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‘President’ Kruger is all heart

It’s been great to see how much goodwill there has been around Jbé Kruger’s Avantha Masters victory.

Over the past three seasons at least, Kruger has played such consistent golf it’s been hard to see how he hasn’t won more. But he is one of those golfers people are always cheering for to do well.

Perhaps it has something to do with his proud Afrikaans heritage and his inclination to speak only Afrikaans in media interviews. He can speak English of course, but will only do so if pushed. Perhaps it has to do with his strong Christian values, which he doesn’t shy away from in public.

Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he is shorter than Ernie Els’s putter, yet plays the game like a giant of the fairways. What he lacks in height, Kruger makes up for in pure heart. He averages 281 metres in driving distance, and appears to swing himself out of his shoes every time he hits the ball.

“I’ve realised that when I’m under pressure, the harder I hit the ball the straighter it goes,” he said at this week’s Telkom PGA Championship.

His strength is something that comes from his father, Hannie. “My dad was also small, and he was a marathon athlete. His strength was the uphills. He told me I had to practice harder than the rest and work harder on my physical fitness because I was smaller than other golfers. I saw how it worked for him and how he absolutely killed other runners on the uphills.”

It may also have something to do with the fact that Kruger thinks deeply about the context of golf in life.

His win in India was obviously significant. But he put a different spin on that significance when he said, “I like India. It brings you down to earth. If you see the poverty there and the way people live, you appreciate what you have. You just can’t escape the poverty there, and it humbles you.”

On another note, a warm congratulations to Iqbal Khan, golf writer for The Daily News, on receiving the Telkom Golf Writer of the Year award at the recent Compleat Golfer Awards.

In his 40 years of sports reporting, Khan’s influence has stretched far and wide. But the golf journalists at this week’s Sunshine Tour event saw it reach new heights when Khan received a phone call from the Los Angeles Times, with a request to interview him about his award.

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