Magnifique Matthieu Pavon becomes first frenchman to win on PGA Tour

Fatiha Betscher
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Matthieu Pavon (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Fatiha Betscher

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Magnifique Matthieu Pavon brilliantly captured the Farmers Insurance Open to become the first French-born golfer to win on the PGA Tour with his one shot victory at Torrey Pines.

Pavon, 31, incredibly birdied the last in a round of 69 to win with a 13-under tally and in the process earn the Toulouse-born golfer a whopping $1.5m first prize cheque, a full Tour exemption to the end of 2026, while a more immediate reward for Pavon is a maiden Masters invitation.

Pavon headed into the final round just a shot off the lead and though he bogeyed the first, he bounced back with birdies at fourth and sixth holes.

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He then joined overnight leader German Stephan Jaeger in a share of the 12-under lead when he birdied the eighth hole while the duo moved to 13-under with birdies each at nine.

Pavon, with English caddy Mark Sherwood calling the shots, then took the lead at the 12th when Jaeger bogeyed the hole and from thereon the Frenchman was never headed, and this despite dropping a shot at 17 to be only clear but then also pulling off a truly remarkable birdie at the par-5 last after his drive found a fairway bunker before sending his second into deep, only to then remarkably find the green with his the third and hole the six-foot victory putt.

Pavon denied Dane Nicolai Hojgaard, who also birdied the last in a round of 70 to finish at 12-under while Jaeger was left lamenting also dropping a shot at the 71st hole but then also birdied the last to end in a three-way tie for third at 11-under.

However, there was no denying Pavon the win.

“I have no words, it’s amazing and I feel like it being a Saturday that there is another round tomorrow”, he said.

“I don’t have many words, just a big ‘thank you’ to all my team, to my family and everything they have done for me, so far.

“It’s been a long journey. I waited seven years on the DP World Tour to win late last year in Europe and finally I’ve got a win in America. It’s just tremendous”.

Pavon’s victory, after the bogey at his 71st hole and then looking like he had thrown away the tournament with his drive and second shot at the lead, was a powerful French symbol as the Arc de Triomphe and winning also on the longest course on the PGA Tour.

Remarkably, it had taken Pavon 182 tournaments to win on the DP World Tour in capturing last October’s Spanish Open and now in just a third tournament as a member of the PGA Tour he’s celebrating success.

Pavon earned full PGA Tour priviledges via the historic decision last year to afford membership to the leading 10, and not otherwise exempt, at the end of the 2023 Race to Dubai money list.

Pavon, who had birdied his final four holes at the DP World Tour Championship to earn a PGA Tour card, made an impressive debut earlier this month sharing seventh place at the Sony Open and then was tied  39th at last week’s American Express.

“This win is now on the top of my career, right”, he said.

“There is no better moment than winning here in America. I dreamt about it since I was a kid. I came here to America to go to high school, I came over here to practice as I worked on my dream”.

Among those an emotional Pavon singled out was his family and his team, including former DP World Tour star Thomas Levet.

“I had so much support from Thomas Levet and also from my family and all in all, it’s just a dream come true”, he said.

“I am not sure what my win will do for growing the game back in France but then we have a major winner in Celine Boutier, who won the Evian Masters last year.  She is a true champion and a major winner.

“So, I just tried to step in and copy her, and let’s dream about me winning a major now”.

A first reward for Pavon is a start in next week’s ‘Signature’ event – the $20m Pebble Beach Pro Am.

 

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