Kruger wins Avantha Masters

Gurgaon: South African Jbe Kruger overcame the late jitters on way to the Avantha Masters title, his first win on both Asian and European Tours. He did show signs nervousness when striding towards his victory but he managed to keep his nerves in check to claim the event that carries a purse of Euros 1.8 million.

He finished at 14-under 274 and two shots clear of Spain’s Jorge Campillo (67) and Germany’s Marcel Siem (70) at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon, India on Sunday.

The 25-year-old South African was flawless through the day and had three birdies on the front nine and turned in three-under. Through the day he either led or at least had a share of the lead, when at times Marcel Siem (70) and Jose Manuel Lara (70) seemed to give him a challenge in the richest tournament staged in India.

Kruger was three ahead on the 17th tee and then he had a bad approach shot and missed an up-and-down and logged a bogey. On the 18th, his drive was wayward and then struck a camera. His second shot went into the trees, but he hit his third over the water and onto the green. He two-putted for a par and the trophy was his with a card of 69. Kruger received the glittering trophy from Mr. Gautam Thapar, Chairman and CEO of the Avantha Group. He also picked up the winner’s prize cheque worth €300,000 and moved to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit,

It was not a very fruitful event for the dozen Indians, who made the cut. None of them came inside top-20 and the best was Shamim Khan (71) in 22nd place at five-under 283, while Anirban Lahiri (74) four-under 284 and tied 23rd. Vijay Kumar (73) ended tied 29th at three-under 285. Shiv Kapur (74) was two-under 286 and tied 35th.

Defending champion SSP Chowrasia had his best round of the week with a 70, but finished tied 48th alongside Jeev Milkha Singh (72). Manav Jaini (73) and Himmat Rai (72) were tied 54th, Mukesh Kumar (76) and Sanjay Kumar were tied 62nd and Vivek Bhandari, who had a superb time in first two rounds crashed to an 80 and ended tied 65th.

Spain’s Jorge Campillo (67) shot the best round of the day and German Marcel Siem were second. Siem, two behind on 18th, had an outside chance of getting into a play-off with a birdie and if Kruger bogeyed. He went into the bunker with his third and just managed a par for a 70. Campillo had four birdies on front nine and two more on back nine against one bogey on 14th.

Lara and Australian Marcus Fraser shared fourth on 11 under, two-time winner Lara finding water at the final hole to sink his chances after a brilliant outward 32 had given him a share of the lead.

“I’m very relieved to win for the first time,” said Kruger, who putted beautifully all week. “If you want to win you need to make putts on the final day and I did that today. It’s a big relief now that I’ve won but I think I needed all those second-placed finishes to be able to appreciate it. There was no pressure even when I made my only bogey of the day on the 17th.

“I felt that victory was inevitable when I got to the 14th hole. I knew that I had a good chance as I had a comfortable three-shot cushion then. I like to know what’s going on and I’m aware of the movements on the leaderboard.”

Thailand’s Prom Meesawat emerged as the leading Asian after he signed for a 71 to take a share of sixth place with three other players while compatriot Kiradech Aphibarnrat closed with a 68 to finish in tied-10th at the Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and PGTI.

There was disappointment for Scotland’s Peter Whiteford, however. Chasing his maiden European Tour title, the Scot was only one behind overnight, but eagle-eyed viewers alerted European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor to an incident on the 18th fairway during the third round.

Whiteford’s ball moved fractionally after he had addressed it, and having already signed for an incorrect score he was informed of his disqualification upon reaching the fourth tee.

Indian Results

Shamim Khan (71) 283 (-5) 22nd
Anirban Lahiri (74) 284 (-4) tied 23rd
Vijay Kumar (73) 285 (-3) tied 29th
Shiv Kapur (74) 286 (-2) tied 35th
Gaurav Pratap Singh (69) 287 (-1) tied 41st
SSP Chowrasia (70) 288 (even) tied 48th
Jeev Milkha Singh (72) 288 (even) tied 48th
Manav Jaini (73) 291 (+3) tied 54th
Himmat Rai (72) 291 (+3) tied 54th
Mukesh Kumar (76) 294 (+6) tied 62nd
Sanjay Kumar (73) 294 (+6) tied 62nd
Vivek Bhandari (80) 296 (+8) tied 65th