Kruger steps out in Johnnie Walker Championship

Jbe’ Kruger has four top-10 finishes on the European Tour this season, and his invitation to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland this week gives him a chance for a fifth.

Kruger, a two-time winner on the Sunshine Tour with his 2009 Zambia Open title and his victory in the 2010 Africom Zimbabwe Open, is one of eight players who have sponsors’ invitations into the Scottish event.

He will be in the field with five other South Africans: Keith Horne, Hennie Otto, Jaco van Zyl, George Coetzee and Shaun Norris.

The 156-man field is headed up by defending champion Edoardo Molinari, the Italian star who won so impressively last year when he birdied the last three holes to edge out Australian Brett Rumford by a single stroke.

Kruger last played a European Tour event in June where he finished in a share of 64th in the BMW International Open in Munich. It started well for him with his opening 66, but he closed with three rounds in the 70s to slip down the leaderboard.

But two weeks earlier, he managed the latest of his European top-10s with his eighth place in the BMW Italian Open.

And his form when he returned to South Africa for the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club earlier this month was solid in tough conditions: He finished in a share of third behind winner Darren Fichardt after he battled with the wind in the first round.

His other top-10s came in the 2011 Race to Dubai opener at the end of 2010 when he came 10th in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, in January in the Africa Open where he finished eighth, and when he finished seventh in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea in May.

There is a run of tournaments which will give him the opportunity to get his first win outside the Sunshine Tour after the Johnnie Walker Championship as he heads back into Asian Tour action – but a good performance in Scotland will be a great stepping stone.

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