(Hong Kong, 6 December 2013) South African Jbe Kruger paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela after taking the lead at the halfway stage of the Hong Kong Open.
The 27 year old fired a four under par 66 at Hong Kong Golf Club to move to seven under, one shot clear of Welshman Stuart Manley (67) and two in front of German Alex Cejka (67), India’s Shiv Kapur (66) and Australian Wade Ormsby (68).
Kruger, who played the back nine in six under par, said he was saddened by the death of Mandela, the former South African president, and was glad to finish well after a shaky start.
“I think our country lost a real‑life hero,” he said. “He was probably one of the best people I’ve ever seen. It was an honour to wear this (pointing to the black ribbon on his shirt). I don’t think our country will ever have a leader like him again. I’m just trying to stay emotionally in a good place.
Of his round, Kruger, the only South African in the field, added: “I probably swung it the best I’ve swung it in a long time. I didn’t miss many greens. I’m excited as I’m playing better for a change and I’m actually enjoying it. If the putts start to drop, you never know.”
Manley grabbed the headlines at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf two weeks ago when his hole-in-one was followed by an 11 at the next hole, and he was delighted to remain in the limelight and in a strong position in Fanling.
“I’m happy and I’m looking forward to another 36 holes,” he said. “I’ll be trying to stay positive and keep doing what I’m doing. These are exciting times.
“I played lovely today and hit the ball much better than yesterday. I made some good putts and I was over the moon to birdie the 17th, 18th and first, which are very tough holes.”
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez will rue back-to-back bogeys to finish, but remains in a good position at three under par, but first round leader David Higgins struggled to a 74 to slip back to two under.
South African Jbe Kruger storms to the lead at the half way stage of the 55th Hong Kong Open after firing a four under par 66 on day two to move to seven under overall
Welshman Stuart Manley is one shot behind the leader at the half way stage of the 55th Hong Kong Open after impressing with two consecutive rounds of 67
Timothy Tang makes the cut at the Hong Kong Open after recording a half way score of 141 and will be the city’s sole representative on Saturday and Sunday’s play at the 55th Championship