Emotional Kruger surges to lead in Hong Kong

Last updated 04:46 07/12/2013

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South African Jbe Kruger paid tribute to Nelson Mandela after storming to a one-shot lead as the Hong Kong Open reached the halfway stage on Friday.

"Our country has lost a real-life hero and wearing this (black ribbon) is a real honor for me," said an emotional Kruger, who wore black ribbons on his chest and arm while carding a second-round 66 on the par-70 Hong Kong Golf Course.

"I don't think our country will ever have another leader like Mandela. He has been sick and in hospital for a long time yet it was sad when I heard this morning of his passing away. Unfortunately I never met him but I know his death will affect everyone, white and black, in my country."

Kruger made seven birdies against three bogeys to tally a 7-under-par 133 and pinch the outright lead.

"God took care of that," he said. "I probably swung it the best I have in a long time and when the putts started to drop like that you have to know it's in God's hands."

He finished one shot in front of Stuart Manley of Wales, who added a second consecutive round of 67. Manley let slip the chance to tie for the lead when he bogeyed his final hole.

"It wasn't the finish I wanted. But it's OK, I'm still in the mix," said Manley, who holed six birdies but three bogeys.

"I started slowly, maybe (I had) too much coffee, but then began to control the ball well," Manley said. "I made a few good putts and it all started to come together."

Two shots adrift of Kruger in joint-third were Germany's Alex Cejka (67), Indian Shiv Kapur (66) and Australian Wade Ormsby (68), all on 5 under. Eight players were tied at 4 under.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez began the second round ominously with a flurry of birdies but lost momentum to finish with a 67 to total 3 under.

"It is OK. Of course, I would have liked to be closer (to the leader) but there is still a lot to play for," said Jimenez, who is seeking his fourth title in Hong Kong.

Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang, who made the cut at the U.S. Masters in April, failed to make it through to the weekend after a 75 left him on 6 over, five shots below the cut line.

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- AP

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