Harare - Jbe’ Kruger got his title defence off to a flying start at the Zimbabwe Open on Thursday when he went around Royal Harare Golf Club in eight-under-par 64.
"If you had told me I would shoot 64 when I was on the range today I wouldn’t have believed you.
"This is a place of real miracles for me and you could see it today," he said.
The European Tour winner overcame a bogey at the second hole and went on to make nine birdies during the course of the day, which left him two shots clear of Brazil’s Adilson da Silva.
Christiaan Basson set the pace at five-under-par early in the day after he cruised through his second loop in 31 blows.
"It’s only your own fault if you miss a putt here – the greens are great.
"If you can keep gaining a couple each day and moving in the right direction then you’ll be in with a shout.
"The total is never too low here and it comes down to playing four good rounds," he said.
Kruger took little time in closing down the gap and made four consecutive birdies from the fifth to the eighth. He continued to score and stitched up his 64 with a final gain at the 18th.
"I know most of the people are rooting for me, which is pretty cool.
"You can actually sense it, which is amazing.
"I don’t have expectations, I’m just trying to pull off every shot that I can.
"The putts just went in today and when that happens you can really score," he said.
Da Silva was hot on his heels after carding a flawless 66 at Royal Harare.
The 12-time Sunshine Tour winner carded 33 on either side of the turn to get his campaign off to a flying start.
But in the driver’s seat was Kruger, who won last year on 18-under-par.
The Bloemfontein local was eager to ride the wave for the next three days.
"On these greens specifically, because they are so good, I believe that I just have to hit the green and then I will make the putt.
"You don’t get that feeling very often and you have to go for it," he said.
Scores (RSA unless stated):
64 - Jbe' Kruger
66 - Adilson Da Silva (BRA)
67 - Christiaan Basson, Dean Burmester, JC Ritchie
68 - Stuart Smith (BOT), Mark Williams (ZIM)
69 - Colin Nel, Attie Schwartzel, Jacques Blaauw
70 - Jacques Kruyswijk, Rhys West, Andrew Georgiou, Jacquin Hess, Chris Swanepoel, Ulrich van den Berg, Ruan de Smidt, Daniel Greene, Teboho Sefatsa
71 - Trevor Mahoney, Tonderayi Masunga (ZIM) (AMA), Divan van den Heever, Erik van Rooyen, Lindani Ndwandwe, Justin Turner, Tyron Roelofsz, Andrew McLardy, Shaun Norris, Ryan Cairns (ZIM)
72 - Day Muyambo (ZIM), Thabang Simon, Andrew Curlewis, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Merrick Bremner, Tyrone Ferreira, Michiel Bothma, Danie van Tonder, Doug McGuigan, Michael Hollick, Tyrone Ryan, Rourke van der Spuy, Grant Doverspike (USA), MJ Viljoen, Eddie Taylor, Charl Coetzee, Justin Harding, Alan Michell, Steve Surry (ENG), Peter Karmis, Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM), Makhetha Mazibuko, Jaco Prinsloo
73 - Bryce Bibby, Lyle Rowe, Titch Moore, Tyrone Mordt, Mark Murless, Theunis Spangenberg, PH McIntyre, Maritz Wessels
74 - Anthony Michael, Jake Roos, Callum Mowat, Garth Dale (ZIM) (AMA), Patrick Newcomb (USA), Russel Franz, Drikus Bruyns, Gary Thompson (ZIM), Louis Calitz, Neil Schietekat, Alex Haindl, Heinrich Bruiners, TC Charamba (ZIM), Wynand Dingle, Greg Bentley (ZIM), Omar Sandys
75 - Coert Groenewald, Dongkwan Kim (KOR), Nyasha Muyambo (ZIM), Ockie Strydom, Derik Ferreira, Dale Howie (ZIM), Vaughn Groenewald, Stephen Ferreira (POR), Kieran Vincent (AMA) (ZIM), Bryn Flanagan, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Hennie du Plessis, Dayne Moore (ZAM), Pieter Moolman, Morne Buys
76 - Otto van Greunen, Farayi Chitengwa (ZIM), Matthew Carvell, Desvonde Botes, Clive Nguru (ZIM), Breyten Meyer, Jack Kutumane, Titch Musemburi (ZIM), Stuart Krog (ZIM) (AMA), Derick Petersen, Grant Veenstra, Jaco Ahlers, Kevin Rundle
77 - Lean Boezaart, John Bele, Davison Elijah (ZIM), Robson Saurombe (ZIM), Francesco Laporta (ITA), Michael Scholz, Richard Chitakatira (ZIM), Daniel Hammond, David Amm (ZIM) (AMA), Kevin Stone, Ignatius Mketekete (ZIM), Irvin Mazibuko
78 - Allan Versfeld, Wallie Coetsee, Calvin Caldeira, Brian Gondo (ZIM), Burger Heckroodt, Thanda Mavundla, Langley Perrins, Arthur Horne (SWZ), Bryce Easton, TJ Bekker
79 - JJ Senekal, Ryan Lang (ZIM), Werner van Niekerk, Jared Harvey, Trainos Muradzikwa (ZIM), Dwayne Basson
80 - Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Etienne Bond, Alex Gaugert (USA), Jake Redman, Roy Da Costa (POR), Shaun Smith, Thabo Maseko, Ruan Huysamen (NAM)
81 - Steven Ferreira, Visitor Mapwanya (ZIM) (AMA), Le Roux Ferreira
82 - Mike Maile, Alessandro Grammatica (ITA), Drikus van der Walt, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu (ZIM)
83 - Hama Kamunga (ZIM), Simon Murungweni (ZIM), Phillip Tshuma (ZIM)
84 - Ryan Tipping
85 - Nixon Masunga (ZIM), Thembelani Vundla (ZIM) (AMA)
86 - David du Preez (AMA) (ZIM)
88 - Doctor Maphosa (ZIM) (AMA)
89 - Byran Rocher (ZIM)