Johannesburg – As Thomas Aiken heads abroad to play in the Dubai World Championship starting on Thursday, it will mark the end of another successful season on the European Tour for the South African golfer.
Fresh off a second successive third-place finish at the co-sanctioned South African Open on Sunday, Aiken looked back at a year of consistent performances.
“All in all, I've had a very consistent season,” he said after a final-round 67 to finish on 13 under, four behind Swedish winner Henrik Stenson.
“I've only missed four cuts the whole year on three tours – the US (PGA), the European and this tour (Sunshine) so I can't be too disappointed about that.”
Despite his good results, Aiken admitted he had battled on the greens.
“I haven't had too many fantastic rounds so it's been down to the putting. I haven't sunk as many putts as the last couple of years.
“I've hit the ball fantastically, given myself a lot of opportunities, but haven't capitalised on too many. Aiken got married and took time away from the game earlier in the season, and he managed to produce solid results on his return.
“It's been an interesting season. I took a lot of time off in the beginning of the season, I got married. I took two-and-a-half months off. “So I've played the least number of events this year, but I've played quite a lot leading up to this which has been quite tiring.”
The 29-year-old finished tied seventh at the British Open in July, and he said after that tournament his national Open was his favourite event.
“It's a tournament I desperately want to win”, he said. “It would be nice to come back and do that next year.”
Aiken was in the hunt for most of the British Open where compatriot Ernie Els prevailed, and he said winning a Major was one of his goals.
“I came close this year at The Open. That's definitely a goal – to win a Major in the next couple of years.
“Especially a British Open, I feel like I do nicely in that event. I've had two top 10's in The Open already and I've been close both times.”
Aiken secured his maiden European Tour win in the 2011 Spanish Open, and he said the only two older tournaments were now his targets.
“Winning an Open, winning a South African Open, having won the Spanish Open, the three oldest tournaments in the world, that would be nice.” Aiken said the competition among South Africans was especially high and he believed it had a positive effect on the growth of the local game.
“It's tough being a South African (professional on tour) at the moment. Our golfers are playing some fantastic golf.
“I hope we get more and more people playing golf and coming to watch.” – Sapa