Jbe’ looks for Zimbabwe defence

Jbe’ Kruger is not at the highest position he has ever been on the Official World Golf Rankings, but his 137th position this week is significant for a number of reasons.

The defending Africom Zimbabwe Open champion has established himself inside the top 10 of South African golfers ahead of the likes of Trevor Immelman, James Kingston, Keith Horne and Jaco van Zyl.

All that’s missing from his resume is a big win, and he put in a couple of valiant efforts for a a pair of second place finishes that were so nearly victories on last year’s Asian Tour – a circuit which has begun to harden him and turn him into a professional who is looking more and more at home in big-name company.

Last year, he was chased home at Royal Harare in the Zimbabwe Open for his second professional title (after the 2009 Zambia Open) by Van Zyl, and Van Zyl won’t be there this year as he begins his own quest for international recognition after earning his European Tour card.

He missed the cut at the Joburg Open – but it was not a poor display as he made two par 71s in a row, and simply missed out in a low-scoring opening pair of rounds.

His share of eighth in the Africa Open has him nicely poised in a share of 15th in the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after the opening two events, and the title defence in Harare is an ideal place for him to launch his season to another level.

In the absence of Van Zyl, there will be, however, a pair of multiple winners from last year’s Sunshine Tour in Jean Hugo, who won three times, and Adilson Da Silva, who won twice.

Da Silva has a long history at Royal Harare, having come to Zimbabwe from Brazil as a young man learning the game and putting in many long hours of work there. He’s also well loved by the locals who remember him fondly and that kind of support is invaluable.

Hugo has the ability to unfurl a series of great rounds in succession, and, if one of them is very low, he suddenly becomes very difficult to catch.

But Kruger seems to thrive in South Africa’s neighbouring countries – his two victories as a professional have come in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Successfully defending his Zimbabwe Open title is more than a realistic possibility.

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