BLOEMFONTEIN – Jbe Kruger shot a course-record 11-under-par 61 at Bloemfontein Golf Club on Saturday to place him one stroke off the lead of the Mangaung Open before the third round was suspended because of dangerous weather conditions.
Kruger made it into the clubhouse on 18 under par shortly before play was suspended at 17:01 and then called off for the day. The third round will resume at 07:00 on Sunday.
Scotland’s Craig Ross currently leads the tournament on 19 under par and at nine under for this third round with two holes still to come. Spain’s Scott Fernandez joined Kruger on 18 under and with a third round of 63.
Kruger has been playing incredible golf of late. At last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open he carded a 29 on the back nine at Durban Country Club on his way to finishing 12th there. And then at a Bloemfontein Golf Club where he grew up, Kruger went on a run of nine birdies and an eagle that has set him up for another shot at victory on the Challenge Tour.
“I’m very happy. Finally I can get my name on this course record,” he said.
“I know the course well but I was battling to read the greens over the first couple of days. I just couldn’t remember the lines. Then slowly it started coming back to me. I also began to hit the ball better, and if you’re hitting fairways and greens then the pressure is off.”
It was those memories that came flooding back to him that also allowed him to play aggressive golf on a day of low scoring that saw Tristen Strydom shoot a 64 to see him well-placed on 16 under par, and Louis Albertse added a 63 to join him on that total.
“The greens here have always been soft. I remember that growing up here, so it’s always felt like I can attack them a bit more,” said Kruger.
After years of struggling to get his swing back to the natural one he had when he started the game, Kruger felt he’d truly turned a corner when he won the Gauteng Championship on the Sunshine Tour last year. But he’s not about to get ahead of himself as he looks to take another step up with a Challenge Tour victory.
“Sunday is a new day. Golf is golf and it’s a crazy game, so you just have to take it one shot at a time and see what the outcome is. But I wouldn’t be able to describe what it would mean for me to win here, because I’m from here. It would be a tremendous victory for me personally because it’s been a tough battle for me to get here.” – Michael Vlismas