Emotional Kruger powers ahead at Hong Kong Open

Hong Kong December 6: South Africa’s Jbe Kruger made it a fitting tribute to the passing of Nelson Mandela by storming ahead to take the second round lead with a four-under-par 66 at the US$1.3 million Hong Kong Open on Friday.

As the only South African in the strong field where over 30 Asian Tour champions have gathered at the Hong Kong Golf Club, Kruger broke clear of the chasing pack during an extraordinary homerun where he made six birdies in seven holes to sign for a two-day total of seven-under-par 133.

Wales’ Stuart Manley carded another matching 67 to take second place on 134 while Asian Tour winners Shiv Kapur of India and Australia’s Wade Ormsby are tied for third alongside Germany’s Alex Cejka.

There was little sign to show for what is to come for Kruger when he reached the turn in 36 following three bogeys and one birdie.

After making a par on the par-four 10th, the 27-year-old then stormed ahead by making six birdies on holes 11,12,13,14,16 and 17.

Kruger expressed his sadness at the death of Mandela, a revered icon long regarded as the father of his nation.

“Our country lost a real-life hero,” said Kruger of Mandela who led the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and was one of the towering political figures of the 20th century.

Turning his attention to his challenge at the storied Hong Kong Open, Kruger was delighted to rediscover his good form after having only a tied-fifth finish in Chiangmai this year to show for since winning his maiden Asian Tour title in India in 2012.

“I played well, I probably swung it the best I’ve swung it in a long time. I’m excited and I’m playing better for a change,” said Kruger.

Playing on a sponsor’s invite, Cejka made the most of his invitation by charging ahead to grab the clubhouse lead with his 67 in the morning.

“It’s a good feeling.  I had a couple months off now, so it’s nice to come back and grind it out,” said Cejka.

“It was a little bit tricky with the wind today but I still managed to hit much better shots. I made some bad club choices, but you know what, when I see myself up there on the leaderboard, I’ll take it no matter what,” said the German.

Kapur, who is currently in eighth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, knows he needs a good result to break into Team Asia when the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM tees off in Malaysia next year.

Team Asia will include the leading four available Asian players from the final 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit, the leading three available Asian players invited on the basis of their Official World Golf Ranking, the playing captain and two captain’s picks.

Kapur’s last win on the region’s premier Tour came in Thailand in 2005 but the 31-year-old is confident of making his return to the winner’s circle this week.

“It’s a bunched up leaderboard and it’s going to be anybody’s game come the weekend so I know I’ve to keep doing what I’m doing.  If I can play the way I have and shoot 66 or better on the weekend, then I’ll be in pretty good position,” said Kapur.

Kapur also believes he has come a long way since turning professional in 2004 and is hopeful of showing the galleries at the Hong Kong Golf Club his progress since making a stunning entry into the professional game when he won his maiden Asian Tour title in his rookie year.

“I like to think I am, but obviously, you know, you’re only as good as the results you post.  So it just depends on how I go and how I play, and you’re only judged by the scores you shoot,” said Kapur.

“I’m feeling pretty good about my game.  I just need to sort of keep doing the things that I’m doing and hopefully the results will follow,” added Kapur.

The Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association and is the third event of The 2014 Race to Dubai, and one of the last on the 2013 Asian Tour schedule.

Leading scores after round 2 of the Hong Kong Open Championship 2013 being played at the par 70, 6699 Yards Hong Kong Golf Club course (a- denotes amateur):

133 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 67-66.

134 – Stuart MANLEY (WAL) 67-67.

135 – Alex CEJKA (GER) 68-67, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 67-68, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 69-66.

136 – Espen KOFSTAD (NOR) 68-68, Angelo QUE (PHI) 69-67, Robert-Jan DERKSEN (NED) 69-67, Chris DOAK (SCO) 68-68, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 66-70, Andrew DODT (AUS) 66-70, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 68-68, Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 69-67.

137 – Unho PARK (AUS) 71-66, Daniel IM (USA) 71-66, Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP) 70-67, David LIPSKY (USA) 69-68, Andrea PAVAN (ITA) 65-72, Jose Manuel LARA (ESP) 69-68, Roope KAKKO (FIN) 71-66, Richard FINCH (ENG) 70-67, Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 69-68, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 68-69, Steve WEBSTER (ENG) 71-66, S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND) 68-69, Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN) 70-67.

Selected scores

138 – LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 66-72, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 68-70

+1 (141) was the final cut, 75 players made the cut



About the Asian Tour

In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Subway (Official Quick Service Restaurant), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.