Friday, 06 May 2011
Thomas Aiken  (Getty Images)
Thomas Aiken (Getty Images)

A seven week break appears to have done South African Thomas Aiken no harm at all and he takes a one shot lead into the third round of the Open de España in Barcelona.

The 27 year old, who did not even touch a club during a month in the Bahamas, had his second successive 68 at El Prat to take over at the top from Scotland's Scott Jamieson.

"When I started (practising) again I thought 'what the hell have you done?' because everything felt so strange," said Aiken.

"I wasn't expecting much this week. I was using it to prepare for the rest of the season."

As in the first round Aiken - six times a winner in his home country, but yet to lift a European Tour title - made up for two bogeys with six birdies to stand eight under par.

Tour rookie Jamieson dropped to joint third by following his opening 66 with a 72, a much better score than looked likely when he bogeyed three of the first six holes.

In between them is Pablo Larrazábal, playing on his home course and seeking a victory that he will surely dedicate to Seve Ballesteros given the latest fears for the life of Spain's greatest-ever golfer.

“It’s been a hard day,” said Larrazábal. “I played a little bit better, but couldn’t hole as many putts as yesterday.

“I hit the ball solid but missed a few putts. I stayed patient and only tried to keep playing solid to be up there in the weekend.

“Today the course was playing a little bit shorter, but the greens were not as good at the end of the day. If the north-west wind starts blowing, the greens will get firmer and the course will be really challenging.

“My brother gave me the sad news about Seve at the recording. I belong to another generation and never actually saw Seve play, but his fight these last years has been an inspiration for us all.

“Although I was too young to watch him perform when he was at the top, I have seen all his films, and he was really spectacular, never giving up, hitting his driver and chasing the ball into the hole from everywhere.”

Jose Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who know the five-time Major Champion much better of course, were reportedly in tears and unable to speak after reaching halfway on level par and one under respectively, Olazábal showing Seve's fighting spirit with three birdies in the last four holes when he looked in danger of missing the cut. 

Alongside 27 year old Challenge Tour graduate Jamieson are England's Anthony Wall, Frenchman Romain Wattel and another of the home contingent, last season's Challenge Tour Number One Alvaro Velasco. His 66 was the low round of the day.

Jamieson commented: "I was happy to claw it back. More wind made it a bit tricky, but if you hit it well there are plenty of opportunities for birdies.

"I struggled with my pace on the greens all day."

Defending champion Alvaro Quiros missed out by one on two over par when he three-putted the last from ten feet.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-10
2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-8
T5DYSON, SimonENG18-6

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