South African Kruger Profits at Korean ‘Home Away From Home’

Jbe Kruger returned to winning ways on the Asian Tour.

Incheon, Korea: Jbe Kruger ended a seven-year title drought on the Asian Tour by signing off with a six-under-par 65 to win The 35th Shinhan Donghae Open by two shots.

The diminutive South African had not won an Asian Tour title since he triumphed in India in 2012.

However, he showed he was ready to make his comeback to the winner’s circle with a commanding performance where he did not drop a shot in his last 37 holes at the Bear’s Best Cheongna Golf Club.

Trailing overnight leader Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe by two shots, Kruger made his move quickly with a birdie on the second hole. He picked up further strokes on holes seven and eight.

After making another birdie on 11, Kruger knew he would have a chance of winning and charged ahead with three straight pars before pulling clear with another set of birdies on 15 and 16.

Kruger, who posted a winning total of 15-under-par 269, said: “It all changed on the seventh hole when I made my second birdie. I could feel the momentum then. I started to feel good and after the 11th hole, I had a good feeling it was my time again.

“I would say what went right today was probably my putting. I didn’t hit it as well as I could have but my chipping and my putting saved me multiple times. That’s why I didn’t make bogeys.”

Being a Jack Nicklaus-designed course also helped. “It’s the same as my own course! It literally looks identical. It has the same lines, the same kind of grass. Everything is exactly the same and it almost feels like a home away from home.

“I heard someone say: ‘Horses for Courses’ … and that’s the truth, because you generally play well at the same courses all-year long.”

Korean-American Chan Kim matched Kruger’s final round efforts with a 65 of his own to finish in outright second place. Vincent slipped to third after posting a 71 at the event that was tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Korean PGA and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.

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