Jbe’ Kruger will be hoping to make the most of another European Tour opportunity as he tees it up at Diamond Country Club in Austria for this week’s Lyoness Open.
The 29-year-old, who finished 141st in the Race to Dubai standings last year, has only been able to play a limited schedule in Europe due to a disappointing 2015 spell. His main focus has thus been on both the Sunshine and Asian Tours, where he has been a member for the best part of the last decade.
After playing at last week’s Nordea Masters, this will be Kruger’s second standalone European Tour event of the year, having played all the co-sanctioned events that his other tour memberships have allowed him to.
The world number 469 had a breakthrough win at the 2012 Avantha Masters that was co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, but was only able to kick on in the Asian Tour while he struggled on the European Tour, resulting him losing his full playing privileges when his two year exemption (earned from the win) expired.
The three-time Sunshine Tour winner will look to perform in Austria, given that the field includes several Challenge Tour regulars. Home town favourite Bernd Wiesberger and defending champion Chris Wood, who won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth recently, present the most obvious threats.
Kruger’s 2016 season has yet to yield a top-10 finish on any tour, but he does have four top-20 finishes with a best of tied 13th at the Zimbabwe Open on the Sunshine Tour. In all of his starts this season he has made 11 cuts from 14 events which is encouraging given he missed 22 cuts from 40 events in 2015.
Whether co-sanctioned or not, his best performance on the European Tour this season was a tie for 15th at the Hero Indian Open and he stands 145th in the Race to Dubai standings.
Kruger will have to dramatically improve on his record at the Lyoness Open this week if he wants to prove himself. In his three previous visits the Kimberley-born golfer has not made a cut, with a best round of one-over-par 73 on the Diamond Country Club layout.
Other South Africans in the field this week include Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli, Zander Lombard, Jean Hugo, Justin Walters, Tjaart van der Walt, Ulrich van den Berg, Michael Palmer and Darryn Lloyd.