Sunday, May 08, 2011


South African Thomas Aiken lifted his first European Tour title at the Open de España - and was quick to dedicate the win to three-time winner Seve Ballesteros.
"It's been a sad week with Seve passing away," he said. "I definitely want to dedicate this win to him with it being his home Open and what he gave to his home fans and to golf.
“He was everything to the game of golf and I am happy to have won for him - any of us would have won for him.
“I remember Seve, how he enjoyed life and how he enjoyed the game. He has been an inspiration for me and has kept me working hard.
“My first European Tour win has not been an easy week, very emotional.”
The 27-year-old from Johannesburg, playing his first tournament after a seven-week lay-off, shot a closing 70 at El Prat near Barcelona to beat Dane Anders Hansen by two.
Aiken took the first prize of €333,330 with a ten under par total of 278.
"I don't think it's quite hit home yet," he added. "I've been waiting for this for a long, long time and I've been knocking on the door. I'm ecstatic."
With all the players again wearing black ribbons in memory of the Spanish superstar, Aiken became the fifth South African to win on The European Tour already this season – Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel among them, of course.
He resumed two in front and doubled that with birdies at the second and sixth.
He added another on the short 11th and after failing to get up and down from sand at the 223 yard 13th he came straight back with a further birdie.
Three-putting the 15th cut his lead to three again and when he drove into sand down the 17th the outcome was still far from certain.
However, Aiken, six times a winner in his home country, saved par and finished with another.
Playing partner Hansen, never able to pile on the pressure, birdied the par five last to push Glasgow's Scott Jamieson and Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal into joint third.
“I played pretty good but he played solid and he got too far ahead,” said Hansen.
“He made the crucial putts and I didn’t. I gave it a run, but he played great and got the putts at the right time, that makes a huge difference.
“It was hard work for him up there, but he did well. He's been so close so many times and he deserves it. I am as happy as you can be in a second place.
“The news about Seve was awful. I only knew when I saw ‘Seve forever’ on 17 and I felt awful. He is one of the reasons I am here today. We loved watching him because he was so inspiring. I am really sad.”
For 27 year old rookie Jamieson it was the best of his three top-ten finishes already this year and he earned a cheque for €112,600.
Welshman Phillip Price and France's Gregory Havret both bogeyed the 18th to drop into a tie for fifth with strong-finishing Scot Paul Lawrie (six birdies-one bogey for a closing 67), England's Simon Dyson and David Horsey and Havret's compatriot Romain Wattel. Lawrie earned $58,267 for his second good performance in Spain over a matter of weeks (he won the Andalucia Open).
Jose Maria Olazábal, mourning the loss of his great friend and ex-Ryder Cup partner Ballesteros, managed only a 77 and fell outside the top 50 on eight over.
Aiken did not even touch a club during a month-long trip to the Bahamas and even with three weeks of practising at home after that he came with no great expectations.
Par 288 (4x72)
278 Thomas Aiken (S Africa) 68 68 72 70.
280 Anders Hansen (Denmark) 69 72 69 70.
281 Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) 67 70 73 71, Scott Jamieson (Scotland) 66 72 72 71 (112,600 Euros each).
282 Paul Lawrie (Scotland) 72 71 71 67, Simon Dyson (England) 75 67 72 68, Philip Price (Wales) 70 71 72 69, David Horsey (England) 71 70 71 70, Gregory Havret (France) 71 72 69 70, Romain Wattel (France) 67 71 72 72 (58,267 Euros each).

290 Colin Montgomerie 70 74 73 73 (T36), 13,800 Euros.
291 Peter Whiteford 73 72 73 73 (T41), 11,800 Euros.
294 Richie Ramsay 72 72 77 73, David Drysdale 71 72 71 79 (T50), 8,600 Euros each.
297 George Murray 72 73 77 75 (T49) 5,600 Euros.





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