RESILIENT CATLIN WINS INTERNATIONAL SERIES MACAU PRESENTED BY WYNN AFTER HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE WITH PUIG

22 Mar 2024
(Macau, 17 March 2024) John Catlin claimed the International Series Macau presented by Wynn today after a monumental finish to the inaugural event, that saw the irrepressible American beat David Puig on the second hole of a wild sudden-death play-off.

Catlin, who shot an 11-under-par 59 yesterday to become the first player to break 60 on the Asian Tour, backed that up today with a typically tenacious performance – which culminated in him winning after getting up and down for a birdie four on 18, after Puig missed his four from five feet.

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John Catlin pictured with the winner’s trophy after round four on 17 March, 2024, at the International Series Macau presented by Wynn, at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Picture by Asian Tour.

The pair had ended the tournament tied on 23-under with Catlin shooting 65 and Puig 60, while Australian Lucas Herbert returned a 64 to finish third, two shots behind. Patrick Reed from the United Sates secured fourth, one stroke further back, following a 63.

This is Catlin’s fifth victory on the Asian Tour, and first since the 2019 Thailand Open – which also came after a play-off – plus first success on The International Series, and it came after an unexpectedly close finish.

Catlin had a two-stroke lead at the start of the day and put one hand on the trophy when he went out in four-under-par 30 – thanks to three birdies in a row from the fourth and another birdie on nine – for a four-shot advantage at the turn. A birdie at 10 then extended his lead to five.

However, he dropped a shot on 11 before Puig, playing four groups ahead, made a late charge. He emerged from the chasing pack and moved to within two when he birdied 12 and eagled 13, both par fives. The Spaniard then made a birdie on the 15th to sit one back before drawing level with another birdie on 16.

Catlin made a clutch eight-foot birdie putt on the par-three 14th to slide one ahead, but Puig draw level once again when he got up and down for a birdie on the par-five 18th.

On the par-three 17th, Catlin appeared to be in trouble after missing the green with his tee shot. He chipped to nine feet, but once again rose to the challenge and drained the putt, meaning he needed to birdie the last to win.

The final hole has seen birdies and eagles all week and Catlin was hot favourite to win in normal time, especially the way he was putting. However, after chipping to five feet he missed his putt for birdie to the disbelief of everyone watching.

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John Catlin celebrates winning the play-off on the 18th green against David Puig, during round four on 17 March, 2024, at the International Series Macau presented by Wynn, at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Picture by Asian Tour.

On the first play-off hole, the tournament appeared to be going Puig’s way when Catlin’s second shot, with a fairway wood, sailed past the right side of the green and looked to be heading out of bounds. Fortunately, his ball came to rest on the road behind the main hospitality marquee and from there he was able to take a free drop.

As that was happening Puig sensationally nearly made an eagle after his bunker shot from 20 yards hit the pin. It left him with a tap in for birdie.

Catlin had to negotiate a difficult chip, with little green to work with, and left himself much to do after leaving himself with a tricky six-foot putt.

But putting the memory of his miss moments earlier behind him, he confidently made the putt to keep the play-off alive.

The next time round Puig again had the upper hand when he found the putting surface in two, although he faced a long-range putt, while Catlin’s second shot missed the green on the right leaving another awkward chip.

Surprisingly, Puig’s first attempt was not up to his usual standard while his American opponent, sensing an opportunity, took the pin out and nearly holed out. After Puig missed his putt, Catlin was left with an easy tap in for an epic victory.

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John Catlin celebrates winning the play-off on the 18th green against David Puig during round four on 17 March, 2024, at the International Series Macau presented by Wynn, at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Picture by Asian Tour.

“We made that a little more difficult than we had to,” said Catlin to caddie Barry Cornwall immediately after holing the winning putt.

As well as winning the Thailand Open in extra time he won the 2021 Austrian Open on the DP World Tour in overtime. He’s never lost in a sudden-death play-off and he’s always won if he’s held the third-round lead.

“Still hasn’t quite sunk in, and that was one heck of a battle,” said the 33-year-old Californian.

“I mean, if you had told me I would finish minus 23 on the tournament, and I still have to be in a play-off, I’d be like, you’re kidding. But I mean, it was special all week, I fought really hard. You know, I was battling all week long and to come out on top is really, really special.”

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David Puig pictured during round four on 17 March, 2024, at the International Series Macau presented by Wynn, at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Picture by Asian Tour.

On his struggles on the first play-off hole he said: “Basically I just figured I had nothing to lose, I mean he’s already made four. So, I either got to make four or it’s over, and it actually kind of took a little bit of the heat off and I had a decent chip and a good putt.”

This is also his first appearance on The International Series and is redemption for being beaten by Puig in the season-opening IRS Prima Malaysian Open. He tied for third there and also missed out on a place in The Open due to a countback based on world rankings.

The win also justifies his decision to return to playing on the Asian Tour. He has been competing in Europe for the past four seasons – where he won back-to-back titles in 2020 and once in 2021 – but after a poor couple of years he opted to play in this year’s Asian Tour Qualifying School, where he made it through in 19th place.

He moves into second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, while Puig has the consolation of becoming number one. On The International Series Rankings, Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz is still first, with Catlin second and Puig third.

“Yeah, good day, obviously the score says it right?” said Puig.

“And I played good. Had a very good back nine and I’m happy that I got into the play-off and I had a chance. It has been a good week. I mean different course for sure but pretty fun. Also, you know, I’m pretty tired being the seventh week in a row, so I’m glad I finished on a good note and ready for what’s next.”

The Asian Tour has a break now before it heads to the US$1million Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund, at Riyadh Golf Club, from April 17-20.

 

For more information, visit asiantour.com

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