Kruger Shares Halfway Lead

Fri 13 Apr 2012

Kruger Shares Halfway Lead

Kuala Lumpur, April 13: There was no Friday the 13th jitters for Jbe Kruger of South Africa as he charged into the share of the early halfway lead with a sizzling seven-under-par 65 at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

Kruger fired eight birdies against one bogey to tie with countryman Hennie Otto on nine-under-par 135 on a sun-kissed day at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Rookie David Lipsky of the United States, who finished second at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic last week, continued his solid form to tie with Major winner Martin Kaymer (67) of Germany in third place at the US$2.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Kruger, who made 27 putts today, is hoping to get his irons hot as he aims to win his second Asian Tour victory in the span of three months.

“My game is a little bit better. I’ve been working on a lot of things and it seems to be coming together which is always a good sign. I just worked a bit on my swing which is not really a 100% yet. My ball striking used to be my strength and now it is my weakness,” said Kruger, winner of the Avantha Masters in India in February.

He was delighted to be in contention with a stellar cast of South Africans gathered at the Maybank Malaysian Open including overnight leader Charl Schwartzel, who tees off in the afternoon and Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen.

“The mind-set will be the same as today. I’m going to hit it one shot at a time and try and get my swing at a 100% and see what happens.I won’t really call it giving Charl and Louis a run for their money, I just finished awesomely and it is a start. It is just fun to be in contention, it doesn’t matter if it is with Charl or Louis,” added the slightly built Kruger.

Otto, a two-time European Tour champion, did not play a practice round earlier in the week but was rewarded with a flawless round highlighted by eight birdies.

“I played the course blind yesterday because I was first reserve for the pro-am and was expecting to get into that and use it as my practice round but it didn’t happen. I walked the course on Wednesday so had an idea but it is obviously a lot different when you come to play it,” said the 35-year-old.

“I have been playing well recently and we are taking small steps and gradually getting there. Most of the work that I have been doing is really on the mental side as opposed to the technical side of things and I am sticking with and trying to build on that momentum,” he added.

Lipsky, winner of the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic last month, continued his Asian sojourn with a solid 65 where he chipped-in from 75 yards for an eagle three on the third hole.

He said he is living his childhood dream of playing with the best players in the region and in Europe.

“You don’t always get the opportunity to play with these players. I played with Branden Grace and Simon Dyson, both are premier players on the European Tour. It is great to also be competing against Oosthuizen and Schwartzel. It is everything I dreamt of as a little kid to be competing against the best in the world. I’m loving this opportunity,” said Lipsky.