Africa Open: Thomas Aiken beats Oliver Fisher at first hole of play-off to win on home soil
Last Updated: 16/02/14 11:38pm
Thomas Aiken: Claimed first title on home soil after winning play-off
South Africa's Thomas Aiken beat Oliver Fisher at the first hole of a play-off to win the Africa Open in East London - his first career triumph on home soil.
Aiken (67) and Fisher (69) finished tied together on 20-under-par after 72 holes, although the Englishman saw a putt for victory just slide past the cup on his final hole in regulation.
(SA unless stated)
-20 T Aiken *
-20 O Fisher (Eng)
-19 J Hahn (US)
-19 D Horsey (Eng)
* Won at first hole of a play-off
Click here for collated scores
That meant the duo went down the par-four 18th for a second time to decide the tournament and, with Fisher facing a 12-foot putt for par, Aiken stepped in to seal victory in style by rolling home from 40 feet for a birdie-three.
It was the 30-year-old's third European Tour victory and maintained South Africa's dominance of the event with home players having won it on each of the five occasions it has been held since becoming sanctioned by the European circuit.
But while there was joy for Aiken, there was despair for overnight leader Emiliano Grillo (73) who saw his hopes go up in smoke after a carding a nine at the par-four first hole.
The young Argentine needed seven shots to get on the green after taking a penalty drop and then coming to grief in a bunker, before missing a five-footer for a quadruple-bogey.
However, he showed admirable spirit to finish with five straight birdies as he eventually ended in a tie for fifth with Jaco Van Zyl (65), Darren Fichardt (66) and Richard Bland (69).
England's David Horsey posted an excellent closing 65 to finish just one-shot adrift in third alongside American rookie John Hahn (68).
"I've been waiting for this for quite some time. I've won a couple of time overseas, but there's nothing quite like winning in front of a home crowd."
A delighted Aiken - who had wife Kate on his bag as caddie - said afterwards: "I've been waiting for this for quite some time. I've won a couple of times overseas, but there's nothing quite like winning in front of a home crowd.
"The South African fans have been unbelievable throughout my whole career and it's so nice to finally get one for your guys.
"You've got to think your way around this golf course, it's not just get up on every tee and hit driver.
"It's very much a strategic golf course and I always love coming back here, I've done well the last four years and it's so great to finally get this trophy under my belt."