John Catlin triumphs over LIV Golf’s David Puig in epic Asian Tour playoff

A day after shooting an incredible 59 in Macau, John Catlin had more reason to celebrate on Sunday.

He defeated LIV Golf’s David Puig in a two hole playoff at the International Series Macau on the Asian Tour. The win marks his first professional victory since April 2021, when he triumphed at the Austrian Golf Open on the DP World Tour.

“Still hasn’t quite sunk in, and that was one heck of a battle,” Catlin said, per the Asian Tour.

“I mean, if you had told me I would finish 23-under for the tournament, and I still have to be in a playoff, 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.”

Catlin received a special invite into the field this week, as he has struggled mightily over the past couple of years. He lost his DP World Tour card after a disappointing 2023, and has only played in three events thus far in 2024.

John Catlin, Asian Tour, International Series Macau

John Catlin during the final round of the 2024 International Series Macau.
Photo by Jason Butler/Getty Images

But none of these issues reared their ugly head Macau. Instead, Catlin played the way he knows he is capable of, shooting a 5-under 65 Sunday to keep pace with Puig, who carded an electrifying 10-under 60.

Playing four groups in front of Catlin, Puig made four birdies on the front and dropped a shot at the par-4 5th, thus going out with a 3-under 31.

He was at 16-under then, and in need of making a move.

That he did.

The Spaniard made two birdies and an eagle over his first four holes on the back-nine, and then closed with three birdies over his final four holes. In all, it totaled to a 7-under 29, as Puig then had to wait in the clubhouse at 23-under.

David Puig, Asian Tour, International Series Macau

David Puig, the young Spanish standout who plays on LIV Golf.
Photo by Jason Butler/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Catlin made the turn with a four-shot lead in hand. But he meandered somewhat on the back-nine, making only two birdies and a bogey to shoot a 1-under 35 coming in.

But Catlin still had a chance to end the tournament in regulation. At the par-5 18th, Catlin faced a six-footer for birdie and a return to the winner’s circle. He missed, thus settling for par and forcing a playoff.

The two players went back to the tee on 18, as the sizable gallery in Macau followed them. Then, Puig tried going for the green in two, but found the bunker adjacent to the putting surface. He hit the flagstick with his third shot, as his ball stopped inches from the cup. As such, Puig made birdie.

Catlin then faced a six-footer for birdie, but unlike in regulation, the American drained it, thus extending the playoff.

Then, on the second playoff, Puig faced a similar putt, but missed. Catlin two-putted for birdie, earning his fifth career Asian Tour win.

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

“And I played good. Had a very good back nine and I’m happy that I got into the playoff 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.”

Puig, who is only 22-years-old and played at Arizona State, has traversed the world over the past few months in an attempt to try and earn Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. He is currently ranked 132nd in the OWGR, while DataGolf lists him as the 99th ranked player.

Nevertheless, he did earn a spot in The Open Championship at Royal Troon in July, thanks to his play at the Malaysian Open in February. But he has yet to receive an invite—or a spot—in any of the other three majors.

LIV golfers face an uphill battle trying to qualify for major championships, because the OWGR does not award points to LIV events due to its structure and format. The majors use the OWGR to determine its fields.

Hence, numerous LIV players—such as Patrick Reed, Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, and Lucas Herbert—teed it up in Macau this week.

Herbert finished in solo third at 21-under, while Reed came in fourth, finishing at 20-under for the week. Kokrak and Ortiz also had top 10 results.

But standing atop the leaderboard at the end was Catlin, who surely will get more playing opportunities in 2024 thanks to his exhilarating victory.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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