ATZENBRUGG, Austria — John Catlin beat Maximilian Kieffer at the fifth playoff hole on Sunday to win the Austrian Open for his third European Tour title.
The American easily wrapped up the victory after three shots from Kieffer landed in the water. The German earlier had a promising chance for his first tour victory, but narrowly missed a birdie putt at the first playoff hole.
“It’s kind of relief. Kind of thought that playoff was never going to end and that we kept going back and forth,” Catlin, who finished on 14-under 274, told Austrian TV.
“It’s obviously nice to win but you never want to see your opponent finish like that. That’s difficult.”
It was Catlin’s third win in 45 appearances, and the 246th win by an American golfer on the European Tour. Catlin has 10 wins worldwide, including four on the Asian Tour.
“Winning is never easy, it doesn't matter what tour you are playing on. So, to get this one is definitely special,” the American said.
“I'd like to crack that top 15 in the world, just to get a chance to play in some more major championships. I never actually played in a major but I think this gives me a very good chance to play in the PGA Championship.”
Catlin started the final day two strokes off the lead, but his second bogey-free round of the tournament lifted him to the top of the leaderboard.
Kieffer trailed the leading duo of Martin Kaymer and Alejandro Canizares by one shot going into the final round, but won six shots in his first seven holes, which included an eagle on the par-5 fourth.
Kieffer and Catlin both birdied the third playoff hole.
It was the second time Kieffer was beaten in a playoff. At the 2013 Open de Espana, he lost to Raphael Jacquelin after nine extra holes.
Kaymer and Alejandro Canizares shared the lead and teed off the final day with a one-stroke advantage, but Catlin and Kieffer pulled ahead.
Former top-ranked Kaymer, chasing his first win since his 2014 U.S. Open triumph, opened with a bogey, added a double on the par-4 third and dropped another stroke on the ninth. He recovered with four birdies in his last six holes to finish third, three strokes behind.
Canizares, who had led since the opening day, lost three strokes on the front nine. He got the first of his two birdies on No. 14 and finished in a tie for seventh at 7-under 281.
The event at the Diamond Country club marked the start of a European swing in the tour, with an event in Gran Canaria and two in Tenerife coming up next.