18 March 2013
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken captured the second European Tour title of his career on Sunday, winning by three shots in the Avantha Masters at the Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort in New Delhi, India.
“I played phenomenal golf, just two bogeys all week, and overall I’m just very pleased with the way I played,” he said in an interview on the 18th green after he had sealed victory in the event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Later, he wrote on his website: “The way I won my second tournament on the European Tour gave me fantastic satisfaction. I was really pleased with the way I handled the final round having started with a three-shot lead and eventually taking the Avantha Masters by the same margin.”
Apart from his two European Tour wins, Aiken has won seven times on the Sunshine Tour and added a win on the Asian Tour win with his victory on Sunday.
He was the second South African winner of the tournament in succession, following in the footsteps of Jbe Kruger. Aiken was also the sixth South African winner so far this season on the European Tour in just 12 tournaments, but the first to record a victory outside of South Africa.
He was 15-under-par for the last two rounds, after a tournament best 10-under-par 62 in the third round, which was a combination of great approach play and a red-hot putter.
‘I’ve been playing very nicely’
“I’ve been playing very nicely the last four months, not making a lot of mistakes, but just not sinking enough putts,” Aiken said.
“This week a few went in. I hit some better iron shots, which gave me a better chance to sink some putts, and I played some phenomenal golf.”
Gaganjeet Bhullar bagged an eagle and two birdies within the first five holes and went on to post a final round best of eight-under-par 64. It was enough to secure second place, but he was still three shots adrift of Aiken.
The South African’s playing partner Wenchong Liang started well with three early birdies, but a double drop on the sixth was a setback. A hole-in-one on the very next hole put the Chinese player back on track, but two bogeys on the inward nine undermined his challenge and he closed with a three-under-par 69.
“These guys kept coming at me today – Liang on the front nine and then Bhullar made some amazing birdies coming in. It was by no means a walk in the park,” Aiken reckoned.
Defending champion Jbe Kruger, the only other South African in the tournament, missed the cut after successive round of level-par 72.
- 265 Thomas Aiken (RSA) (-23) 67, 69, 62, 67
- 268 Bhullar Gaganjeet (Ind) (-20) 68, 69, 67, 64/li>
- 270 Wenchong Liang (Chn) (-18) 66, 66, 69, 69
- 271 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) (-17) 68, 68, 66, 68
- 272 Seuk-hyun Baek (Kor) (-16) 68, 68, 70, 66
- 273 David Drysdale (Sco) (-15) 67, 67, 68, 71
- 273 David Horsey (Eng) (-15) 72, 68, 66, 67
- 273 Scott Hend (Aus) (-15) 67, 68, 68, 70
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