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July 19, 2012

Thomas Aiken


Q.  Can you reflect on that start?
THOMAS AIKEN:¬† The start was good.¬† I played very solid the first nine holes.¬† Hit the ball in pretty much perfect position on every hole.¬† Gave myself some good chances.¬† Capitalised on three of them.¬† I was very happy with the play up until the 14th hole.¬† I mean, it kind of‑‑ the first 18 holes you can position your ball and go from there, but the last couple are so tough that it kind of forces you to take them on and squeeze them through the bunkers, which unfortunately I didn't do.
But I had a few miraculous things happen.  14 I didn't hit too bad a tee shot and just got a terrible lie in the rough.  Wedged it out and hit a pretty good pitch up to about 10 foot and hit the putt and it just missed.
Then on 15 slightly missed the line off the tee and found the thick rough again and hit a lob wedge out and unfortunately it rolled off the middle of the fairway into one of those bunkers.¬† I hit it out of the bunker and then had one of those shots that you don't have often, I holed a 50‑yard pitch shot.¬† So I kind of got the momentum going again.
And then 16's a risk and reward hole.¬† It's a great hole.¬† You feel like you could take it on.¬† And I thought with the flag being front right, if you just hit it anywhere down there on the left‑hand side you've got half a chance.¬† If you do hit it in the thick stuff, it's very thick.¬† But unfortunately I missed on the wrong side of the tee.¬† I hit it right and hit in the very thick stuff.¬† And yeah, I had to hit a full swing again with a lob wedge and luckily it just came out perfect and pitched just over the one bunker and ran past the other one, onto the green, and sunk a nice long putt there for birdie. ¬†It was kind of miraculous, those two holes.
It got the blood flowing, which I was trying to get calm now, it's only Thursday (laughing).
And then 17 I hit my tee shot slightly left into the bunker.¬† Some of the bunkers are pretty wet out here, and when they rake them the sand kind of clots on top.¬† And I funny enough had a lie that I probably‑‑ I had a bad lie, but I hit it into a position of the bunker where if the bunker was normal I could hit it on the green.¬† But in that case I tried to hit a blasting wedge shot out to the right and didn't quite catch it, and it ended up going back into the thick stuff again.¬† And just hacked it out again with a wedge short right and got up and down again for bogey.
So I just kept the momentum going.  I think that was the key thing on those last couple of holes.  The golf wasn't that pretty, except for the last hole I hit a great tee shot and hit a good second shot and hit a great putt and it just lipped out.
But all in all I'm really happy with the round.  The first 13 holes were fantastic.  The last five not what I'd want again.  But it's a great start.  It's only Thursday on a brutal golf course.  Just keep putting the ball in position and giving yourself chances and see where you are come Sunday.

Q.  People were talking about the conditions and how benign they were.  Is that your assessment?
THOMAS AIKEN:¬† Yeah, I'm not going to say anything, because I don't want it to get worse.¬† But the wind wasn't blowing much.¬† At most you'd have a club‑‑ the shorter irons a club and a half.¬† But, yeah, I mean there's not much wind.¬† There's no rain.¬† Temperature is pretty decent.¬† It's not too cold.¬† But that rough is munchy.¬† So it's one of those golf courses you can score around it today if you play really good golf.
If you look at the scores, one 6‑under par, that's doable, but you've got to hit every single shot pure.¬† Adam probably had a great round today.¬† Seems like the next bunchis around ‑‑ there's two at 5, but there's a couple at 3.¬† And it just shows, that's as easy as the golf course is going to play, and those are as low as the scores are going to go, and especially on a Thursday.
So hopefully the weather stays the way it is because the course is really set up tough.  It's extremely challenging out there with the rough being the way it is.  Not really what we're used to at most of the Opens.  You do get the long stuff, but it's more wispy and a little bit drier.  This is quite thick and wet.  So you really can't hit much more than a wedge out of it.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
THOMAS AIKEN:  What was the pick?

Q.  Yeah.
THOMAS AIKEN:¬† 4.¬† 5 I hit a great tee shot on the par‑3.¬† I can't really pick them, because 5 was a good birdie and 6 was just a hallelujah putt.¬† I mean, 6 is a tough hole.¬† I hit two great shots.¬† Second was on an upslope and I just didn't want to take the flag on, so hit it front edge and just sunk a hallelujah.
7 I hit it great.¬† 7 I hit it on the green in two and two‑putted.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
THOMAS AIKEN:¬† 3‑wood.¬† Almost 600 yards, not going to go into there with much less with the wind.

Q.  I'm sorry, the 5th?
THOMAS AIKEN:¬† A 5‑iron.

Q.  To what distance?
THOMAS AIKEN:  Probably about seven foot.  So, yeah, I hit some really good shots on the front nine.

Q.  Hallelujah putt, how long is that?
THOMAS AIKEN:  Hallelujah.  However many paces the flag was on.  I think it was about 27 or something.  A long putt.  Longest one I've sunk in about six years.

Q.  And 16?
THOMAS AIKEN:  No, nowhere near that long.  Probably about 35 foot.  But still long.  Yeah, and it was a good day.  It was a good day.  Hopefully the others will be less enthralling on the last few holes but more like the first nine.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
THOMAS AIKEN:  I saw Ernie up there.  I haven't really seen much else, but record of 14 South Africans this year.  Hopefully we can bring that Claret Jug back to South Africa again.

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