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

Playing some of the hottest golf in the game at the moment, he 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 64 here at Riyadh Golf Club.

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

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

Last month he did actually 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 the 32-year-old, 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. Yeah, it was just a special week and I feel very lucky to be the champion.”

The American started the day with an eight-shot lead and not surprisingly was never challenged.

He explained: “I just kept telling myself just stay right here in the present. You know, 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, just keep staying in the present, keep staying in the present, keep executing this golf shot. I was able to do it.”

Three of Catlin’s first 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.

“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 for sure,” he added.

Ormsby was thrilled to be back among the leaders again.

“John had a big lead, it was difficult, you just want to go out and play as well as you can,” he said.

“I played great, probably one little blemish on number five. There were a couple of potential tiny openings there, but he closed the door straight away. I am really happy with the way I played. First week after 10 years with a new caddie, Mike, so it’s nice to get off on the right foot.

“I am really happy to be playing well again. I hit a lot of good shots out there today. Next week is going to be amazing at LIV Adelaide, that’s where I am from, it’s a golf course I grew up around, so I am looking forward to that.”

Reigning champion Denwit Boriboonsub finished in style on Saturday after a disappointing Friday saw his chances of retaining his trophy slip away. The Thai golfer shot 63, the joint-second lowest round of the week, enjoyed his time back at Riyadh Golf Club.

The 20-year-old said: “I’ve enjoyed and relished being the defending champion. It helped me a lot with a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour, which relieves a lot of pressure, and winning means a lot. Yesterday wasn’t so good, but I bounced back and I’m very happy with the score.”

Thailand’s amateur star 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 Chanmin Jung, will be played at Namseoul Country Club from May 2-5.

Image: Asian Tour