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Kruger's bendy eight-iron costs South African at the last

By Patrick Johnston

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Charging through the field at seven-under after 17 holes of the CIMB Classic, Jbe Kruger thought the first-round lead was in his sights until the South African realized his approach at the last required an eight-iron.

"I bent my eight-iron on the fourth hole and I had a flier lie, so I couldn't use a nine-iron on 18. I couldn't get there. I couldn't hit a seven-iron. I needed an eight-iron," Kruger told reporters in Malaysia on Thursday.

In the end the 26-year-old South African went with the seven-iron and the uncertainty led to him spoiling a bogey-free round at the $6.1 million event.

"I compensated a little, hit it in the bunker and didn't hit a very good shot and missed the putt, six (shots)," the diminutive, long-hitting Asian Tour player said.

The double bogey on the par-four meant he signed for an opening round five-under-par 66 which left him three back of American leader Troy Matteson (63) in the 48-man PGA Tour event co-sanctioned by their Asian and Malaysian counterparts.

His troubles on the last, however, put him level with Tiger Woods and the South African, who sits third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will partner the 14-times major winner in Friday's second round.

"It's a pity about the double, but it's the first round, it's not the last round. You've still got a lot of golf left," said Kruger, who won the Asian and European Tour's Avantha Masters in February.

"I think I can definitely go lower than I went today, but I can't really hit a lot better than that," the world number 181 added.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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