The pangs of pain made the moment sweeter. Trophy in hand, the chiseled face wore a smile, but the mind had rewound to 2010. Soon, Jbe Kruger was sharing his thoughts. "It's a relief that I've won but I needed those second-place finishes to appreciate this."
Finishing second-best thrice on the Asian Tour may have fractionally disappointed, but faith in God and his craft helped "keep my feet in the grass".
The belief was again put to test towards the end of Sunday, and the South African came out unscathed. Armed with a three-shot cushion, the bogey on the 17th, which was only his third dropped shots in four rounds, could have hassled him into another mistake, but Kruger stayed unmoved.
"I hit a good shot, the wind switched on me (landing the second shot in the rough)," he said with a shrug.
His challengers wilting under the weight of the occasion, the South African had little trouble in making par.
From his parents, who got him going on the path of "complete surrender", to his ladylove, Kruger was in debt, but the acceptance speech had to meander towards Christ. "Lord, without you I'm nothing," he said, throwing a glance at the embroidered cross on the left sleeve.
The eyes may not have been trained on the cheque of euro 300,000, his largest European Tour prize, but Kruger did have an inkling when he teed off for the last time at the DLF Golf & Country Club. "I knew victory was a possibility from my first shot." Over the next couple of hours, he did what was required of him, and by the time the Avantha Masters' leader-group landed on the 14th, "victory was inevitable".
Not Whiteford's day
In lead after the first two days, Peter Whiteford was disqualified at the start of Sunday after the rules committee determined that the ball had moved while he was playing his approach shot on the 18th fairway on Saturday. The Scot was "disqualified for signing for a score lower than taken and for failing to include the penalty he had incurred".