Matthieu Pavon becomes 'bigger draw' on DP World Tour thanks to stunning US win

Bob MacIntyre among players who will have been inspired by Frenchman’s breakthrough PGA Tour triumph
Frenchman Matthieu Pavon poses with the trophy after winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Picture: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images.Frenchman Matthieu Pavon poses with the trophy after winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Picture: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images.
Frenchman Matthieu Pavon poses with the trophy after winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Picture: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images.

Some of my favourite golfers just happen to be Frenchmen, the list in question containing Jean Van de Velde, Thomas Levet and Mike Lorenzo-Vera. I’ve always admired Van de Velde for the way he handled his Carnoustie catastrophe in The Open in 1999; became a big fan of Levet when he won the Scottish Open in 2004 and Lorenzo-Vera, as I was happy to be reminded in a recent chat in Dubai, is just a cool dude.

There’s now been an addition to that list because what Matthieu Pavon has achieved in a short space of time is truly astonishing. His breakthrough win on the DP World Tour only came last October in the acconia Open de Espana, yet the 31-year-old is also now a PGA Tour title holder after landing the Farmers Insurance Open thanks to a brilliant last-hole birdie at Torrey Pines at the weekend.

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It was a first success by a Frenchman on the circuit since Arnaud Massy, who, incidentally, was laid to rest in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh, in 1907 and, coming on the back of Celine Boutier’s rise up the Rolex Women’s World Ranking, these are exciting times for the country preparing to host an Olympics this summer. “It’s just hard work and belief,” said Pavon, who is coached by Pitenweem-based Jamie Gough, of his eye-catching efforts. “If you believe that you’re capable to do it, you can do it.”

The weekend win came in just his third start as a PGA Tour card holder after being among the ten players to earn that status through the 2023 DP World Tour Race to Dubai, with Pavon having wasted no time showing how grateful he was to have earned such an opportunity after finishing in the top ten in the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier in the month. “Thanks, boss” was his message to Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive, as they exchanged texts after that performance, which earned Pavon around $250,000 and now he’s just banked a whopping $1.62 million. “I'm like on a cloud, I'm flying. It's incredible,” he admitted.

Pelley, of course, has been heavily-criticised in some quarters for his role in creating a pathway for DP World Tour players to become PGA Tour members, but the fact of the matter is that, through a strategic alliance, a route that most top European players have wanted to follow over the past 20 years has merely been formalised and anyone who suggests otherwise, in my opinion at least, is a hypocrite.

“It’s been a game-changer for our business – there is no question,” stressed Pelley of the relationship between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour during a chat with a group of golf writers at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic as he mulled over his reign, which will come to an end in early April after it was announced recently that he’s returning to Canada to become president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd in his native Toronto. “Everybody inside the tour on my executive leadership team totally understands it and our board totally understands it. In the midst of global uncertainty from an economic perspective, to have guaranteed purses, for the earning potential to be at an all-time high. Look at even the ten cards. We weren't prepared to do the deal unless those ten cards were in there.”

Referring to Pavon, he added: “That's a wonderful opportunity for him and, when he comes back (to the DP Tour) and he plays in the Open de France this year, he'll be a bigger name. He'll be a bigger draw. So people need to understand all of the details behind it and the rationale behind it. And I don't expect them to because it's impossible because they are not in the business.”

But the players – Bob MacIntyre, of course, was also among those ten to become new PGA Tour members this year – understand and that’s one of the most important things in this whole issue. “I had almost no pressure coming, playing in America,” admitted Pavon, who graduated from the Alps Tour to the Challenge Tour to the DP World Tour before opening this latest chapter in his career. “It's like it's just an opportunity. If I fail, I could just go back to Europe and I start again. So it was just like trying to do your best every day, enjoy every moment.”

There’s no doubt MacIntyre – the Scot, who was on the back foot straight away in his latest event after starting with a four-putt, will be looking to do better in his next stretch of events – and the eight others will have been inspired by Pavon’s performance in California, where the ever-improving Nicolai Hojgaard finished as his closest challenger and the mega-talented Ludvig Aberg was also in the top ten.

As for those fretting about the DP World Tour being left with a depleted pool of talent this year, Thorbjorn Olesen landing his eighth title triumph on the circuit and being chased home by his compatriot, Rasmus Hojgaard, in the Ras Al Khaimah Championship was a perfect example of that simply not being the case and, though it’s some way off, Luke Donald will already be licking his lips about the players he’ll have at his disposal for the 2025 Ryder Cup in New York.

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There’s nothing, of course, that should stop Jon Rahm from being one of them if the star LIV Golf signing retains his DP World Tour membership and it will be the same with Tyrrell Hatton and Adrian Meronk if, as now seems is going to be the case, are both unveiled as new team members as well ahead of the breakaway circuit’s 2024 season starting in Mexico on Friday. In Hatton’s case, it’s for a reported $50 million, which although dwarfed by the $476 million Rahm received, is, nonetheless, a staggering sum.

Seriously, what has happened to our great game?



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