John Catlin claimed his third victory in just 13 events at the Austrian Golf Open after the American triumphed in a dramatic five-hole play-off with Maximilian Kieffer, following a similarly thrilling final-day battle with the German in regulation play.
Catlin began the day two shots back from the lead and played in the penultimate group behind Kieffer and third round leaders Martin Kaymer and Alejandro Cañizares.
The 30-year-old was at one point in the day four strokes behind Kieffer, who got off to a roaring start. A typically determined display from the Californian, however, yielded seven birdies for an impressive closing 65 and forced extra holes with Kieffer, who signed for a 66.
In a roller coaster play-off, Kieffer looked to have earned a shock victory when he sank a monster putt for birdie on the third extra hole, but Catlin was equal to the task and knocked in a tester for his two.
It was a disappointing end for Kieffer, who found the water three times at the fifth attempt down the par three 18th at Diamond Country Club, handing victory to a delighted Catlin – who moved to 24th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
John Catlin: “It’s always nice to win. It’s tough to watch that happen – we’re out here giving it our all, he’s a very, very accomplished player. To have come out on top is something I’ll always cherish.
“There was about a three-foot wide gap and I landed it right in the middle of it. As soon as it landed I knew that had a chance to be pretty good – you never know how it’s going to bounce through that rough. For it to come out like that and to make that par is probably one in maybe a thousand, it’s nice to get it done.
“I want to take this chance to thank my coach, Noah Montgomery. It’s been a really long road – 2015, 16, were tough seasons for me. He stuck by me, kept believing in me and putting in the hours. Winning is never easy, it doesn’t matter what Tour you’re playing on. To have got this one is very special.
“I’d love to crack that Top 50 in the world and play in a Major Championship, I’ve never actually played in one. I think this gives me a good chance to play in the PGA Championship, that was my goal. Hopefully it’s good enough. To get in those events and have a chance to win a Major, that’s been my goal since I was a kid. It would be nice to have that opportunity.”
Maximilian Kieffer: “I’m disappointed, that pretty much sums it up. I think my caddie and I were just trying to stay loose. It was good playing with Martin because I know him pretty well, so the atmosphere in our group was nice and funny so that kept the nerves away and heklped me stay present.
“I saw on the leaderboards, I had a great start, played very well and then in the middle of the round there are some tough holes but maybe I didn’t play them aggressively enough – a little bit like yesterday – and the last few holes I thought I would be a little bit more aggressive and makle as many birdies as I can. It was a fun day for sure.
“Tee to green I played lovely all week and I feel like I know what I’m working on in the game. Standing here I feel like I’m only going to get better. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way, you never know in golf, but I’m confident about the game and I felt good. Every shot on the play-off felt good too but the last shot was a bit stupid, I got a bit too aggressive.”
Martin Kaymer: “I played really well the last 15 holes. I wouldn’t say I threw myself out of the tournament after three holes, but obviously it was a disappointing start, especially those holes – I played them really well over the first three days. I had a terrible lie on the first; you should make five from there and then a double bogey is always a screw up. Overall it was a good week for me.”