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Matthieu Pavon: Frenchman hopes to inspire as his journey to success continues with PGA TOUR win

Matthieu Pavon: Frenchman hopes to inspire as his journey to success continues with PGA TOUR win

By Mathieu Wood

Motivated by his family, Matthieu Pavon now hopes to inspire a nation to realise their dreams. The amazing acceleration his career has enjoyed in recent months proves good things do indeed come to those who wait.

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Matthieu Pavon finished in a tie for seventh in his PGA TOUR season debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this month

Just a few months on from earning his maiden DP World Tour victory – in wire-to-wire fashion, no less – at the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid, the Frenchman is now a global champion following his first PGA TOUR title at the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday.

The joyous moments he is now celebrating in are the result of many years of dedication, a value ingrained in him from a young age by his sporting family.

His mother, Beatrice, is a golf instructor while his father, Michel, won France’s top-tier division in football with Bordeaux during a 15-year playing career before moving into coaching. His grandfather too was a professional footballer.

Hard work is a non-negotiable for Pavon. You only need to look at a tattoo on his right hand for evidence of that: “The saliva that flows now will become the tears of joy tomorrow.”

The spirit he showed down the stretch in the final round at Torrey Pines, perhaps epitomised best by recovering from a three-putt at the 17th to card a brilliant closing birdie to win the title by one shot from Ryder Cup star and fellow PGA TOUR rookie Nicolai Højgaard, is a trait that will continue to serve him well as his career reaches new heights.

“All they (my parents) could really do with me is teach great values, the taste of the effort… just being as humble as you can and just do your best every time you show up,” said Pavon.

In the aftermath of his biggest achievement to date, Pavon, who as a child largely played football over golf, admitted such a momentous day seemed improbable when he was struggling to make an impression as an amateur.

He nearly quit the sport shortly before turning professional because of chipping yips but after switching to cross-handed, the technique has became a key part of his game.

After joining the paid ranks at the age of 20 in 2013, he won in his rookie season on the Alps Tour a year later and followed up with another in 2015, the same year he earned a European Challenge Tour card by reaching the final stage of the DP World Tour Qualifying School.

In his single season on the Challenge Tour, he finished sixth on the Road to Mallorca, before waiting seven seasons to claim his first DP World Tour win in the Spanish capital. From that moment, belief has grown.

After backing it up with a top ten at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters a week later, he was then in title contention at the Nedbank Golf Challenge before finishing in a tie for 15th after a closing 73 at Sun City.

However, he responded to that disappointment by showing the resolve that is a now a hallmark of his game by making four straight birdies to close out his final round of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and claim one of the ten PGA TOUR cards on offer and dual membership status.

“Since then, I am on a cloud, I'm flying. It's incredible,” Pavon said with a beaming smile.

At the age of 31, Pavon is a shining example of the value pathways in the game can have.

“I had almost no pressure coming, playing in America,” he added. “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 because they are very special.”

His victory, in just the third start of his rookie PGA TOUR season, has opened doors to the biggest events in the world of golf, including a debut appearance at the Masters Tournament in April.

Projected to climb inside the top 40 on the Official World Golf Ranking, he has also strengthened his bid to represent France at a home Olympic Games this summer.

Pavon knows just how important it is for young aspiring athletes to have role models to look up to, highlighting the success of fellow French player Céline Boutier, who won her maiden Major title at the Evian Championship last summer. He now hopes his journey can play a part in inspiring the next generation.

“It is big for our country,” said Pavon. “Because [going] from an amateur player who was 800 in the world to PGA TOUR winner is pretty big.”

Now a champion on both the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR, perhaps his attentions may turn to emulating Boutier as a Major winner. What appears safe to say is he is fast emerging as Continental Europe’s latest golfing star.

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