Catlin edges ahead at halfway mark of International Series Morocco

(Rabat, Morocco, 5 July 2024) American John Catlin, attempting to claim his third title in four starts on the Asian Tour, maintained his lead in the US$2 million International Series Morocco today.
The joint first-round leader fired a two-under-par 71 on the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat, for a two-day total of nine-under.
It gave the six-time winner on the Asian Tour a one-stroke advantage over India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar (68), Travis Smyth (69) from Australia, Japan’s Jinichiro Kozuma (70), New Zealander Ben Campbell (70) and Filipino Miguel Tabuena (71).
New Zealand’s Kazuma Kobori, the first-round leader with Catlin, fell back with a 77 and is three under.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Catlin, winner of the International Series Macau presented by Wynn and the Saudi Open presented by PIF back-to-back earlier this year, had an unusually up-and-down back nine, with an eagle, one birdie on 18, and three bogeys but held on to head into the weekend in pole position.
“Yeah, it was okay, I just would have liked to have been a little bit sharper,” said Catlin.
“It just felt a little bit off, but I was able to hang in there well, and you know I still posted a decent number and stayed on top of that leaderboard. That was important to me coming down the last. I was like, ‘I want to make a four on 18 and be in that final group’.”
The 33-year-old is fresh from his debut on the LIV Golf League: he finished joint 24th in LIV Golf Houston, tied for seventh in their Nashville event and will head to the next stop Valderrama next week.
He added: “I just I love the game. I love to play. I want to keep playing and you know, I think that’s the beauty of it – there’s always next week, there’s new goals you set, there’s always new heights you’re trying to get to.
“You know, Tiger Woods said it, he’s like ‘you never really arrive, it’s like a journey where you never really get there’. Right? Like, you’re always okay, I can be a little bit better here. I can do this a little bit better, I can do that a little bit better, and I think that’s the beauty of it.”
Tabuena birdied the last two holes as he continued to back up his fifth-place finish in the Kolon Korea Open two weeks ago.
He said: “It was good. I knew it was going to be tough today, the winds were swirling and there were some good pins there. I didn’t get off to a good start, but I held in there and finished pretty well.
“I just continued to stay patient you know. I knew that there were a lot of holes left in the round, and a lot of holes left in the next few days, and I just wanted to put myself in a good position to move up the leaderboard.”
Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent is a stroke further back with Spaniard Eugenio Chacarra. They both shot 71, in the eighth event of the season on the Asian Tour and the third of 10 stops on The International Series.
For Vincent it has been two of the most unusual days of his golfing career, after having arrived here with his clubs delayed, like his brother Kieran.
Before his afternoon round yesterday he dashed to Casablanca airport to see if his clubs had finally arrived. To his dismay he was not able to get them in time even though they had arrived at the airport, so he hurried back to the tournament but arrived late for his tee-time and was penalised two shots. His par four on the first was frustratingly turned into a six. However, he responded to the challenge by firing a 68 to sit two off the lead.

This morning he was back on the course with his own clubs but rather than capitalise he tripled bogeyed the par-four 10th, his first hole of the day.
The 32-year-old continued to struggle on his first nine but burst through with four birdies in his last six holes.
“I misjudged the timing coming back (yesterday). We made one wrong turn and that put me a few minutes behind,” said the 2022 International Series Rankings champion.
“My clubs had arrived at about 9.30 that morning, so I was there waiting for them. I could see with my Apple tags that they were in the airport, but I just couldn’t get to them in time. So yeah, it was hard letting them go knowing that I was within 20 metres of them somewhere. But yeah, I had to leave them in order to try and make the tee time and yeah, maybe left a little too late.”
After his poor start today he said: “Kind of thought we were over that after yesterday, but yeah, it was just trying to get into the rhythm. Tried to not get caught up in the circumstances and just play your game, and yeah, after that it was actually really nice and solid.”
South African Jaco Ahlers produced the shot of the season so far enroute to carding a 71, to sit four off the lead.
He made a spectacular albatross on the par-five 12th after holing his second shot from 252 yards with a hybrid.
It is the 28th albatross in the history of the Asian Tour and the first in two years.
“That’s pretty nice to hole that for an albatross,” said last year’s winner of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
“It’s the first one I’ve ever had, so pretty happy. It was a good number, just hit it a little bit too far right and the slope helped it out, so it was nice to see it going in.”
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the defending champion, carded his second 73 and is even for the tournament.