Jbe’ Kruger enjoyed the thrill of a lifetime by outscoring playing partner Tiger Woods with a seven-under-par 64, pushing him into second place and two shots behind halfway leader Robert Garrigus at the $6.1-million CIMB Classic on Friday.
The slightly built South African, ranked third on the Asian TourÂs Order of Merit, produced eight birdies against a lone bogey on another steamy day at the Mines Resort and Golf Club while Woods settled for a 67 which left him five shots off the pace in tied fifth position.
Garrigus fired a magnificent 64 to take a grip of the CIMB Classic, firing eight birdies over his closing 12 holes with a lone blemish coming at the last hole.
KoreaÂs Charlie Wi, a multiple Asian Tour winner and a regular now on the PGA Tour, fired a 66 to emerge as the leading Asian in the tournament sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.
Kruger was smiling from ear-to-ear as he rose magnificently to the occasion against the 14-time major champion Woods.
ÂIt’s fun to play with him. I enjoyed every moment, every second. I was nervous at the start and I was still nervous on 18!Â said Kruger, who claimed a maiden Asian Tour victory at the Avantha Masters in India earlier this season.
ÂI think playing with him definitely made me concentrate a bit harder. That is one thing I’ve been lacking in the last couple of months. So I think I want to play with him every day. Just to shoot anything, level par, anything was a dream. It was pretty cool.Â
Kruger wasnÂt fazed playing alongside one of the gameÂs living legends, shooting birdies on two, three, six and eight to turn in 31. He came home with five more birdies against a dropped shot on 12.
With a shot at the top-prize of $1.3-million, Kruger knows he must stay on an even keel to keep himself in contention against many stars of the game, including Woods. ÂI think I’ll probably just try to do the same. I’ve been playing well. I can’t really play much better than I am at the moment. The key is to hit the fairways, hit the greens, and then take it from there,Â said Kruger.
The South African said he would gain from the experience. ÂI think self belief, maybe. You’ve proven yourself probably against the best golfer that’s alive at the moment,Â he said.
Woods, chasing a fourth victory of the year, again endured a frustrating day on the tricky greens at the Mines Resort. But he was impressed with what he saw from Kruger.
ÂI knew a little bit about him, but I hadn’t seen him play. Today was the first time I’ve seen him. He was playing right in front of us yesterday, and he had a seven under with one to go and made a big mistake at 18. But he’s playing well. What is he? 12-under-par with a double. So he’s playing really, really well,Â said Woods.
Full story, scores and pictures at Asian Tour