Asian Tour number one Catlin and Kiwi Kobori lead International Series Morocco

(Rabat, Morocco, 4 July 2024) Asian Tour Order of Merit leader John Catlin from the Unites States moved into his familiar position on top of the leaderboard today after an opening round seven-under-par 66 gave him the lead, along with New Zealand’s rising star Kazuma Kobori, in the US$2 million International Series Morocco.
Filipino Miguel Tabuena is next best placed with a 67, on the par-73 Red Course here at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in the capital Rabat.

Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, playing with borrowed clubs and penalised two shots for arriving late on the first tee – just 30 seconds away from a DQ – shot a remarkable 68, along with Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho, Ben Campbell from New Zealand, Frenchman Sebastien Gros, Spain’s Eugenio Chacarra, Japan’s Jinichiro Kozuma and Yanwei Liu of China.
Catlin, who cruised round bogey-free like Kobori and Tabuena, has arrived in Rabat high on confidence, having made an impressive debut on the LIV Golf League last month.
He made an eagle and five birdies, evidence he is still playing the exceptionally high level of golf that saw him win the International Series Macau presented by Wynn and the Saudi Open presented by PIF back-to-back this year.
“Just very solid,” said the American, who is also second on The International Series Rankings.
“Hit a lot of really good shots. Actually left a few out there, it could have been even better, but I am very, very pleased with how I played. I am looking forward to the next three days.”
The 33-year-old, a six-timer winner on the Asian Tour, is enjoying arguably his finest season, with one reward being invites to the LIV Golf League. He finished joint 24th in Houston, tied for seventh in Nashville and will head to Valderrama next week.
He added: “It’s just hard work and sticking to the process. I am continuing to learn from the failures from the past in order to get better. I think that’s all you can ever do.”
Kobori, aged just 22 and New Zealand’s great hope for the future playing in his first event on The International Series, was unwell earlier in the week and was thrilled to have produced the goods on day one.
He said: “Unfortunately I got a bit ill on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I only got to play yesterday. I would’ve liked to have played it a bit more but hopefully I’ve still got three more rounds to play which I am really looking forward to.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I managed it because I didn’t even touch a club Tuesday. You should have seen the shots I was hitting on the range this morning but that being said, and once I got underway, I started to hit it quite nicely. I don’t know, it all just came together when I needed it to.”
He turned professional at the end of 2023 after a brilliant amateur career that saw him claim the individual title at the Eisenhower Trophy and the Australian Amateur earlier in the year. In 2019 he also won the New Zealand PGA Championship on the PGA Tour of Australia – the circuit where he won three successive titles earlier this year for his maiden wins as a professional.

Tabuena finished fifth in the Kolon Korea Open two weeks ago for his best finish of the season on the Asian Tour. He had got his game back on track by going back to a set of clubs and a putter he had used before and this week, much to his relief, he has picked up where he left off.
“I had no idea why I experimented (with new clubs),” said Tabuena.
“It’s great to be to be hitting it well again. It’s very good to be holding that old putter that I had used for the last three years. It seems to be coming along. It’s not quite there. I had a few mental errors but there’s three days to go and it does look like it’s working now.
“I took advantage of the calmer conditions in the morning but I’m pretty tired. I’m still jetlagged. I actually have my whole team here this week.”
One of those team members is on his bag. He explained: “It was great. We were having fun the whole time. It’s my sister-in-law on the bag, Kayla. And it’s a bit different, but it seems to be working. I’m loving every second of it.”
Vincent was narrowly late for his tee-time as he had gone to Casablanca airport to collect his golf clubs, which like his brother Kieran, had not arrived with him. Unfortunately, the clubs had still not arrived and upon his return to Royal Golf Dar Es Salam he played with a set from the club pro plus a two-shot penalty, with his par on the first turned into a double.
He said: “I had zero expectations today but feel we definitely learned something that will help us to get better in the future.”
Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai and Sarit Suwannarut, Australian Travis Smyth, Swede Charlie Lindh, Yeongsu Kim from Korea and Indian Rayhan Thomas, who recently turned pro, all returned 69s.
The defending champion Jazz Janewattananond from Thailand fired a 73.
This week’s event is the eighth of the season on the Asian Tour and the third of 10 stops on The International Series.