf Championship is set to be hosted by the University of South Florida from May 29 to June 3.