Aiken seals Avantha win with a kiss

Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 2:11pm

Thomas Aiken ensured South Africa continued to dominate the European Tour events after claiming victory by three shots at the Avantha Masters in India Sunday

Aiken sealed the top prize of $392,000 after seeing off local favorite Gaganjeet Bhullar at the Greg Norman-designed par-72 Jaypee Greens outside New Delhi.

The 29-year-old is the sixth South African to win a European tour event this year following Charl Schwartzel's victory at the Alfred Dunhill championships, Louis Oosthuizen's win at the Volvo Golf Champions, Richard Sterne's success in Johannesburg, Darren Fichardt's triumph at the Africa Open and Dawie Van der Walt's effort at the Tshwane Open.

Aiken, who is from Johannesburg, held off the challenge of Bhullar, who birdied the first three holes, had an eagle on the fifth before a spectacular finish saw him birdie three of the last five holes.

"It's a big relief to win because the others played unbelievable golf," 2011 Open de Espana winner Aiken told reporters.

"There was no breathing space the whole day with Gaganjeet having so many birdies towards the end.

"It was no walk in the park, but I think I played the par-fives well. This has been a fantastic week in India and ended just the way I wanted it to."

The home supporters had hoped Bhullar could give them something to celebrate, but despite being roared on by around 500 fans, he was unable to catch Aiken at the top of the leaderboard.

"After a few weeks, no one will remember that I came second. Everyone will only talk of Thomas," he told reporters.

"But the important thing is that my game has improved.

"This tournament was like a putting competition. Everyone was hitting the ball long, it all depended on how you putted. I thought Thomas would make a mistake somewhere, but he played solidly the last two days."

Elsewhere, Prayad Marksaeng became only the third Thai to win his country's national championship after claiming a two-stroke win to claim the $180,000 top prize at the Thailand Open Sunday.

"This means so much to me," Prayad said, according to a statement by the tournament organizers.

"Yes I cried a bit... I am happy the King's Trophy will stay in Thailand."

Prayad jumped into the lake by the 18th green in celebration after carding 24-under-par for the tournament.

 

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