ON SUNDAY Thomas Aiken sunk a birdie at the 18th hole of East London Golf Club in South Africa to clinch a playoff victory at the Africa Open Golf Challenge and lift his third European Tour trophy.
Aiken beat England’s Oliver Fisher in the play off after they both finished regulation play on 20 under par.
Since its inception in 2008 the Africa Open has not been won by a foreigner and Aiken, an eight-time Sunshine Tour winner, was determined to continue this trend. What made this victory special for Aiken is that his wife Katy caddied for him throughout the tournament after his regular caddy could not make the trip to South Africa.
Aiken follows an illustrious list of Africa Open champions with Major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Retief Goosen among previous title-holders. After a sensational nine-under-par 62 on Saturday, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo headed into the last 18 holes four shots clear of Aiken, but the magic he produced in his 62 was missing in the final round as he posted a two-over-par 73 to finish two shots behind Aiken and Fisher.
He led by two shots heading into the final round, but came undone at the first hole when he took three shots to get out of a greenside bunker before eventually walking off with a nine.
He recovered his round superbly and birdied his final five holes to finish tied fifth place alongside defending champion Darren Fichardt.Zimbabwe’s duo of Greg Bentley and Micky Hough failed to qualify for the tournament.