For someone who lives his life by the numbers on a scorecard, Jbe’ KrugerÂs phenomenal rise over the past two years has to do with the specific numbers of 3:20.
Rather than a swing tip from David Leadbetter, itÂs been this verse in Ephesians that has carried Kruger from a world ranking of 587th at the start of 2010 to a current position of 120th, as well as fourth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
ÂThe verse basically says that God can do more for you than you could ever even ask for,Â Kruger says as he prepares for this weekÂs opening tournament on the 2011 Vodacom Origins of Golf series, and which tees off at Pretoria Country Club on Thursday.
The six-tournament series is the biggest on the Sunshine Tour, and features a select group of invited amateurs playing alongside the professionals for the right to qualify for the final in September.
Kruger is back on local fairways for the first time since FebruaryÂs Telkom PGA Championship, and following a solid run on the Asian Tour. And while it may appear trite or contrived for a professional golfer to be quoting scripture, or to assume that God is somehow involved in the outcome of a golf tournament, Kruger says his faith is the single biggest reason for his improvement.
ÂI canÂt explain it any other way. IÂve always practised hard and done my side of things. But then, the last two or three years, I went through some terrible times with my family. I donÂt want to talk too much about it, but my mom and dad and sister were in situations theyÂd never been in before. It affected me deeply.Â
Kruger thought heÂd hit a low point in a 2009 tournament at PrinceÂs Grant on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.
ÂI had to get over to Korea for a tournament the following week to keep my card on the Asian Tour, but I just didnÂt have the money. Then I shot 64 in the final round at PrinceÂs Grant and made enough, to the cent, to fly to Korea and keep my card. That was the start of it for me.Â
In 2010, Kruger came close to a maiden European Tour victory when he finished third in the Africa Open. Then he won the Zimbabwe Open for his second title on the Sunshine Tour.
He also finished second in the Vodacom Championship at Pretoria Country, and this plus a run of third and seventh in two major events on the Asian Tour recently have him full of confidence for the week ahead.
ÂMentally IÂm on a different level, but you still have to go out there and perform. IÂm looking forward to this tournament and playing at home again.Â
By Michael Vlismas