John Catlin claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters after overcoming two-time Major Champion Martin Kaymer in a thrilling battle for a one-stroke victory at the famous Real Club Valderrama.
The American showed nerves of steel as he fended off the challenge of his playing partner, the former World Number One from Germany, down the stretch and a four over 75 was enough for a two over winning total.
Catlin had started the day two shots clear at the top but bogeys at the fifth, tenth, 12th and 14th meant Kaymer – who birdied at the second, fourth and 12th – pulled level to set up a dramatic finale at the Sotogrande venue.
Kaymer missed a golden opportunity to take the lead at the 17th, missing a six foot birdie putt, and Catlin kept his composure with a delightful lag putt at the final hole to two feet. Kaymer had to hole his chip from the edge of the green to keep his chances alive and he almost did just that, but his bogey meant Catlin’s tap-in par sealed a victory which moved him to 35th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
“I think it’s still setting in, the nerves were going nuts the whole of the final round. It’s a very difficult golf course, the greens are firm and fast and the wind was no easier than it has been the previous three days. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in but that was my goal at the start of 2019, to win on the European Tour so to have actually accomplished that is pretty hard to put into words right now. It’s very difficult, the hardest part was hitting the fairways.
The wind is cross-breeze on most of them, down right to left or down from left to right, into left to right so if you get any kind of wrong spin going you can end up in the rough and the greens are just getting firmer and firmer. So fairways are a must, and I managed to make the fairway on 18 and that might have been the difference. I’m massively excited to play the big events. That’s what we play for, we all want to play against the best. That’s why playing with guys like Martin, and I played with Rory, Brooks, playing with those guys just shows you you can do it so having the opportunity to play those events is just fantastic.
I’d planned on playing everything for the rest of the year, but being able to pick and choose – the one event that has stuck out is having the chance to play Wentworth. That’s such a world-class event, I’ve been watching it on TV for the last 15 years. To have the opportunity to play that tournament, I’m very excited about that.”