[PHOTO: Paul Lakatos]

Ben Campbell snatched a surprise victory from John Catlin right at the end to win the $US2million International Series Morocco after a sensational finish on the Red course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.

New Zealand’s Campbell holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to win on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, having been three shots behind playing partner Catlin with two holes to play.

Campbell shot a two-under-par 71, helped by an eagle on the par-4 17th and a birdie on 18 in normal time, to tie Catlin (72) on 15-under. American Caleb Surratt (71) and Eugenio Chacarra (73) from Spain tied for third, three behind the top two.

Campbell started the final day one behind Catlin – the leader after each of the first three days and chasing a third win of the season – and looked to be falling just short. He’d made two great up and downs for par on 15 and 16 before holing a 35-foot putt for eagle on the penultimate hole.

On the par-5 18th, they both faced 10-foot birdie putts, with Campbell holing his first before his American opponent, normally so clinical, just missed his attempt.

“That was a great finish,” Campbell said.

“You know, I didn’t have my best out there today and I just kept saying to Mike (his caddie), ‘I’ve just got to find something and just stay patient.’ And yeah, like I went flag-hunting on 16 and leaked it right, and hit a great bunker shot there. I said to Mike, ‘If I can find a birdie eagle, you never know.’ So, I did that, and then to hole a putt like that in the playoff, it’s always good.”

It is his second success on the Asian Tour having won the Hong Kong Open, another event on the International Series calendar, at the end of last year after a similarly last-gasp finish when he nailed a 15-foot birdie to win by one.

The win is another reward for a player dogged by injury throughout his career.

“I just think it’s been a tough run, and I didn’t give up then and I’m not going to give up now. I just kept saying to Mike, ‘Just don’t give up out here,’” Campbell said. “I’ve got to find something in my swing. I was feeling great on the range and lost it, sort of, on the course. But yeah, just said to him and I just sort of keep saying to myself, ‘Don’t give up.’”

Catlin had one hand on the trophy with three to go and was a safe bet to claim the seventh Asian Tour title of his career and second wire-to-wire of the season.

Holding a one-shot lead at the start of the day, he surprisingly bogeyed his first two holes, but bounced back to lead by one at the turn before a birdie on 15 left him with that three-stoke cushion. Unfortunately, two closing pars were not good enough to hold off the charging Campbell.

Said Catlin: “I mean, you have to tip the cap. I mean, the guy goes 2, 4, 4 to finish. I mean, he probably made 130 feet of putts to win on the last three holes. All you can do is shake his hand and say well done. I mean, yeah, it is what it is.

“I played great. You know, I never, never gave in; I just kept battling. Kept chipping away. And you know that birdie on 15 gave me a decent little cushion there. And yeah, I mean, I’m very pleased with the way that I played. There’s no doubt about it.”

The 33-year-old has the consolation of taking over from Mexican Carlos Ortiz at the top of The International Series Rankings, while he consolidated his lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM).

Campbell is now second on the International Series Rankings and third on the Asian Tour OOM.

Surrat, at 20 the youngest player on the LIV Golf League, was thrilled with his week.

“Really good week,” he said. “You know, I didn’t know it was going to be as good as this at my first International Series event, so it was definitely way more than I expected. And definitely gave me something really good to build off of going into next week and Andalusia.”

The Asian Tour takes a short break now before heading to the International Series England at Foxhills Country Club and Resort, from August 8-11. It will be the ninth event of the season on the Asian Tour and fourth leg of the International Series. American Andy Ogletree, who topped the Asian Tour OOM and International Series Rankings last year, is the defending champion.