Nervy Kruger bags first title

Indians fail to finish inside top 20

No Indian could get inside the top-20 bracket even as South African Jbe Kruger overcame late jitters to lift the Avantha Masters golf title, his first win on both the Asian and European Tours, here on Sunday.

ONE FOR THE ALBUM: South Africa’s Jbe Kruger poses with the Avantha Masters trophy. AFP

Kruger showed signs of nerves when striding towards victory but managed to keep them in check to claim the event that carries a purse of 1.8 million euros.

He finished at 14-under 274, two shots clear of Spain’s Jorge Campillo (67) and Germany’s Marcel Siem (70), at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

The Indians, who usually do well at home, did have not a great tournament. Only a dozen made the cut and none of them came inside the  top-20. The best was Shamim Khan (71) in 22nd place at five-under 283, while Anirban Lahiri (74) had a four-under 284 and was tied 23rd. Vijay Kumar (73) ended tied 29th at three-under 285. Shiv Kapur (74) was two-under 286 and tied 35th.

Defending champion SSP Chowrasia had his best round of the week with a 70, but finished tied 48th alongside Jeev Milkha Singh (72). Manav Jaini (73) and Himmat Rai (72) were tied 54th, Mukesh Kumar (76) and Sanjay Kumar were tied 62nd and Vivek Bhandari, who had a superb time in the first two rounds, crashed to an 80 and ended tied 65th. Kruger was flawless through the day and had three birdies on the front nine and turned in three-under. Through the day, he either led or at least had a share of the lead, when at times Siem (70) and Jose Manuel Lara (70) seemed to give him a challenge in the richest tournament staged in India.

Kruger picked up the winner’s prize cheque worth 300,000 pounds and moved to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit. “I’m very relieved to win for the first time. If you want to win, you need to make putts on the final day and I did that today. 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 it. There was no pressure even when I made my only bogey of the day on the 17th,” said Kruger. There was disappointment for Scotland’s Peter Whiteford, however.
Chasing his maiden European Tour title, the Scot was only one behind overnight, but eagle-eyed viewers alerted European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor to an incident on the 18th fairway during the third round. Whiteford’s ball moved fractionally after he had addressed it, and having already signed for an incorrect score, he was informed of his disqualification upon reaching the fourth tee.


Leading final round scores: 274: Jbe Kruger (SA, 70, 69, 66, 69). 276: Jorge Campillo (Spa, 72, 71, 66, 67); Marcel Siem (Ger, 69, 69, 68, 70). 277: Marcus Fraser (Aus, 69, 69, 69, 70); Jose Manuel Lara (Spa, 74, 69, 64, 70). 278: Thorbjorn Olesen (Den, 71, 67, 70, 70); Prom Meesawat (Tha, 72, 64, 71, 71); Estanislao Goya (Arg, 74, 70, 64, 70); Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra, 68, 69, 69, 72). 279: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha, 68, 69, 74, 68); Ricardo Santos (Por, 73, 69, 69, 68); Alejandro Canizares (Spa, 66, 73, 69, 71); Rhys Davies (Bri, 70, 69, 69, 71). 280: Gregory Havret (Fra, 68, 70, 71, 71); Paul McGinley (Ire, 70, 69, 68, 73).

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