Jbe’ gets extra height on Dunhill Links tees

Jbe’ Kruger and former Springbok rugby captain Morne du Plessis will form what may be the pair with the greatest height differential at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The $5-million event will be played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links – and features an individual professional tournament for some of the world’s leading golfers and a team event in which they are paired with some of the most celebrated amateurs.

Each of 168 teams, consisting of one professional and one amateur, contest the first three rounds, with one round being played at each of the three courses in rotation. The two competitions are played concurrently – individual professional and team. The team score will be the best net score of the two players at each hole. After 54 holes the field is cut to the leading 60 professionals and ties, plus the 20 leading teams, all of whom play the final round over the Old Course at St Andrews.

Kruger, who won his maiden European Tour title when he took the Avantha Indian Masters in February, has been paired with very tall rugby players before – notably at the 2011 Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, when former Springbok lock Schalk Burger famously lifted him onto his shoulder on the first tee of the Outeniqua course.

Kruger, who has not had much of a year since his victory, and will be anxiously eyeing developments on the Asian Tour too as he sees whether he can win that Order of Merit, on which he currently lies second, is one of a host of South Africans in the field.

Three of South Africa’s major champions are in Scotland, headed by Open champion Ernie Els. Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion and Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, will also tee it up.

Also there are the top 10 available players from the 2011 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, which give Christiaan Basson a shot at playing in a top-flight European Tour event, together with regulars Hennie Otto, George Coetzee, Thomas Aiken, Jaco van Zyl, Branden Grace, Darren Fichardt, James Kingston, Kruger and Tjaart van der Walt.

Richard Sterne gets in on his medical extension, while Allan Versfeld, Dylan Fritelli and Anton Haig are in on sponsors invitations. Keith Horne is the last South African in by virtue of his postion in the 2012 Race to Dubai.

Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius is one of the celebrities participating, and he will be paired with victorious European Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul McGinley.

The diminutive Kruger will be hoping that some of Du Plessis’ flair as a rangy No. 8 for the Springboks and Western Province will rub off on him.

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