Kruger earns first European Tour title with two-shot win at Avantha Masters

jbe kruger
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Before his victory Sunday, Jbe Kruger's best result on the European Tour was third at the 2010 Africa Open.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012 | 12:23 p.m.

Jbe Kruger claimed his breakthrough European Tour victory at the Avantha Masters Sunday on a day that saw Scotland's Peter Whiteford disqualified late in the third round for moving his ball.

Whiteford, one off the lead at the start of the day, was removed from contention after TV replays of his third shot to the 18th on Saturday showed that his ball rolled a fraction before he played to the green. Because he signed his card, it meant disqualification.

Officials reviewed the matter as the 31-year-old, who led after the first and second days, began the final round and he was given the bad news just after bogeying the short third.

It was a happier day for South African Kruger, whose final-round 69 was enough to finish 14 under for a two-stroke victory.

He almost lost his nerve at the end despite carrying a three-shot lead to the 17th tee. A bogey on that hole followed by a loose drive on the 18th gave him cause for concern, but he rescued par to take the title.

Spain's Jorge Campillo signed for a 67 -- tied for best of the day -- to finish tied for second with Germany's Marcel Siem.

Marcus Fraser of Austria and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara finished three off the lead.

"Peter felt his ball may have moved and for confirmation asked his caddie, a fellow competitor and a TV cameraman, who said they didn't think it had, and so he continued on to finish the hole," said European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor. "Overnight several viewers contacted the Tour website. This was reviewed by the Rules Committee, who were able to determine that the ball had in fact moved. He should have incurred a penalty of one stroke and replaced the ball.

"As he did not do so, he was disqualified for signing for a score lower than taken for failing to include the penalty he had incurred," Paramor explained. "If he had contacted a member of the Rules Team before signing his scorecard, the footage would have been reviewed at the time and he would have averted the disqualification penalty."

"I should have reviewed it. You can see it when you look at TV," said Whiteford. "John spoke to me before I went out, so to be honest my head wasn't in it from the first tee.

"I'm not cheating obviously," he added. "It's one of those things, but disappointing."

Kruger finished second on the Asian Tour three times in 2010, while his best previous result on the European Tour was third at the Africa Open the same year. His best on this year’s European Tour has been ninth at the Joburg Open in South Africa.