Birthday boy Thomas wants Open present

Thomas Aiken celebrates his birthday today, and the Claret Jug would be a perfect prize. That may be a bit of a stretch for the 30-year-old, but the stars are aligned for his birthday week.


Since winning the Avantha Masters in March Aiken has been quiet on the golfing scene, but his history at The Open is nothing to be scoffed at.


In his six starts at the oldest major, Aiken has missed just two cuts, and that’s due largely to his affinity for tough conditions. Last year at the Africa Open he dominated at the windy East London Golf Club, finishing second to Louis Oosthuizen.


While Ernie Els soaked up the glory at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Aiken managed his way to seventh, carding no worse than 72 during the week.


It’s that consistent, head down type of golf that makes Aiken a contender on Links courses. Muirfield has seen the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson become Open Champions, and that's because the test is as tough as it gets. The course demands pure shots and mental strength.


But Aiken is a multiple European and Sunshine Tour champion who's played across the globe. He's been winning since earning the title of South African Amateur of the Year in 2001, a year in which he won 10 tournaments. 


That’s a far cry from The Open, but the birthday boy is a dogged fighter and it shows in his results. At Turnberry in 2009 he shot 69 on both Saturday and Sunday to finish eighth, three strokes back from winner Stewart Cink.


And last year he carded two rounds of 68 before the cut. That weekend back in 2012 had torrid weather, yet Aiken managed a Saturday 71 and had a chance (however small) of coming home the Open Champion.


While the magnitude of The Open is impossible for any golfer to escape, Aiken has played it six times and heads to Muirfield as a 30-year-old with a solid game and his head screwed on straight. With his birthday confidence boost he’ll surely pop up on that leaderboard this week.


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