South Africa

John Catlin one-shot off lead at Tenerife Open after threatening to record 59

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John Catlin celebrated qualifying for his first major championship by threatening to record the second 59 in European Tour history in the Tenerife Open.

Catlin, whose third win in 13 events in the Austrian Open earlier this month secured a place in May’s US PGA Championship, started from the 10th at Costa Adeje – a par-71 layout – and covered his first 13 holes in 10 under par.

That left the in-form American needing to play the last five in two under to join England’s Oliver Fisher in carding a 59, but good birdie chances went begging on the fifth and seventh before the 30-year-old bogeyed his last two holes.

An eight-under-par 63 gave Catlin a share of second place with last week’s winner Garrick Higgo, Dean Burmester and Alexander Bjork, a shot behind Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.

“It’s hard not to have 59 in your mind,” Catlin admitted. “I was still able to execute good golf shots and I had some good chances on both the par threes.

“I’ve had a chance before to shoot 59 but I had to birdie like four of the last five, so to only to have to birdie the last two, that definitely becomes a little more real.

“It was unfortunate to finish the way I did, but I’ll take the positives.”

John Catlin
John Catlin will make his major debut in May’s US PGA Championship (Brian Lawless/PA)

Speaking about his major debut next month, Catlin added: “I have never played Kiawah Island before but I hear it’s a very challenging golf course.

“I like my record on challenging golf courses (he won at Valderrama last year), so we’ll see how that goes, but I’m very excited to play my first major.”

Playing just his second event of 2021 due to a combination of testing positive for Covid-19, a wrist injury and becoming a father for the first time, Olesen set the pace after a round containing 10 birdies and one bogey.

“I think the first nine holes was the best putting display I’ve shown for a very long time,” the former Ryder Cup winner said. “I just had to look at it and it went in.

“To be honest my expectations for this week are low as well. I was very happy to finish top five (last week), that was amazing. I haven’t been that high on a leaderboard for a very long time. Being in contention again was a great feeling and something I’ve missed very much for the last few years.”

Olesen was suspended by the European Tour after he was arrested and charged with sexual assault, being drunk on a plane and assault by beating after an alleged incident on a flight from Nashville to London on July 29, 2019.

The 31-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges at a court hearing in December that year, but delays in legal proceedings due to the coronavirus saw his suspension lifted in July 2020. He is not due to appear in court again until December 6 at the earliest.

Northern Irish teenager Tom McKibbin carded a one-under-par 70 on his professional debut.

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