TERRASSA, Spain – Thomas Aiken earned his first European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the Spanish Open on Sunday, and promptly dedicated the victory to golf great Seve Ballesteros.
The South African player shot a 2-under 70 on the El Prat course for a 10-under total of 278 to edge Anders Hansen (70) of Denmark.
Ballesteros died on Saturday from complications of a cancerous brain tumor. Aiken says the 54-year-old Spaniard, who won the Spanish Open three times, was “everything to the game of golf and I am happy to have won for him.”
Scott Jamieson (71) of Scotland and Spanish player Pablo Larrazabal (71) were another shot back in third.
Ballesteros, the Spanish five-time major winner, died on Saturday at age 54 from complications from a cancerous brain tumor.
“It’s been a sad week with Seve passing away. 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,” the 27-year-old Aiken said. “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.”
Ballesteros revolutionized European golf with his Ryder Cup performances and record 50 European Tour triumphs – which included three Spanish Open titles.
“I remember Seve, how he enjoyed life and how he enjoyed the game,” Aiken said. “He has been an inspiration for me and has kept me working hard.”
Aiken went into the final round enjoying a two-shot advantage and carded birdies at holes 2, 6 and 11 to extend his lead.
He wobbled a bit with two bogeys and one birdie from there, but closed out the round with three straight pars to take home more than $450,000.
Hansen started with eight straight pars to fall four shots behind, and his three birdies were offset by a lone bogey on the 13th.
“He made the crucial putts and I didn’t,” Hansen said. “I gave it a run, but he played great and got the putts at the right time, that makes a huge difference.”
Aiken is the fifth South African to win an event this season, including Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Scott Jamieson (71) of Scotland and Spanish player Pablo Larrazabal (71) were another shot back in third while another six players finished four behind the first-time winner.
Jose Maria Olazabal’s emotional weekend ended with a 77 to finish 18 shots back in 56th. Olazabal and Ballesteros were the Ryder Cup’s most successful pairing, and the Spanish player wept openly on Saturday after his friend’s death.