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Olympic Games: Matthieu Pavon relishing chance to leave lasting impact for French golf on home soil

Olympic Games: Matthieu Pavon relishing chance to leave lasting impact for French golf on home soil

By Mathieu Wood

Competing and being part of the Olympic Games for the first time this summer is a prospect that fills Matthieu Pavon with great pride. Add the fact it will be on home soil, and it only heightens his motivation to make it an impactful experience.

Paris 2024 will be the third Summer Games since golf’s return at Rio in 2016 after a 112-year absence, with the top 60 men’s and women’s golfers on the Olympic Golf Rankings set to feature.

After a career-changing past six months or so in which he has won on both the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR for the first time, Pavon is eager to seize the opportunity to leave a legacy and serve as a catalyst for growth in participation in his homeland.

“I love golf so much. It has been a part of my life for so many years. I think it is a great game with great values,” he told the DP World Tour.

“I really hope the Olympics can help people in France to really enjoy the sport more and break some barriers.

"Golf is not just an elitist and wealthy game. Everyone can try to enjoy it.”

I really hope the Olympics can help people in France to really enjoy the sport more and break some barriers

The Olympics is the largest global sporting gathering and it will again see golf on a stage unlike any other event. In Pavon and Solheim Cup star Céline Boutier, who won her maiden Major title at the Evian Championship last summer, France is blessed with two fantastic superstars.

Pavon knows just how important it is for young aspiring athletes to have role models to look up to, highlighting the success of compatriot Boutier.

“As I said before, Celine is a big champion,” added Pavon, who is this week teeing it up at the ISPS HANDA – CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan as a host of stars from the DP World Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organization visit Taiheiyo Club Gotemba.

“I hope all those little girls back home are watching Celine and want to be like her. It would be a pleasure for me to do the same with the boys back home.

“We haven’t had a big French guy playing all over the world and winning big tournaments so far. It could definitely help France to motivate more people to get into the game. It would be nice to try and be the role model, like Céline is.”

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With the doors already opened to the biggest events in the world of golf, Pavon is in no doubt about the impact the upcoming sporting spectacle could have on his ongoing rise to prominence.

“It will be massive for my career progression,” he explained.

“I have watched the Olympics since I was a kid.

“The Olympics are part of history. It’s great that golf is back, and I can’t wait to represent my country in France.”

Le Golf National – widely regarded as one of the toughest assignments on the DP World Tour – will host the golf at the Olympic Games.

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The 18th hole on the Albatros course at Le Golf National is sure to provide some drama this summer

As the countdown to the start of the men’s tournament reaches 100 days on Tuesday, the 31-year-old knows the test – perhaps more than most as a home player – that awaits those who qualify.

“Tough!” he said when asked for his first thoughts of the venue, best known for staging the 2018 Ryder Cup.

“When they set it up for big tournaments it is really tough.

“There is lots of water around the golf course. The stretch from the 15th to the 18th is probably one of the hardest I have ever played. I would say it is in the top three toughest courses.

“It is going to be a good challenge.”

His first memory of competitive action at Le Golf National was his debut appearance at the Open de France in 2016.

Pavon, then playing on the European Challenge Tour, was making his first start on the DP World Tour and missed the cut – his first that year.

But is his appearance at his national open in 2018, two weeks after finishing in a credible tie for 25th on his Major debut at the U.S. Open, that he then quickly recalls.

“I was full of confidence, and I showed up at the French Open and shot an 85 in the first round,” he says with a wry smile.

“It shows how tough and how cruel Le Golf National can be.”

Life for Pavon has changed substantially since then, however, and he is a far more accomplished golfer.

Having earned dual membership on the PGA TOUR for 2024 after finishing 15th in last season’s Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, he made an instant impact stateside with victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

With it, he made history as the first French winner on the PGA TOUR since 1907, following his debut DP World Tour victory at the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid in October.

After some further notable performances, most recently fulfilling his lifelong ambition of making his debut appearance at Augusta National, he has now positioned himself as a member of the world’s golfing elite.

He finished in a tie for 12th at Augusta National to earn a return visit next year, climbing to a career-high 22nd in the Official World Golf Ranking in the process.

Among the leading continental European players on the global stage, Pavon will hope to maintain his momentum over the coming months to ensure his homecoming at the Paris 2024 Olympics is as successful as it can be.

“It will be big for me to have the home crowds cheering for us,” said Pavon, who is currently set to be joined by fellow DP World Tour and PGA TOUR dual member Victor Perez in representing France on home soil.

“It will for sure help us to give our best.

“But then, it is another golf tournament. Trying to beat the golf course will just be the goal that week.

“If I am in contention going into the last nine holes over the weekend it will just be an incredible experience.”

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