Kruger, Sterne have big plans for Telkom PGA Championship

At the far end of the driving range at this week’s Telkom PGA Championship, two of the smallest golfers on the Sunshine Tour are determined to make a big impact in South Africa’s second oldest professional tournament.

Jbé Kruger and Richard Sterne stood alongside each other hitting balls ahead of Thursday’s first round of this venerable championship.

Such is Kruger’s respect for one of the “majors” of South African golf that following his breakthrough European Tour victory in last week’s Avantha Masters, which was his fourth tournament in a row, he decided not to take a well-earned rest.

“I think if it was any other tournament this week I would’ve. But the reason I’m here is because the Telkom PGA Championship is such a big event in South African golf,” said Kruger.

And he knows full well a win last week guarantees him nothing at Country Club Johannesburg this week.

“I had my feet back on the ground as early as Monday. The win was cool and I waited a long time for it, but this is a new week. Of course I’d love to win this title, but last week’s victory won’t carry me through this week.”

This tournament also holds significance for Sterne. It was here in February 2011 that he retired on the second hole of his second round because of a back injury that kept him out of the game all of last year. His first tournament back was in the Africa Open in January, and he returns to a tournament where he finished second in the 2007 event behind Louis Oosthuizen.

“My back feels good. It’s not 100 per cent there, but it’s not affecting my golf swing, which is good. I’m hitting the ball well. I just need to sharpen up my short game and start scoring. But I like this course so it should be a good week,” said Sterne, who hopes a bit of the Kruger magic will rub off on him as the five-time winner on the European Tour attempts to work his way back into contention.

The two have been playing practice rounds together for the past two or three weeks, including the week of the Avantha Masters, where Sterne finished 23rd.

“It helped me, so I hope it helps him as well,” said Kruger.

Michael Vlismas

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