John Catlin set his name in stone in the history books today by becoming the first player to shoot a 59 on the Asian Tour, at the International Series Macau presented by Wynn – emphatically announcing his return to the region.

The American, a four-time winner on the Asian Tour who has spent the last four seasons playing in Europe, carded an explosive bogey-free 11-under-par 59 to take the third-round lead at Macau Golf & Country Club.

He leads the event on 18-under by two from American Jason Kokrak, who shot a 62. Lucas Herbert from Australia also returned a 62 and is a further stroke back along with joint overnight leader Jbe Kruger from South Africa, who came in with a 66.

Spaniard David Puig, who shared the lead at the start of day with Kruger, returned a 68, which, on a day of tremendously low-scoring, saw him fall back into a tie for eighth on 13-under. 

Catlin holed a brilliant big left-to-right breaking 20-foot eagle putt on the par-five 18th to seal the deal, after making six birdies on the front nine and three on the back.

His ecstatic reaction to holing the putt marked yet another memorable milestone for the 33-year-old Californian on the Asian Tour. He first made his name here by winning on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in 2016 and 2017 before graduating to the main Tour where he won three times in 2018 and once in 2019.

Three victories followed in Europe soon after but having successfully passed through the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January it appears being back in the region has proved to be the correct career move.

“Yeah, I’m pretty much speechless,” said an emotional Catlin, who admitted later that he thought he would never break 60, even though all his passwords end with 59.

“It’s pretty, crazy. It hasn’t totally sunk in yet. Wow. Yeah, the emotions are hitting me for sure. Just everything I’ve been through over the last two years. To be here. It’s pretty special.”

Just prior to his remarkable three on the last he also made birdie on the challenging 239-yard par-three 17th, where he holed an eight-footer. A 10-footer to save par on the 12th also proved crucial.

The American was able to benefit from calm conditions and preferred lies but that didn’t detract from shooting the first sub-60. Sixty has been shot on three occasions on the Asian Tour before while a 59 has been carded once at both the Qualifying School and on the ADT.

When asked about his dip in form since last winning in Europe in early 2021, he said: “Yeah, it’s really difficult. You know, you sacrifice a lot, you put in a lot. I definitely want to thank my coach Noah Montgomery. He’s been with me now for 10 years and he really helped me through it. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have him in my corner and we just kept pushing. We just kept pushing. And yeah, to be here right now is pretty special.”

Catlin secured the 19th card at Qualifying School before going on to finish equal third at the season-opening IRS Prima Malaysian Open.

Kokrak, when asked if he felt he needed to play aggressively on a day of low scoring, said: “You have to. I mean it’s a golf course where if you’re in the fairway you have to attack it. The greens are soft, you have to attack this place with no wind. If it’s windy out there it can play a little tricky, but with it being calm we knew we had to go out there and shoot something low.”

Fellow LIV Golf League player Herbert added: “John [Catlin] has won plenty of tournaments, I have won plenty of tournaments and a few other boys have played plenty as well, and we all know how to get it done. So hopefully I can get in with a sniff with nine to play, and do the best I can do and it should be a good battle out there.”

Last year’s Hong Kong Open champion Ben Campbell (63) from New Zealand, Frenchman Martin Trainer (64), a Qualifying School graduate, and Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz (65), who won the International Series Oman last month, are four behind Catlin, in a tie for fifth.

Thailand’s 20-year-old star Denwit Boriboonsub, winner of the season-ending events on both the Asian Tour and ADT last December, signed for a 62 and is in a group of players one shot further adrift.

This week’s US$2million event is the fourth event of the year on the Asian Tour and second on The International Series.

Scores after round 3 of the International Series Macau presented by Wynn being played at Macau Golf and Country Club,  a par-70, 6,637-yard course (am – denotes amateur):

192 – John Catlin (USA) 67-66-59.
194 – Jason Kokrak (USA) 67-65-62.
195 – Lucas Herbert (AUS) 67-66-62, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 66-63-66.
196 – Ben Campbell (NZL) 67-66-63, Martin Trainer (FRA) 65-67-64, Carlos Ortiz (MEX) 65-66-65.
197 – Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 69-66-62, Patrick Reed (USA) 65-68-64, Andy Ogletree (USA) 66-67-64, Travis Smyth (AUS) 69-64-64, Pat Perez (USA) 64-67-66, David Puig (ESP) 65-64-68.
198 – Charng-Tai Sudsom (THA) 68-66-64, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 65-68-65, Minkyu Kim (KOR) 66-66-66, Yuta Sugiura (JPN) 64-67-67, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 65-65-68.
199 – Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 67-67-65, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 65-70-64, Ervin Chang (MAS) 67-67-65, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 67-67-65, Matthew Cheung (HKG) 66-67-66, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 67-66-66, Ye Wocheng (CHN) 67-68-64, Kalle Samooja (FIN) 66-67-66, Ratchanon Chantananuwat (am, THA) 68-64-67.
200 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 69-65-66, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 65-68-67, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 67-68-65, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 66-67-67, Mito Pereira (CHI) 64-66-70.
201 – Leon D’Souza (HKG) 69-66-66, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 72-63-66, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 67-66-68, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 66-69-66, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 67-69-65, Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 67-65-69, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 69-63-69, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 69-67-65.
202 – Younghan Song (KOR) 66-68-68, Maverick Antcliff (AUS) 70-65-67, Angelo Que (PHI) 68-66-68, Takumi Kanaya (JPN) 68-67-67, Steve Lewton (ENG) 69-66-67, Trevor Simsby (USA) 66-67-69, Deyen Lawson (AUS) 71-65-66, William Harrold (ENG) 67-69-66.
203 – Carlos Pigem (ESP) 68-67-68, Kevin Yuan (AUS) 68-67-68, Hudson Swafford (USA) 66-69-68, Ian Poulter (ENG) 68-67-68, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 66-67-70, Tatsunori Shogenji (JPN) 65-67-71, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 68-68-67.
204 – Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-65-69, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 66-70-68, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 67-69-68, Jed Morgan (AUS) 73-63-68.
205 – Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 71-63-71, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 66-68-71, Li Haotong (CHN) 63-72-70, Scott Hend (AUS) 65-68-72, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 68-68-69, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-67-69, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 68-68-69.
206 – Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 67-67-72, Justin Quiban (PHI) 69-66-71, Koh Deng Shan (SIN) 68-67-71, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 67-69-70, Ho Yu-cheng (TPE) 70-66-70.
207 – James Piot (USA) 68-68-71.
210 – Pattaraphol Khanthacha (THA) 65-69-76.

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