Kruger needs to reverse trend

He’s had three top-20s since his breakthrough European Tour victory in February, but Jbe’ Kruger needs to rediscover his form ahead of the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open which starts on Thursday in Japan.

That’s if he is to regain his top spot on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, which he gained after he won the Avantha Masters in India.

He’s currently second on the money list, having given up his lead to Australia’s Marcus Fraser. But the deficit is just $8,500, and a good performance as the Asian Tour heads towards its 2012 conclusion could see the diminutive South African back on top.

The problem is his recent form is worrying: He’s largely been campaigning on the European Tour, and two of those three top-20s came in the Maybank Malaysian Open behind Louis Oosthuizen and in the Volvo China Open behind Branden Grace.

The third top-20 was in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, and 17th in a non-strokeplay event is hardly a pointer towards any kind of tournament form. That result also came back in May, and since then, he has missed seven cuts of the 13 he’s missed this year.

So it’s been a bit of a worry for the man from Bloemfontein, who, after his win in India, would have hoped to have kicked on to join in the kind of winning streak started by Grace, and so nearly emulated by Oosthuizen – two of the three other South Africans to have won abroad this year.

In the fiercely competitive Japanese arena, he’s going to have to get it all back together, and hope that he can produce some good rounds consecutively, rather than blotting his copybook by starting with big numbers before getting things under control.

A win might be difficult, but consistency will go a long way to allaying whatever fears he may be feeling now and giving him a springboard to claiming that Asian Tour Order of Merit.

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