Plucky Aiken holds firm for three-stroke victory in India

March 18, 2013 - 4:30:05 am



Thomas Aiken of South Africa poses with the trophy after winning the Avantha Masters in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, yesterday. 

NEW DELHI: South African Thomas Aiken held firm against a spirited challenge by local favourite Gaganjeet Bhullar to win his second European Tour title at the Avantha Masters in New Delhi yesterday.

The 29-year-old from Johannesburg, who took a three-stroke lead into the final round, won by the same margin with a four-day 23-under-par total of 265 at the Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort.

Bhullar’s eight-under-par 64 ensured he finished a creditable second while Liang Wenchong of China finished five shots behind the leader.

“I’ve been playing very nicely the last four months, not making a lot of mistakes, but just not sinking enough putts,” Aiken, whose 10-under-par 62 in the third round, set up his victory, told the European Tour website (www.europeantour.com).

“This week a few went in, I hit some better iron shots which gave me a better chance to sink some putts, and I played some phenomenal golf.” India’s Bhullar, 24, came out all guns blazing with birdies on the first three holes and an eagle on the fifth and kept the pressure up on Aiken till the close.

Aiken’s playing partner Liang was also quick off the blocks with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes but the highlight of his round came with a hole-in-one at the seventh.

The South African, however, kept his nerve and maintained the gap to the chasers with a bogey-free card of five-under-par 67 at the co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour.

“These guys kept coming at me today... Liang on the front nine and then Bhullar made some amazing birdies coming in,” Aiken added. “It was by no means a walk in the park.

“I want to dedicate this to my wife Kate... being the wife of a sportsman is not easy and she supports me so much, so this one’s for you Kate.” REUTERS



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