Thomas Aiken kept the Africa Open in South African hands – and his temporary caddie very happy – by defeating England’s Oliver Fisher in a play-off to claim his third European Tour title yesterday.
Ireland’s Damien McGrane shot a superb final round 65 to finish just four shots off the leaders.
Aiken birdied the first extra hole at East London Golf Club after he and Fisher had finished tied on 20 under par, joining compatriots Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen (twice) and Darren Fichardt in lifting the trophy.
Fisher narrowly failed with a birdie putt on the 18th to win in regulation, but then missed the green when the players returned to the same hole for the play-off and was facing a 15ft par attempt before Aiken made sure of victory by holing from 35ft.
It was the 30-year-old’s first European Tour win on home soil after previous victories in Spain and India, not to mention the first with his wife Kate acting as his caddie, with his regular bagman in America on business.
“I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time,” said Aiken, who was second to Schwartzel in the inaugural Africa Open in 2010.
“I have won a couple of times overseas but there is nothing like winning in front of a home crowd.
“Thanks so much to my wife who helped me on the bag this week for the first time; this could be a bit of trouble because we might have to do it again!”
As well as finishing runner-up in 2010, Aiken had recorded three top-15 finishes at East London and praised the undulating layout, which at 6,632 yards is the shortest on the European Tour. “East London is a fantastic golf club, it’s an old club and it just shows a course doesn’t need to be long for it to play interestingly,” Aiken added. “You have to think your way around this golf course, it’s not just get up on every tee and hit driver.
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