Catlin Cruises to Saudi Open Success

John Catlin completed a wire-to-wire win in the Saudi Open presented by PIF. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: John Catlin completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory in the US$1 million Saudi Open presented by PIF, for the first back-to-back win on the Asian Tour in five years.

The in-form American shot a final-round five-under-par 66 to finish on 24-under and win by seven shots from Australian Wade Ormsby.

Ormsby registered his best performance since winning the International Series Thailand in March of last year by carding a closing 64 at Riyadh Golf Club.

American Peter Uihlein finished strongly, shooting a 63 to share third place, nine shots behind the champion, with Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who returned a 67.

Catlin, who won last month’s International Series Macau presented by Wynn, came agonisingly close to becoming the first player to complete 72 holes bogey-free on the Asian Tour. He missed a seven-foot par putt on 14, much to the disappointment of everyone looking on.

Last month he did write his name into the Asian Tour history books by becoming the first player to shoot a 59, in the third round in Macau.

The victory here, which earned him a cheque for US$180,000, saw him overtake Spaniard David Puig at the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Puig closed with a 67 to finish in sole possession of fifth, 10 back from Catlin.

Catlin becomes the first player to win successive events on the Asian Tour since Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond in 2019, when he claimed the Indonesian Masters and Thailand Masters.

“I am tired, but very, very happy,” said 32-year-old Catlin, after his sixth victory on the Asian Tour.

“I’ve never gone back-to-back like that. It is pretty special to finish back-to-back events holding the hardware. It was a special week and I feel very lucky to be the champion.”

The American started the day with an eight-shot lead and was never challenged.

He said: “I kept telling myself to stay right in the present. The brain always wants to think about what might happen, or what could happen, and you just keep hitting the shot in front of you. And I just kept doing that, just kept telling myself over and over again” ‘Stay in the present. Keep staying in the present, keep executing this golf shot. I was able to do it.”

Three of Catlin’s wins on the Asian Tour came in his breakthrough year in 2018. However, he finished sixth on the Order of Merit, something which is now clearly within range this year.

“It will definitely be on my mind. It would be a nice feather to add to the cap. There have been a lot of great Order of Merit champions, and I would be honoured to be able to be among them,” he added.

Thai amateur prodigy Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat, playing in his final Asian Tour event before heading off to start his first year at Stanford University, signed off with a 71 to tie for 33rd.

The Asian Tour has a week off now before heading to the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Korea. The tournament, won last year by Korean Jung Chan-min, will be played at Namseoul Country Club from May 2-5.

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