South Africa’s Jbe Kruger ended his seven-year title drought on the Asian Tour by signing off with a six-under-par 65 to win The 35th Shinhan Donghae Open by two shots on Sunday.
Kruger has not won another Asian Tour title since his lone win in India in 2012. However, he showed he was ready to make his comeback to the winner’s circle with a commanding performance where he did not drop a single shot in his last 37 holes at the Bear’s Best Cheongna Golf Club.
Trailing overnight leader Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe by two shots, the South African made his move quickly with a birdie on the second hole, followed by another pair of birdies on holes seven and eight.
After making another birdie on 11, Kruger knew he would have a chance of winning and charged ahead with three straight pars before pulling ahead with another set of birdies on 15 and 16 to eventually close with a winning total of 15-under-par 269.
Korean-American Chan Kim matched Kruger’s final round efforts with another 65 of his own to finish in outright second place while Vincent could not hold on to his overnight lead, slipping to third place after posting a 71 at The 35th Shinhan Donghae Open which is being tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Korean PGA and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Did you know?
- With this win Jbe Kruger secures a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour after being ranked 95th on the Order of Merit the previous week.
- The South African did not make a bogey in his last 37 holes of the tournament, going back to the 17th hole on Friday.
- He had a Driving Distance average of 286 yards, Driving accuracy of 67.86%, Greens in Regulation (GIR) of 76.39 and Putts per GIR of 1.69.
- Kruger last won on the Asian Tour in the 2012 Avantha Masters in India, a tournament that was co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
- Hailing from Northern Cape province in South Africa, he has also recorded four career wins on the Sunshine Tour. The latest title coming at the Sun Carnival City Challenge in 2017.
- The 33-year-old got his nickname Jbe from the initials in his full name, James Barry Kruger.
- Chan Kim is a former member of the Asian Tour. He topped the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2013.
- He finished third on the JGTO money list in 2017, thanks to three wins.
- Kim came in second at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour in July where he earned his spot to The Open.
- He is currently leading the driving distance stats category (320.34) on the JGTO.
- Scott Vincent, the only Zimbabwean member on Tour, has never finished outside the top-three in his last four outings at the Shinhan Donghae Open.
- He finished tied-second in 2016, tied-third in 2017, second last year and third this week.
- Vincent claimed his first international win at the Landic Challenge 7 held on the Japan Challenge Tour in June.
- He has not missed a single cut in eight starts so far this season.
- Vincent was crowned the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year in 2016 after ending his season in 28th place on the Order of Merit.
Jbe Kruger (Rsa) Fourth round 65 (-6) Total 269 (-15)
It all changed on the seventh hole when I made my second birdie and I could feel the momentum then. It was in the Lord’s plan whether I would win again today. But as for me, I started to feel good and after the 11th hole, I had a good feeling it was my time again. I would say what went right today was probably my putting. I obviously didn’t hit it as well as I could have but my chipping and my putting saved me multiple times and that’s why I didn’t make bogeys. I’m a professional and this is what I do for a living, so I will probably go where the money is, go there and play well. I have been a big fan of playing in Japan, but you can’t really get into that Tour if you haven’t gone to Q school. But now, things have changed. This course is a Jack Nicklaus design golf course. It’s the same as my own course, so the first time I came here, it literally looks identical. It has the same lines, the same kind of grass. Everything is exactly the same and it almost feels like a home away from home. So, you know I’ve heard someone say “horses for courses” and that’s the truth, because you generally play well at the same courses all year long.
Chan Kim (Usa) Fourth round 65 (-6) Total 271 (-13)
Yeah I played really solid and gave a good fight today. Obviously the you know, we were expecting some bad weather but it held up pretty well. It was pretty windy but it was definitely scorable conditions. It’s quite a bitter pill to swallow after finishing so close. I finished second and third quite a bit this year, so I’m just still waiting for that first win of the season.
Scott Vincent (Zim) Fourth round 71 (Even) Total 273 (-11)
It was just tough, not a lot went my way and I didn’t play very well. You know, I left a few shots out there as well but when you look at the overall picture, I would have had to at least shoot four under today to match that score which is going to be tough any day out here. So, the way Jbe played it was going to be tough to beat either way. But obviously with my position going in, I would have liked to have a slightly different result. But hey, I still haven’t finished outside of the top-three, so still not bad. I learned a lot and got a lot to work on, but heading in the right direction. I put myself in contention to win a tournament, that’s important for me. You know this has been a big tournament for me in my career, where it’s kind of boosted the rest of the year, so I’m hoping that this is going to do the same and carry me forward in these next few events.
Leading Scores after round 4 of the The 35th Shinhan Donghae Open being played at the par 71, 7238 Yards Bear’s Best Cheongna GC course (am – denotes amateur):
269 – Jbe Kruger (RSA) 69-67-68-65.
271 – Chan Kim (USA) 66-71-69-65.
273 – Scott Vincent (ZIM) 67-67-68-71.
274 – Sung Kang (KOR) 69-70-65-70.
275 – Rikuya Hoshino (JPN) 74-67-66-68.
276 – Shugo Imahira (JPN) 66-70-68-72.
277 – Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 68-69-71-69, Matthew Griffin (AUS) 70-72-65-70.
278 – Shaun Norris (RSA) 74-69-67-68, Sanghee Lee (KOR) 69-73-66-70, Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 70-66-70-72.
For full results, download here.