OAKVILLE, Ont. – It was only fitting that Jared du Toit took the final shot of the RBC Canadian Open.
Although the amateur from Kimberley, B.C., fell out of contention in the final round of the PGA Tour event, he still got the biggest ovation of the day at the awards ceremony on the 18th green at Glen Abbey Golf Club. Fans gave him a rousing standing ovation when he birdied on the final shot of the tournament and again as he was given the Gary Cowan medal as the Canadian Open’s lowest scoring amateur player.
“It was awesome,” said du Toit of the hundreds of fans that followed him around the course on Sunday. “I probably could have shot a hundred out here and they would have been behind my back all day. Honestly unbelievable.”
Du Toit started the day tied for second and was in the top pairing with leader Brandt Snedeker. The 21-year-old Arizona State University player struggled in the front nine with two bogeys and a birdie before rallying with three birdies and a bogey in the back. Du Toit finished the day a 1-under 71 and tied for ninth at 9 under.
Although it was a solid performance for du Toit, he tumbled down the leaderboard as the PGA Tour’s professionals finally found their rhythm on a hard, firm course that had frustrated most players all week. Still, du Toit finished the week two shots better than world No. 1 Jason Day.
Jhonattan Vegas shot an 8-under 64, birdieing the final three holes, to rocket up the leaderboard and earn a one-stroke victory. The 29-year-old Venezuelan began the day five strokes behind Snedeker, and four behind du Toit and U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.
Vegas earned US$1,062,000 and a spot in the PGA Championship next week at Baltusrol in New Jersey. He also received a two-year tour exemption and a spot in the Masters next year.
Du Toit, who only had 15 fans following his trio in Thursday’s opening round, had nothing but praise for the Canadian fans who rallied to support him after 5-under 67 in the first round thrust him to the top of the standings.
“Unbelievable. The atmosphere they were providing was unbelievable,” said du Toit, who added that he lost count of how many high fives he doled out on Sunday, but that there were enough to make his hands sore. “Every tee box, every green, everyone was clapping, hollering, ‘Go Canada!’
“It was truly unbelievable. I’m on cloud nine right now.”
Making his breakout performance even more impressive, Du Toit learned on Saturday night that he had bronchitis after what he initially thought was a cold grew worse over the past seven days. Coach Derek Ingram drove du Toit to nearby Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and the young player only got five hours of sleep ahead of Sunday’s final round.
“We’re going to take care of this bronchitis a little bit, probably hold off the celebration a little more,” said du Toit. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
Ingram, who was named the head coach of Canada’s men’s golf team earlier in the month, wasn’t surprised by du Toit’s performance.
“Jared’s been playing great, he’s been trending really well for the past six months,” said Ingram. “He’s been playing great, a bit of a surprise to be in the final group of the Canadian Open as an amateur, but not surprised that he played well at all.”
Adam Hadwin (71) of Abbotsford, B.C., tied for 49th at 1 under, amateur Garrett Rank (76) of Elmira, Ont., was in a group tied at 77th 8 over and Corey Conners (78) of Listowel, Ont., finished at 12 over in 80th.
Hadwin won the Rivermead Cup as low professional Canadian, but even then he didn’t feel wholly comfortable taking the award from du Toit.
“Little awkward holding this with Jared playing so well this week, y’know, he beat me by eight,” said Hadwin during the awards ceremony. “Not sure I should be holding this, but I’ll accept it.”
A Canadian hasn’t won the national golf championship since 1954, when Pat Fletcher accomplished the feat at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf Club. An amateur hasn’t won the Canadian Open since American Doug Sanders at Montreal’s Beaconsfield Golf Club in 1956.
— Golf Canada (@TheGolfCanada) July 24, 2016