GURGAON, INDIA | For the first two days of
the Avantha Masters, Jbe Kruger was almost
as unobtrusive as his size. But the diminutive
South African was standing tall at week’s end,
claiming the Avantha Masters for his maiden
European Tour victory.
Kruger, 25, seemed in control of the tournament Sunday, holding a three-shot lead on the
17th tee, having earlier fought off a challenge
by Spain’s José Manuel Lara.
But he pulled his tee shot and failed to get
up and down for par, ending a run of 45 straight
holes without a bogey.
Then, on the par- 5 18th at DLF Golf & Country Club, another errant drive struck a camera,
and his second went left
into the trees. Faced with
a daunting third over
the water, Kruger
displayed nerves of
steel to stick his approach to 10 feet.
He missed the resulting birdie putt, but par was
good enough for a round of
69 and a 14-under-par total,
two clear of runner-up Jorge
Campillo of Spain, whose 67 was
the joint-best effort of the day,
and German Marcel Siem – who
had a sniff of a chance at the
last until his third found the
bunker, the resulting par leaving him with a 70.
Lara and Australian Marcus
Fraser shared fourth on 11
under. Two-time winner Lara
found water at the final hole to sink his chances after a brilliant outward 32 had given him a
share of the lead.
“I’m very relieved to win for the first time,”
said Kruger, who putted beautifully all week. “If
you want to win you need to make putts on the
final day and I did that today.”
Lara rode a red-hot putter into contention
as the 34-year-old holed 15-foot birdie putts at
the first and third, before curling in a monster
60-footer at the fifth. Kruger responded with a
birdie at the fourth, and both gained a shot on
the long sixth, before Lara almost holed it out
at the par- 3 eighth, leaving a tap-in birdie.
But Kruger holed a birdie putt from 20 feet
at the eighth to enter the back nine with a
one-shot lead, and the decisive fourth birdie
of the day followed at the par- 3 11th.
Scotland’s Peter Whiteford, chasing his
maiden European Tour title, and only one
behind overnight, was disqualified after
viewers alerted European Tour chief
referee John Paramor to an incident on
the 18th fairway during the third round.
Whiteford’s ball moved fraction-
ally after he had addressed it, and
having already signed for an incor-
rect score, he was informed of his
disqualification upon reaching the
fourth tee Sunday.
Defending champion SSP
Chowrasia was tied 48th at even-
par 288 as was Jeev Milkha