While local golf fans have all but anointed Danie van Tonder the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit winner for 2014, Thomas Aiken is one of two golfers who believes the race is still wide open.
Aiken has won R3,269,987 in his five Sunshine Tour tournaments so far, just R148,590 behind Van Tonder. And George Coetzee sits on R3,299,544 from six tournament. So it’s clearly very much game on in the race for the Sid Brews trophy which goes to the winner – as well as for the various playing opportunities winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit brings with it.
“The Order of Merit is always something I’ve wanted to win, especially over the last few years” said Aiken after cranking out a second-round six-under-par 66 in the R800,000 BMG Classic to move himself to four-under for the tournament. “I’ve some close on a few occasions in my career, but it’s been difficult to prepare for it because I haven’t been able to play some of the tournaments back home in South Africa.”
That’s all changed for Aiken with the shifting of the South African Open Championship to January 8 next year and the Cape Town Open’s move to November 27-30.
“The guys who were trying to keep their positions in Europe can now play the Cape Town Open, so I’ve still got a good chance of securing the Order of Merit,” said Aiken.
Chasing down Van Tonder won’t be plain sailing: The 2012 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year has won twice and finished another nine times inside the top 10 in his 18 starts. He’s missed just one cut, and only been outside the top 20 four times. And he’s a man with a mission: “If I play well, I’m going to be hard to beat,” he said.
And, like Aiken, he carded a six-under 66 in the second round of the BMG Classic to go to eight-under for the tournament, three off the lead. “I’m not playing badly,” he said without a hint of irony. “I’m not scared of anyone.”
Aiken has let the dream of winning the Order of Merit slip to the back-burner since he won the Africa Open. “At the beginning of the year, it was a priority, and I had other priorities during my overseas campaign,” he said. “But we all still have a chance, and now I’m here to try to win it.”