The sixth in a series of profiles of the top 10 players on the 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit:
No. 5 – Jbe’ Kruger
It was a strange old year for Jbe’ Kruger: He started slowly in South Africa and then had a horror run in Europe and Asia as his swing deserted him.
A share of second back in South Africa in August in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Langebaan signalled a return to form, and then a purple patch during the end-of-the-year run in the events co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour saw him have his most lucrative year yet on the Sunshine Tour as he banked R2,045,404.82.
And while his fifth-place finish on the Order of Merit was one position lower than his 2010 finish, he will take a world of confidence from the way he turned his game around when it seemed to be heading rapidly downhill.
After that Langebaan performance, he was back in South Africa for the BMG Classic, finishing in a share of 8th there and using that as a springboard for a brilliant South African Open Championship on the same course at Glendower Golf Club.
His second place there was built on a pair of 65s – in the first round and in the final round – and while his middle rounds of 70 and 71 let him down in the end as Morten Orum Madsen went on to win, he almost visibly swelled with confidence as he went low on that pulsating final day.
A horrible 87 in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship must have had him feeling his problems had come back, but he closed with a 67 there, and then went on to a share of 11th in the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.
Expect a determined challenge for top honours in the early events of 2014 from Kruger.