2nd July 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Kruger’s barb a blessing at Race to the USA Champs

Centurion1-3JulDay1 (79)(Photo – Pieter Kruger; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 2 July 2014 – A runner-up finish worth R25k and a flawless 63 for a share of the second lead at the Race to the USA Championship has convinced Pretoria pro Pieter Kruger that prevention is infinitely better than cure.

Playing with a thorn embedded in his right thumb since middle June, Kruger romped to second at the Maheking Pro-Am and hurried to a nine-under-par 63 at Centurion Country Club on Wednesday to join TJ Bekker at eight-under-par 136.

While Kruger stayed off the bogey trail, overnight leader Bekker had to fight off three bogeys to hold on to pole position with a 69.

Brenden de Lange eagled the par-four ninth on his way to a 66 and finished one shot shy of the pacesetters.

Race to the USA leader, Huyn Park from Korea, fired a 67 to grab a share of fourth at six under with last week’s winner at Modderfontein, Jacques de Villiers, who returned a 68.

Kruger picked up the offending thorn during the first round of the Maheking Open, but the Blue Valley golfer resigned himself to wait for nature to take its course after emergency room staff only managed to break off a small piece of the offending barb.

“They wanted to cut, but I said no, so they suggested I wait until the thing pushes itself out,” the 30-year-old Blue Valley golfer said.

“Ironically, I’ve been playing the best golf of my season since I picked up the thorn, so I am in no hurry to get rid of it. I had three great rounds at Leopard Park and I’m hitting the ball really well. I still hit an errand shot here and there, but overall, I feel in in control.

“I only had 24 putts out there, so the swing is definitely coming around.”

Kruger turned in three under after birdies at the 13th, 14th and 16th, and went four under with birdie number four at the par-five first. He reeled in five birdies in a row to finish the loop in six under.

“I don’t even remember the last time I had a bogey-free round,” the GFG Academy golfer said. “I really enjoyed that little run. Everything just clicked so nicely.

“Most of the birdies were regulation, but I had two great chip-ins that really kicked up the adrenaline. I was about six meters off the green at the 16th and chipped in and I holed a great trap shot at the eighth for a two.”

Kruger campaigned on the country’s premier development Tour last year in preparation for the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School.

“I missed my card, but got a Big Easy Tour card,” he said. “Our next Big Easy is only in August, so it’s great to keep your form going on the IGT Tour. Although I have a great sponsorship from DST Aluminium, the R25,000 I earned at the Maheking Pro-Am will come in really handy.

“The IGT Tour organisers once again set the course up using the former Telkom PGA Pro-Am blue print. We need to be pushed and put under pressure to improve and I loved it.”

Sunshine Ladies Tour regulars Alana van Greuning and Kristen Campbell also revelled in the challenge and both survived the cut, set at five over 149.

Van Greuning carded a 73 to finish at one under 143, while Campbell signed for a second successive 73 to finish at two over 146.

SECOND ROUND SCORES

136 – Pieter Kruger 73 63, TJ Bekker 67 69

137 – Brendan De Lange 71 66

138 – Jacques de Villiers 70 68, Hyun Park KOR 71 67

139 – Lean Boezaart 72 67

140 – James Searson 71 69, Rae Mackie 70 70, Russel Franz 72 68

141 – Coert Groenewald 71 70, Calvin Caldeira (AMA) 71 70, Conway Kunneke 70 71

142 – Wayne Stroebel 74 68, Rupert Kaminski (AMA) 68 74

143 – Duane Keun 73 70, Alana van Greuning 70 73, Terence Boardman 71 72, Hano van der Walt 73 70

144 – JC van Dommelen 74 70, Albert Visser (AMA) 74 70, Michael Scholz 71 73, Herman Minnie 71 73

145 – Jonathan Waschefort 76 69, Pierre Viviers 71 74, Romano Saincic 71 74, Jason Diab (AMA) 74 71, Jason Roets (AMA) 73 72

146 – Kirsten Campbell (AMA) 73 73, Antonio Rosado POR 73 73, Jerry Steyn 77 69

147 – Tyron McComb 74 73, Marthin Scheepers (AMA) 73 74, Mike Quinn 76 71

148 – Stephan Erasmus (AMA) 70 78, Henk Visser 74 74, Murray Smit 75 73, Gareth Akers (AMA) 73 75

149 – Robert Herselman FRA 75 74, Tudor Bismark ZIM (AMA) 71 78, Khaya Jika 78 71, Wesley Baptiste (AMA) 73 76

Missed the cut:-

150 – Willie Steyn 75 75, Julian de Wet (AMA) 76 74, Lucas Steyn 72 78, Ryan Wingrove (AMA) 75 75, CJ Levey (AMA) 76 74

151 – Niel Meyer (AMA) 78 73, Theodor Oosthuizen (AMA) 77 74, Arno Pretorius (AMA) 73 78, Bryce Burke USA (AMA) 79 72, Werner Van Niekerk 83 68

152 – Keegan Steyn (AMA) 78 74, Shaun van Tonder 76 76, Byron Garvie 76 76, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA) 75 77

153 – Michael Van Hoeck (AMA) 77 76, Justin Godfrey (AMA) 73 80

154 – Jacqui Akers (AMA) 78 76

155 – Lloyd Herbst (AMA) 76 79, Christiaan Pretorius 77 78

157 – Rob Menzies ENG 72 85, Morne Du Plessis (AMA) 83 74, Shaun Bernstein (AMA) 79 78, Andre Pistorius 76 81, Gabriel Erasmus 81 76

159 – Benjamin Cobbett (AMA) 77 82

160 – Michael Jooste (AMA) 80 80, Wayne du Toit 79 81

165 – Quintin Crause (AMA) 80 85

181 – Gustav Erasmus 92 89

WDN – Alwyn Vorster 82 WDN

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