Aiken hoping to inspire more SA sporting success
In the past 12 days, South African sport has celebrated a Major champion in golf, a test victory over England in cricket, and three gold medals at the Olympic Games. And professional golfer Thomas Aiken is hoping to inspire further sporting success in the future.
Aiken is a major supporter of South African junior golf through his sponsorship of a tournament on the Glacier by Sanlam Junior Series.
The series is the recognised breeding ground of future golf talent in this country, giving junior golfers the opportunity to compete against each other nationwide. The winners of each event qualify for the National Final in October, and the winner here claims an all-expenses paid trip from Glacier by Sanlam to compete in the Orange Bowl Invitational, junior golf’s biggest and most prestigious tournament in the United States, later this year.
Aiken’s tournament will be played at the Wanderers Golf Club this Sunday.
“It’s important for our juniors to have a platform like the Glacier Junior Series where they can compete, and it’s vital for our golf so that we can keep producing top golfers on the international stage,” said Aiken, who is still revelling in his seventh place finish in the Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
“We’ve had some fantastic golfers in the past, starting with Gary Player and Bobby Locke, then moving on to Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, and now you’ve got Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. There are so many good golfers coming out of this country, and it’s so great to see them coming through the ranks.”
South Africans have now won three of the last nine Majors, a fact not lost on a patriotic Aiken.
“We’re a small golf-playing nation, so to have so many players who have won Majors, that’s a phenomenal achievement.
“But without competition you can’t improve, and you need that experience under pressure to become a better golfer. Playing in these junior events helped us to push each other to the next level.”