Thomas Aiken should take vacations more often.
Aiken, playing in a field that was mourning the loss of the legendary Seve Ballesteros, cleared the field by two strokes to win the Spanish Open despite not having played in a tournament in seven weeks.
Aiken was quick to dedicate his victory to Ballesteros. He told europeantour.com:
“It’s been a sad week with Seve passing away,” he said. “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.”
Our Alex Miceli visited with Aiken prior to his long vacation, giving a bit of insight into why he needed some time off and whether or not we’ll see more of him on American soil.
Thomas Aiken first came on my radar screen at the WGC-CA Championship in 2009. He was playing well, eventually finishing T-7, a pretty big week for the young South African.
So when he was at Doral this year we talked a little about his game and what his plans were. That’s when he told me he was taking seven weeks off and not returning until May to play in Spain.
“I haven’t had a holiday in four years or so because the European Tour pretty much finishes end of November, and then starts up in South Africa again in December,” Aiken said of how his schedule has been dedicated by circumstances. “You want to play your events in your home country, it ends up meaning that you don’t get a break at the end of the year, you get nine days over Christmas, so I have been playing for four years now without taking a bit of a vacation.”
The plan was to put the clubs away for two or three weeks and then start working on physical training before picking the clubs back up again. But he made it clear he couldn’t stay away from the clubs too long.
Aiken still needed to prepare for a tough stretch out of the gate.
“Starting the first week of May in Spain and then I got PGA Wentworth, which is our flagship event and then hopefully coming back over to the states for the Memorial,” Aiken said. “I enjoy playing over (in the United States), I like it, the crowds are great and the weather’s like back home and I played a lot of amateur and junior golf over here growing up so I feel quite at home over here.”
Aiken, who is good friends with Tim Clark, said he would entertain taking his card on the PGA Tour if he earned enough money and didn’t have to go to Q-School.
“I think it’s important to play all over the world because golf’s a growing game and I like to support it in various different countries,” Aiken said. “So I would love to play over here more and then play a few in European a few in Asia just to try and broaden the spectrum a bit. “