The American arrived at Real Club Valderrama in 2020 without full playing privileges but left with the trophy and has not looked back since.
He won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open three weeks later and has since added the 2021 Austrian Golf Open to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with on the European Tour.
He had already won four times on the Asian Tour prior to his victory in Spain but he admits winning at the 1997 Ryder Cup venue took his confidence to the next level.
"This was a special win for me last year being my first win out here in Europe, especially on a golf course like this," he said.
"It's a spectacular place to come back to, the memories start coming back, each hole I think about some of the shots that I've hit and it definitely makes me smile so I'm looking forward to a great week.
"I always knew I could win. I had won quite a few times before but the European Tour is a whole other level and it definitely gave me a lot of confidence, especially on a golf course like this.
"It was playing very challenging and you had to hit high quality golf shots just to give yourself any kind of a chance at a birdie so it definitely gave me a lot of confidence.
"It's just always going to be a special place to come back to. I'm looking forward to the week."
Catlin took the title after a colossal final day battle with two time Major Champion Martin Kaymer.
I always knew I could win. I had won quite a few times before but the European Tour is a whole other level and it definitely gave me a lot of confidence, especially on a golf course like this
The 30-year-old entered the final day with a two shot lead as the only player under par but amid very difficult conditions, it was a Kaymer bogey on the last that saw Catlin take the title on two over.
"It was a battle, Martin and I were kind of in a boxing match," he said. "It felt like it was one punch this way and a counter punch back that way and it just happened that I was up after the 18th hole - if we had to keep going it might have flip-flopped.
"I was very proud of the way I handled that boxing match. I just kept going and kept trying to dish out as many punches as I could."
It is testament to the challenge of Valderrama that Kaymer has never finished outside the top 30 in this event yet has also fired just one round in the 60s.
It is that toughness that makes it one of the European Tour's great venues and Kaymer would love to claim a win in Sotogrande.
"Valderrama is a very special place for many reasons," he said. "Obviously it's a very iconic golf course on the European Tour and in general in Europe.
"It's a golf course I have always played really well, I enjoy the environment, the condition of the golf course is always fantastic.
"A lot of Germans, they come here to support me as well so overall it's a great venue.
"I've been coming here since 2007 and I remember the first week I played here - I was walking the golf course with a trolley because I didn't have a caddie at that time - and when I played the 18 holes and with the history of that place, my heart told me that you want to win there one day.
"I came close a couple of times and I will be fighting every year to get that win because it is a golf course and a venue where you would like to put your name on the trophy."