Kuala Lumpur October 26: 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 US$6.1 million CIMB Classic on Friday.
The slightly built South African, ranked third on the Asian Tour’s 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.
Korea’s 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.
“It’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!” said Kruger, who claimed a maiden Asian Tour victory at the Avantha Masters in India earlier this season.
“I 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.”
Kruger wasn’t fazed playing alongside one of the game’s 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 US$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. “I 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,” said Kruger.
The South African said he would gain from the experience. “I think self belief, maybe. You’ve proven yourself probably against the best golfer that’s alive at the moment,” 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.
“I 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,” said Woods.
The American superstar, making a return to Malaysia after winning the 1999 World Cup of Golf, battled hard in the heat and humidity to keep alive his hopes of winning in his CIMB Classic debut.
“That’s one of the hard things,” said Woods. “You have to make birdies out there. You can’t just be passive and play to the centre of the greens and stuff. You have to be aggressive. Guys are taking it low.
“It was just one of those days that I didn’t make enough birdies. I didn’t really have a lot of looks, and then the looks I did have were downhill, cross grain putts and putts that I just couldn’t be aggressive with.”
Garrigus, a one-time winner on the PGA Tour, reckons the winning score will be 20-something under par after shooting his second straight 64.
“I feel like I can beat anybody in the world. I’ve played with Tiger. I’ve played with Rory (McIlroy) in the TOUR Championship. I hit it just as good as those guys. It’s just the short game. If I’m putting well and if I keep putting like this on the weekend, it’s going to be hard to catch me,” said the 34-year-old
“I do have a very high confidence level right now. I had one of the best years of my career. I’m having fun, having a good time with it. A lot of my hard work is paid off and that’s nice to see.”
Scores after round 2 of the 2012 CIMB Classic being played at the par 71, 6909 Yards Mines Resort Golf Club course (a- denotes amateur):
128 – Robert GARRIGUS (USA) 64-64.
130 – Jbe’ KRUGER (RSA) 66-64.
132 – Greg Chalmers (AUS) 66-66, Troy MATTESON (USA) 63-69.
133 – Brendon de JONGE (ZIM) 68-65, Kevin NA (USA) 67-66, Tiger WOODS (USA) 66-67.
134 – Ben CRANE (USA) 68-66, Jeff OVERTON (USA) 64-70, Brian HARMAN (USA) 64-70.
135 – Trevor IMMELMAN (RSA) 72-63, Bo VAN PELT (USA) 70-65, Bill HAAS (USA) 70-65, Charlie WI (KOR) 69-66, Chris KIRK (USA) 69-66, Martin LAIRD (SCO) 68-67, Kevin STADLER (USA) 67-68, Pat PEREZ (USA) 67-68, Tom GILLIS (USA) 65-70.
136 – Nick WATNEY (USA) 71-65, Carl PETTERSSON (SWE) 69-67, J.B. HOLMES (USA) 66-70.
137 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-65, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 71-66, NOH Seung-Yul (KOR) 71-66, Jimmy WALKER (USA) 69-68, Bob ESTES (USA) 69-68, Ryan PALMER (USA) 69-68, Ricky BARNES (USA) 66-71, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 65-72.
138 – John SENDEN (AUS) 72-66, John HUH (USA) 70-68.
139 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-69, Johnson WAGNER (USA) 70-69, Kyle STANLEY (USA) 69-70.
140 – Cameron TRINGALE (USA) 71-69, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 70-70, Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN) 69-71, William MCGIRT (USA) 70-70, Jason DUFNER (USA) 68-72.
141 – Sean O’HAIR (USA) 69-72, David LIPSKY (USA) 68-73, Danny CHIA (MAS) 66-75.
142 – Marc LEISHMAN (AUS) 75-67.
143 – Scott PIERCY (USA) 75-68.
147 – SIDDIKUR (BAN) 73-74, Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS) 74-73, Scott HEND (AUS) 70-77