12th July 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Solid Scottish start for Aiken as The Open looms
Thomas Aiken shrugged off ‘months of rust’ following four months of zero competitive golf to produce a seven-under-par 64 opening round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open as he tries to punch his way into the 149th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Teeing off the 10th, Aiken’s back-to-back pars seemed to be nothing but preparation for what was to come. Five birdies in the next six holes made it onto his card as he turned with a bogey-free 31. He went on to make three more birdies and a single drop on the way to his 64.
“I’ve been away from the game a little bit this year,” said the eight-time Sunshine Tour winner, “and the last few weeks have been a bit rusty. I’ve actually been away for four months, so it really has been quite a long time, and getting back into tournament golf after not playing for four months is tough because you kind of lose your competitive edge. I think it’s just kind of getting that rust off, and today felt a lot better.”
Aiken entered this Rolex Series event which is part of The Open qualifier series at the back of consecutive missed cuts – the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open and the Andalucia Masters – but is happy with the way things are going for him at the moment.
“I think the last two weeks, Valderrama, I played pretty well,” he said of those events in Spain and Ireland, “but just wasn’t quite there. And last week, again, I played fairly well for the first, I’d say, 20 holes, and then kind of fell apart at the end. I think playing your way back into things is definitely the way it goes, and it takes a bit of time. Luckily for me, it’s only taken two weeks.”
He is not exempt for next week’s Open Championship and while he has not said it, he knows a top-three finish will earn him a spot in the field for the oldest golf open championship in the world. Be that as it may, however, Aiken will not put any pressure on himself as there are three more rounds to play in Scotland.
“I think I stayed pretty patient out there,” he said. “Kind of didn’t let any emotions get the best of me. Just really focused on where I needed to position the ball, and I think that’s definitely key around here and I’m going to take that into the next three rounds. If I can keep hitting it the way I am, then I think we’re in for a good shout.”