John Catlin leads the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF after an opening round of 66 saw him carry on the strong form he showed when winning the International Series Macau in March, as he praised the facilities on offer at Riyadh Golf Club.

American Catlin is a five-time Asian Tour winner and sits at six-under par with Wade Ormsby, Justin Quiban, Tatsunori Shogenji and Scott Hend all just one shot back after the first day of action. Asian Tour Order of Merit leader and LIV Golf member David Puig was well-placed to end the day level with Catlin before a double bogey on the 16th dropped him back to the group of four players at four-under par.

Catlin played in the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf Club in the King Abdullah Economic City three years ago, but this is his first visit to the capital and he praised the tournament, noting the strong field was inevitable given the standard of tournaments Golf Saudi continues to host.

Catlin said: “It’s my second time coming to Saudi Arabia and when I played the Saudi International it was a top class event and this is right up there with it. Everything so far has been run very, very well, the facilities are really good and I am enjoying myself for sure. Good players like playing good events, and if you put on a good event like this, you’re going to get a strong field.

“I played solid golf. It was playing difficult out there and the wind picked up from the start. You had to think your way around and I did that quite well. I had control of my ball flight and was able to get the ball pin high a lot, which is difficult out here. I holed a few nice putts too. I look forward to the challenge tomorrow when we might see even more wind.”

Khalid Walid Attieh – Asian Tour

Khalid Walid Attieh made history in Oman earlier this year when he became the first Saudi amateur to make a cut at the International Series event in Muscat and he carried on his strong form on the opening day in Riyadh. His round of 72 was the best among the seven Saudi golfers in the field, while Moroccan Ayoub Lguirati ended on one-under par to lead the 20 invited Arab golfers.

Attieh said: “I was really pleased with how I played this morning as the wind made it really difficult. But my performance was at a good level and it confirmed to me that I am not far away from competing regularly with the best players on the Asian Tour.

“It is vital that Saudi players are given the opportunity to play in events with fields as strong as this, because we are all developing quickly. I thank Golf Saudi for their support and for the chance to play on the Asian Tour again.”

Last year’s runner-up Henrik Stenson is well placed to make a charge at two-under-par, while reigning champion Denwit Boriboonsub is one short further back after two bogeys in his final six holes.

The PIF Moment of the Day belonged to Thai golfer Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who teed off on the 10th hole and birdied his third, fourth, fifth and sixth holes of the day to storm to five-under-par, before ending the day joint-10th on three-under-par.

Images: Asian Tour