Aiken’s great win achieved in shadow of Seve’s death

Thomas Aiken won his maiden European Tour title in the Open de España on Sunday, and dedicated it to the man who made the victory so significant all over the world, Seve Ballesteros.

Ballesteros, who died on Saturday, was the player on whom the influence was built that the European Tour now has on global golf.

And, on a personal level, many of the modern generation of players remember being thrilled by his wizardry as they grew up.

“I remember Seve, how he enjoyed life and how he enjoyed the game,” said Aiken after his two-stroke victory over Dane Anders Hansen at the Real Club de Golf El Prat in Barcelona.

“I definitely want to dedicate this win to him with it being his home open and what he gave to his home fans and to golf.

“He was everything to the game of golf and I am happy to have won for him – any of us would have won for him. He has been an inspiration for me and has kept me working hard,” he said amid the sadness expressed by so many players.

The tournament was also the last one Ballesteros ever won, so it captured the imagination of the world’s golf media.

Aiken, who has won seven times on the Sunshine Tour, has been knocking on the door for some years now on the European Tour, and had a superb run in the 2009 Open Championship when he shared eighth place behind Stewart Cink.

In winning the €333,330 first prize with a 10-under-par total of 278, he became the fourth South African to win on the European Tour this year – a list that includes major winners Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

Aiken started the year with seven consecutive weeks of tournament play in search of his maiden title, even forgoing cutting his hair until he got that first win.

He took a seven-week break after that, and quietly trimmed up after some time off and three weeks of practice to hone a minor adjustment to his swing.

The Open de España was his first tournament back in competitive action.

“I don’t think it’s quite hit home yet,” he added. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time and I’ve been knocking on the door. I’m ecstatic.”

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