Jbe’ Kruger pulled off his fourth top 10 finish of the 2011 Race to Dubai on the European Tour with his eighth place finish in the weekendÂs Italian Open.
He was in second going into the final round, but he was unable to match the pyrotechnics of eventual winner Robert Rock and some of the other players ahead of him.
Rock carded a five-under-par 67 to take his maiden victory ahead of Gary Boyd and Thorbjorn Oleson.
KrugerÂs solid performance lifted him to 75th in the Race to Dubai, and closer to the top 60 who will get to compete in the lucrative season-ending Dubai World Championship. It also went a long way towards making sure he has a full European Tour card for next season.
It made no difference to his world ranking, which stayed steady at 128, but, behind him, George Coetzee finished in a solid share of 11th with his final round 66, and has climbed into the top 200 in the world for the first time in his career at 194.
Hennie Otto, who won the Italian Open in 2008, finished in a share of 46th at eight-under-par for the tournament, while Michiel Bothma was 72nd on level par. Shaun Norris missed the cut.
Kruger kept himself in touch with the lead throughout the tournament, and he will perhaps look back on two double-bogeys he made during the week as points at which he deprived himself of an opportunity for victory.
He made a six on the par-four 17th in his opening round for the only blemish on his card that day, and then a five on the fourth in the third round saw him card a 67 and he finished the day two shots off the lead.
He also battled to get anything going in the final round, which saw some extraordinary scoring by the leaders, notably Oleson who made nine birdies, an eagle and a bogey in his 10-under 62 which vaulted him to second.
Rock, a regular in South Africa, managed to pull off his first European Tour victory after nine years of trying.