Wednesday 22 November 2017

Flawless 64 puts Aiken on top in Africa

SOUTH African Thomas Aiken set a clubhouse target that proved impossible to match on the opening day of the Africa Open in East London.

Aiken was in the first group out from the ninth tee at 6:30am local time and carded a superb first round of 64, nine under par, to finish one shot ahead of playing partner Retief Goosen and Jaco Ahlers.

Compatriots Michael Du Toit and Dean O'Riley were a shot further back after rounds of 66, with Welshman Phillip Price the only non-South African in the top six after the former Ryder Cup star also carded a 66.

Aiken opened with two pars before making an eagle three on the 11th and then closing out his front nine with birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th.

Another eagle arrived at the par-five third after a stunning approach to just two feet, and Aiken picked up two more birdies in a flawless round on the fifth and sixth.

"I wasn't really expecting that after two weeks without touching a club," Aiken said.

"It was a great morning this morning, early start and the scoring conditions were good. It was out there for the taking and luckily I hit some really good shots and made putts.

"I really enjoyed the round today; this is not the longest course, but it bites if you go askew. Anything off line on this course is pretty much a reload off the tee, which makes it a thinking man's course.

"There are a lot of risk-and-reward holes -- a couple of driveable par fours and tricky par threes -- and I think that a lot of new courses lack that challenge."

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