Aiken eludes Fisher in East London

2/16/2014 2:09:00 PM
Thomas and Kate Aiken  (Getty Images)
Thomas and Kate Aiken (Getty Images)
Thomas Aiken overcame Oliver Fisher in a play-off to secure victory in the Africa Open and cap a fine run of form.

The South African secured his third European Tour title and first on home soil with a 30 foot birdie putt on the first extra hole at East London Golf Club.

An eagle from 12 feet at the third had been the highlight of Aiken’s 67, as he and Fisher spent much of the afternoon neck-and-neck.

The Englishman had started with a bogey after missing the opening green, but responded with five gains amidst two further dropped shots and would have won had his birdie effort from 15 feet at the last dropped rather than burn the edge of the hole.

“I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time; I’ve won a couple of times overseas, but there is nothing like winning in front of a home crowd,” said Aiken, who finished fifth in his last two events and has already recorded six top-20 finishes on the 2014 Race to Dubai.

“The South African fans have been unbelievable throughout my whole career so it’s nice to finally get one for you guys.”

Aiken had wife Kate on the bag for the first time, and added: “Thanks so much to my wife, who helped me on the bag for the first time – we might have to do it again!

“East London Golf Club, what a fantastic golf club. It shows that a course doesn’t need to be long for it to play interestingly. 

“I always love coming back here, and it’s so great to finally get this trophy under my belt.”

Aiken joins compatriots Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen (twice) and Darren Fichardt in lifting the trophy, which has yet to be prized from South African hands.

England's David Horsey birdied four of his last six holes to shoot a final round of 65 and claim a share of third place on 19 under alongside American John Hahn.

Overnight leader Emiliano Grillo was in a four strong group a shot further back after gains at the last five holes repaired some of the damage of a quintuple-bogey nine on the opening hole.

Grillo held a two shot lead thanks to a brilliant 62 on Saturday, yet the 21 year old Argentinian had already taken a penalty drop from an unplayable lie when he chipped his fourth shot into a greenside bunker, from where he needed two attempts to escape.

But his sixth shot had rolled back off the green and, after chipping up to seven feet, he needed two putts to complete an extraordinary opening hole and drop his first stroke since his 15th hole on Thursday.