Kruger feels his time has finally come after magical day at the course

2013-11-22 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Instead of digging in a suitcase and calling a taxi from a hotel room, Jbé Kruger yesterday woke in his own room, selected a shocking pink shirt from his own cupboard and then drove in his own car to start his campaign at the South African Open at the Glendower golf course.

Last night, he got back into his own bed after a magical day in which he hit five birdies over the last seven holes for a round of 65 (seven under par), which placed him one putt behind first-placed Matthew Nixon from England.

Kruger shares second place with Italian Marco Crespi.

The 27-year-old Johannesburger, who has since March lived on the Serengeti golf estate, ascribed his good round yesterday to an obedient putter and a lot of luck.

Kruger twice hit his ball into the trees, but each time emerged unscathed. At the 13th he even managed to hit the second of four consecutive birdies.

Kruger started well with a birdie at the first and gave a sigh of relief after the second in which he had ended in the water with his approach.

He then hit an eagle on the eighth, after a perfect approach, but the real fireworks started between the 12th and 15th holes, which saw him hit four consecutive birdies.

“It was been quite a while since I’ve played this well, and especially set so well,” Kruger said yesterday. “At the end, I could not ask for a better start. It was lovely to wake up in my own bed, to drive in my own car to the course and to be supported by my own fans.”

Two years ago Kruger was also among the leaders after the first round in the SA Open, but he then ended 25th. This time round, he said yesterday, he is a totally different player.

“I am definitely a lot more mature — I focus more and have learned to stay in the moment. It was not my time two years ago, but maybe it is now.”

Kruger’s performance stole the show from his better-known compatriots, Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel, who are both among the top six.

Goosen is in a shared fourth place with Cape Town player Christiaan Basson on 66 (-6), including seven birdies.

Schwartzel played a faultless 67 and said he was happy to have executed his game plan to the letter.

He is even happier to share the sixth place with his younger brother Attie, who hit seven birdies yesterday.

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