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Trio share overnight lead at Staal Foundation Open

Jared du Toit, Lorens Chan and Jonathan Garrick tied atop the leaderboard, with 78 players yet to complete their second round.

THUNDER BAY – A year ago Jared du Toit was the talk of the Canadian golfing world.

An amateur out of Arizona State, the Kimberley, B.C. native fired a 5-under 67 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, held his ground throughout the weekend and wound up tied for ninth at the country’s national golf championship.

He’s kept his hot hand going in 2017.

Starting the season with conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada, he’s made four cuts in four events, including this week’s Staal Foundation Open at Whitewater Golf Club, and shares the overnight lead heading into Saturday with Americans Lorens Chan and Jonathan Garrick.

Garrick has 11 holes left to play, the second round suspended at 9 p.m. because of darkness, 78 players forced to return on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to complete their rounds.

“It definitely felt good. I kept the card pretty clean all day, which was great,” said du Toit, who played 35 holes on Day 2.

“The morning came around and it was super soft, not a lot of wind and I took advantage pretty well. Then in the second round I hung out there pretty well, made the birdies when I had the chance and made pars when I needed to as well. It was good.”

Du Toit posted back-to-back birdies on the front nine of his 2-under 70 second round, countering a pair of bogeys on the back with two more birdies, including one on No. 17.

The long day didn’t bother him one bit, he said.

“When you’re hitting them well all day, you usually are able to continue it all day,” he said.

Chan’s card included a pair of bogeys, but he made up for it with seven birdies en route to a spectacular 5-under 67, dropping a putt on the tough ninth hole to finish tied for the lead.

It was the second lowest completed score posted on the day, behind the 6-under 66s carded by American’s Tee-K Kelly and Evan Bowser, who both started with identical 3-over 75s.

“Today was a long day,” said Chan, who in 2009 was given a sponsor’s exemption into the Sony Open at the tender age of 14.

He’s made just one cut this season, a T34 at the GolfBC Championship, but is in fantastic position heading into moving day at Whitewater.

“I had only hit my first tee shot and they blew the horn yesterday, so I had pretty much 35-and-a-half holes. This was kind of making sure I’d last the whole day, especially since I knew it was going to get hot and humid. That was my biggest focus.”

Several players battled in and out of the lead on Friday. Brett Lederer, who led after 18 holes thanks to a blistering 9-under 63, got it to 11-under early in his second round, but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys on 4 and 5, doubled 10 and slipped out of top spot with another bogey on 18.

A double bogey on 16 cost Canadian Riley Wheeldon, who eagled the par-4 14th, a share of the lead, leaving him tied for eighth.

Americans Lederer, Will McCurdy, Tyler McCumber and Blake Blakefield all sit a shot back of top spot.