Kruger cruises to maiden European Tour title

Rakesh Rao
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Golf / Shamim best among the Indians

Winning smile:South Africa's Jbe Kruger got it right when it mattered for a two-stroke victory.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Winning smile:South Africa's Jbe Kruger got it right when it mattered for a two-stroke victory.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Excitement was at a premium in the final round of the €1.8-million Avantha Masters golf as overnight leader Jbe Kruger got it right when it mattered for a two-stroke victory at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Sunday.

Kruger never trailed through his card of three-under 69 and posted a winning tally of 14-under 274. In fact, Kruger and the 2010 champion Australia's Andrew Dodt posted similar winning scores for their maiden titles on the European Tour.

Playing his 38th European Tour event, the 25-year-old South African collected the glittering winner's trophy and €300,000 — the biggest of his five-season old professional career.

In the second spot were Spain's Jorge Campillo and German Marcel Siem. Campillo shot the day's joint-best 67 while Siem fancied his chances till the final hole where he found the bunker for a par and settled for a 70.

Two-time winner on the Tour Jose Manuel Lara and Marcus Fraser were fourth at 11-under.

Lara, who shared the lead after taking the turn at 32, bogeyed the final hole after finding water to slip for one last time.

Shamim Khan turned out to be the best Indian on view after taking the 22nd spot, following a 71 for a tally of five-under 283.

Cruise mode

With a three-shot lead and two holes to play, Kruger was on the cruise mode. But a misdirected drive, that flew about 19 yards off the fairway on the 17th hole, led to this first bogey for 46 holes and sliced his lead by a stroke.

On the final hole, nerves seemed to bother Kruger. His wayward tee-shot struck a camera. He then hooked his second shot and landed close to a tree.

It was at this stage that Kruger produced the shot that separated him from the rest. Needing to hit over the water to be on the green, Kruger struck the approach shot well and landed within 10 feet of the flag. He struck the birdie-putt a little hard but made no mistake with the short par-putt to seal his third title of his professional career.

“It's a big relief now that I've won but I think I needed all those second-place finishes to be able to appreciate this,” said the champion who has a history of finishing second best.

Whiteford disqualified

Scotland's Peter Whiteford, leader until 52 holes, was disqualified this morning. A stroke behind the leader after three rounds and standing on the fourth tee, Whiteford was eyeing his first European Tour title when Chief Referee John Paramor informed him of his disqualification.

The disqualification followed an incident on the 18th fairway during the third round.

The alert television viewers of the event had noticed that Whiteford's ball moved fractionally after he had addressed it and informed the Tour authorities.

Having already signed for an incorrect score, Whiteford was disqualified.

The scores: Jbe Kruger (RSA) (70, 69, 66, 69) 274; Jorge Campillo (Esp) (72, 71, 66, 67), Marcel Siem (Ger) (69, 69, 68, 70) 276; Marcus Fraser (Aus) (69, 69, 69, 70), Jose Manuel Lara (Esp) (74, 69, 64, 70) 277;

Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) (71, 67, 70, 70), Tano Goya (Arg) (74, 70, 64, 70), Prom Meesawat (Tha) (72, 64, 71, 71) and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) (68, 69, 69, 72) 278.

Indians (with placings): 22. Shamim Khan (70, 68, 74, 71) 283; Tied 23. Anirban Lahiri (69, 69, 72, 74) 284; T29. Vijay Kumar (72, 69, 71, 73) 285; T35. Shiv Kapur (71, 70, 71, 74) 286; T41. Gaurav Pratap Singh (72, 72, 74, 69) 287; T48. S. S. P. Chowrasia (71, 72, 75, 70), Jeev Milkha Singh (69, 72, 75, 72) 288; T54. Himmat Rai (68, 72, 79, 72), Manav Jaini (73, 70, 75, 73) 291; T62. Sanjay Kumar (73, 70, 78, 73), Mukesh Kumar (71, 72, 75, 76) and T65. Vivek Bhandari (69, 72, 75, 80) 296.

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