Cape Town - Thomas Aiken heads to Royal Cape Golf Club on the back of four weeks playing the Finals Series of the European Tour, but he’s ready to compete now that his feet are back on South African soil.
“I had a long end to the season with Turkey, China and Dubai over the last few weeks, but I’m feeling nice and fresh, funnily enough. Coming back to SA always refreshes your mind and being home makes you feel more comfortable,” he said.
The three-time European Tour winner was drawn to the Mother City for this week’s R1,5-million tournament and is joined by fellow stars George Coetzee, Branden Grace and Jbe’ Kruger.
“It’s very nice to be back,” Aiken told the sunshinetour.com.
“It’s been a long while – the 2002 Vodacom Players Championship was the last time I was at Royal Cape. The Cape Town locals always support golf really well, so hopefully we’ll see a lot of them coming to walk around.”
South African golfing legend David Frost and Scotland’s David Drysdale also join the field this week, while Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Danie van Tonder heads up the local squad.
All 156 competitors will tackle South Africa’s oldest course in the hopes of winning. The victor gets more than a big cheque – the best player in Cape Town earns a place at the prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge next week.
“There’s a spot at the Million Dollar up for grabs,” Aiken said. “It’s an event that I’ve always wanted to play and I’ve watched it since I was a kid. It’s the biggest tournament of the year in South Africa and hopefully I can get that spot.”
The 31-year-old kept that in the back of his mind as he looked ahead to the week. His win at the Africa Open earlier this year was a perfect start to the season, but he did not turn that hot start into the year he wanted.
“It’s been a few years where I’ll get one win under the belt but not push on from that. We’re quite critical of ourselves and there’s always a point where you say ‘I should have done better,’ but my season at a whole is good. When you’ve won once and made it to the Tour Championship you can’t be too down on yourself,” he said.
All of that could change over the next 72 competitive holes that he plays. The rough is up and the course is in prime condition, which means tee to green play is crucial. That style of golf is Aiken’s bread and butter and this week could well turn his season into something special.
"The aim for the next 12 months is to become a multiple winner and to break into the top 50 in the world. It’s a good challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.