Kruger leads tight field

2012-02-18 14:39

Gurgaon - Jbe Kruger of South Africa shot two eagles in a flawless third round to jump to a one-stroke lead in the $2.4 million Avantha Masters in Gurgaon on Saturday.

Kruger's 66 left him 11-under for the tournament, one ahead of the trio of Peter Whiteford of Scotland, Germany's Marcel Siem and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet.

Just three shots separate the top 15, promising high drama in Sunday's final round at the par-72 DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of New Delhi.

Jose Manuel Lara of Spain, who shared the day's best score of eight-under 64 with Argentine Tano Goya, was among six players two strokes behind the leader, while five others were just three strokes away.

Kruger's first eagle came at the par-five, when he holed a 20-foot putt and then repeated the feat at the 15th, holing a putt from the top of the green.

A bogey-free round gave the 25-year-old South African a good chance to secure his maiden European Tour title.

"I'm going to try and play how I played today(Saturday)," Kruger said of the final round. "If it's meant to be my week, it'll be mine, so I don't want to think too far ahead yet.

"The putts need to go in and I think that's what defines the winner. I've been reading the greens a little better. I'm improving and am a lot more experienced. That will give me the edge."

Whiteford, who led after the first two rounds at 10-under, returned a par score after bogeys on the sixth and 17th which cost him the outright lead.

"I'm raging," the 31-year-old Scot said. "I've let everyone back in it with that score. If I had managed a three or four-under, I would have had a good lead."

Siem fought back after double-bogeys at the first two holes to finish the round at four-under par 68, while Gonnet recovered from four bogeys in his first 12 holes to fire five birdies in the last six.

Lara, 34, put himself into contention with nine birdies in 14 holes following a bogey at the third.

"After the bogey at the third, I played more aggressively and it worked," said the Spaniard, a two-time winner on the European Tour.

"I played very well from tee to green and my putter was very good today(Saurday). To have so many birdies is pleasing, but the main thing is that my putting was really good."

India's richest golf event has been tri-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours and the Professional Golf Tour of India.

Third-round leaders in the Avantha Masters at the par-72 DLF Golf and Country Club:

205 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70-69-66

206 - Marcel Siem (GER) 69-69-68, Peter Whiteford (SCO) 66-68-72, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA) 68-69-69

207 - Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 74-69-64, Andrea Pavan (ITA) 69-71-67, Paul McGinley (IRL) 70-69-68, Marc Warren (SCO) 72-67-68, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 69-69-69, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-64-71

208 - Tano Goya (ARG) 74-70-64, Rhys Davies (WAL) 70-69-69, Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 66-73-69, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 71-67-70, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 70-67-71

Selected scores:

210 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 72-72-66, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 69-69-72

211 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-70-73, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 68-69-74