Kempton Park - Jbe' Kruger goes into the Tour Championship at Serengeti
Estates which tees off on Thursday with the memory of a tournament-winning shot
fresh in his mind.
one of 42 players from the top 50 of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit who will
be battling it out over 72 holes for the winner's share of the R1.5-million
purse, and he knows that he sealed the deal last time he played a tournament on
his home course.
the shot I played to win here last year quite clearly," he said. "It was just
one of those where you've got the perfect club for the perfect distance, and
I've hit that shot a million times around here."
He hit a
nine-iron approach shot on 18 from 162 meters to within two feet of the flag to
make birdie and win the Sun Carnival City Challenge by a single shot from Neil
Schietekat and JJ Senekal, both of whom are in this week's field.
"On the last
hole, I knew I had to make the birdie," Kruger said of that approach shot on
"I hit my best shot of the day, it came out perfectly. My approach game has
been a strength throughout my career, and that's why I think I've been
He will be
up against a strong field, as is inevitably the case when it is made up of
players who have had to qualify to get into the tournament. Chief among his
opposition will be the likes of JC Ritchie, Ockie Strydom and Oliver Bekker,
the three highest-placed players on the Order of Merit. A win for any of those
three would be a fitting coda to their fine seasons.
is someone like Hennie Otto, the 2011 SA Open champion on the Serengeti course.
He has emerged from a long period of recovery from injury, and, on his day, is
capable of going very low.
Kruger, there are 13 other players who won during the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour
season, which indicates just how strong the field is, and just what odds Kruger
will have to overcome should he win the tournament.
home-course advantage, however, makes him a tough nut to crack.
that it's hosted by my home course," he said. "Everything about your game has
to be on here. When Jack Nicklaus designed this place, he made sure all aspects
of your game would be tested. The fairways are actually quite generous, but
with the greens being so undulating, you have to hit the right club.
approach it one shot at a time, even though it's my home course. Everyone's
expecting me to play well. My game's not been great lately. It's probably been
my worst start to a year in 11 years as a professional.
play well before I won here last year, just like now. But that week
specifically, I hit it well. I drove it well, and if you drive it well, you
make this course a lot shorter. Because I know the place so well, I'm playing
in a comfort zone."