Nearly every interview begins the same way at Leopard Creek: with rave reviews about how magnificent the setting is. Thomas Aiken was one such interviewee, and relished his return to the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
ÂItÂs always nice to be back here. I think this is most peopleÂs favourite venue of the year. Last tournament of the season, last tournament of the year, second tournament of the European Tour, so itÂs always a fun week,Â he said.
The ante has been upped by an impressive Â500,000 this year and the field is strong as ever. That means world ranking points come aplenty, and for Aiken itÂs a chance to move back into the top 100 before the year is up.
ÂItÂs been a long year this year, and itÂs weird to start the new season in 2012, but IÂm looking forward to having a crack at it. IÂm really keen for the next five days!Â Said Aiken.
Local support, course knowledge and the confidence that comes from playing on home soil will all play a factor this week. The 2011 Open de Espana winner knew the benefit of playing at home, and added:
ÂIt feels good out there. Thank goodness the heat stayed away, because it can get pretty hot out here! Staying on site, seeing people you know, and playing a course thatÂs always in immaculate condition means that youÂre going to have a good week.Â