Golf: feat of Matthieu Pavon, first French winner of a PGA tournament

You had to be patient

Golf: feat of Matthieu Pavon, first French winner of a PGA tournament

You had to be patient. Very patient. And so wait until 2024 and Matthieu Pavon to finally see a Frenchman win a modern-day PGA Tour tournament. The golfer, born in Toulouse and aged 31, achieved a historic feat by winning, Saturday January 27, at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, in San Diego (California). This victory is the first for a Frenchman on the PGA for 117 years, the circuit announced on its X account.

The performance is all the more unexpected as Matthieu Pavon won for only his third tournament on the prestigious North American professional circuit which he joined this season thanks to the fifth place snatched at the end of last year at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

“I don't have the words, it's incredible, I have the impression that there is still one round left tomorrow [Sunday]”, he declared, his voice trembling, on the microphone of the broadcaster CBS Sports . “It’s the greatest moment of my career, I’ve dreamed of it since I was a child. It's been a long road. I waited seven years on the main European circuit to get my first victory, and I'm already winning in America. It's just exceptional. »

The Paris Olympics in sight

The son of former footballer Michel Pavon allows French golf to extend its golden period, after the exceptional year 2023 of Céline Boutier, winner of her first major tournament in Evian, and finished in third place in the world. The French will have the opportunity to shine at home at the Paris Olympic Games next summer. “It’s one of my goals this year to qualify and represent my country in Paris. We can say that it’s off to a good start,” Pavon smiled at a press conference.

Matthieu Pavon returned a card of 69 on Saturday (3 under par) for a total of 275, one stroke less than the Dane Nicolai Hojgaard and two less than the German Stephan Jaeger and the Americans Jake Knapp and Nate Lashley. The Frenchman secured his victory at the end of a suspenseful finale in California, after entering the final day in second place in the provisional ranking, one stroke behind Jaeger.

Placed in the last part, he was carried by a magnificent go (-3 under par after nine holes including four birdies) to take the lead and be two strokes ahead of the competition by presenting himself at hole number 16 (par 3), that he got off to a bad start in a bunker. After an average sand exit, a long and superb putt allowed him to snatch par.

A magnificent shot wasted by a bogey on a missed short putt at the next hole (par 4), enough to present itself with a single stroke lead at the 18th and last hole under pressure from the Dane Nicolai Hojgaard, in his game. Pavon got off to a bad start on his last hole of the weekend by falling into the rough, before coming out with class on the third shot and sinking the following putt for a victorious birdie on this par 5.

A leap forward in the rankings

The South-West golfer concludes a magnificent month of January after finishing seventh in Hawaii in mid-January for his first PGA tournament. He won his first tournament on the European tour in October 2023 in Madrid.

“This title had proven to me that I was capable of great things. It gave me confidence. With my team, we do everything we need to do to be competitive at the highest level,” he said. “I had almost no pressure coming to North America. It's just an opportunity. If I fail I can return to Europe and start again. I enjoy every moment here, they are precious moments,” he added.

With his victory, the Frenchman, 78th in the world before this week, will make a jump in the rankings and has opened the doors to the biggest tournaments this season.