Riggers scoring sensation tees off

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Standing 40 feet away from where he started something heretofore known as The Putt, Kaleb Toth calmly raised his arms as his ball dropped into the hole.

"OK, I'm done," beamed the Calgary Roughnecks pillar, walking towards the power cart with a noticeable swagger. "See you boys in the clubhouse."

Kicking off the day with an eagle on Heritage Pointe's 518-yard opening hole on the Heritage nine, Toth was quick to point out he'd just broken new ground and had no intentions of sticking around to ruin it.

"Not only is that my first eagle, it's the first time I've ever been in the red," chuckled the 30-year-old lacrosse star who has played golf off and on since his early teens.

"All I'm going to do is ruin it from here, so I might as well pack it in."

A stop at the beverage cart 50 yards away did the trick to change his tune, and -- as he predicted -- the opening brilliance faded fast. Following it up with a couple of doubles (bogeys and drinks), the 15-handicapper wasn't fazed at all by a round that had its fair share of struggles, especially from 100 yards in.

"I started playing at age 14 and was real good back then when I was a really good athlete, too," laughed Toth, who rarely takes anything serious on the course. "Then I stopped playing for a bunch of years, as hockey and lacrosse took over my life.

"I was too busy training to make the NHL ... and that really worked out," he added sarcastically.

Things haven't worked out too bad for the former Western Hockey League star and current Calgary sports celeb.

A solid scorer with the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders and the Moose Jaw Warriors, Toth landed himself invites to free agent camps with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Phoenix Coyotes after scoring 14 goals in 21 games down the stretch of the 1997-98 season with the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes.

However, after a year in the East Coast Hockey League, Toth was drafted second overall by the Toronto Rock, prompting him to shift gears to a sport that has seen him win two championships, including one in front of a sold-out crowd in hometown Calgary in 2004.

Prior to that, the highlight of his career came in 2000 when he scored the winning goal for the Rock in the final with one second left on the clock. It was the last goal ever scored of any kind at Maple Leaf Gardens.

But on this day, his claim to fame is the opening eagle.

"I'm not good enough to take it seriously, but it's a great way to get out with the guys, enjoy the sun and drink some beers," said Toth of a sport he plays largely under the parameters of charity tourneys where his big drives are a hit. "I can still hit the ball a long way off the tee ... and I make the odd putt."

It was one of the many playful eagle reminders his playing partners received on the day.

As limited as his time is for the game these days, (Toth currently plays fewer than 10 rounds a year), he is about to see his round count dwindle as he and his wife are expecting their first child at the end of August.

"So much for those charity tournaments," shrugged Toth.

Wrapping up an entertaining round of non-stop ribbing, Toth's 89 has him smiling, if only because of his starting heroics.

With plans to play another five years of pro lacrosse -- "hopefully with Calgary," he adds -- Toth anticipates playing more golf when he retires from the game that made him a local personality.

That's not just so he has an excuse to get out with the boys and lay down some smack, but also so he can regale everyone with tales of The Putt.

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KALEB TOTH

ROUGHNECKS FORWARD

Handicap: 15

Best score: 79

Years played: 16

Average rounds per year: 8

In his bag: Titleist irons, Big Betha driver

Favourite course: Pebble Beach, Calif.

Golf highlight: Eagle to open round while Teeing Off With Eric Francis at Heritage Pointe.

When the beer cart pulls up, "I'll have a: Molson Canadian and a shot of Jack Daniels."

Golf wisdom: "If you're not cheating, you're not trying."


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