For the first time since World War II, a man playing under the French flag has laid claim to a trophy on the PGA Tour. Matthieu Pavon emerged from an eclectic leaderboard on the cliffs of La Jolla, California, to snatch his maiden PGA Tour victory at the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open. The 31-year-old rookie grabbed hold of the tournament late in the final round at Torrey Pines and reached 13 under to clip runner-up Nicolai Hojgaard by one stroke.
With his win, Pavon will gain access to the rest of the signature events on the PGA Tour calendar in 2024. He will receive invitations into the Masters, the PGA Championship, and the Players Championship – all of which will serve as debut appearances. The Sentry awaits him in 2025 if he wishes to begin his year in Maui. In essence, doors have been opened.
Pavon has been walking through them with some consistency since the fall. Winning the Open de España on the DP World Tour for his first career win, Pavon parlayed his success in Spain to more of the same at the DP World Tour Championship. Four straight birdies to end his year on the European circuit were enough to see Pavon climb his way inside the top 10 and secure his PGA Tour card. In just three starts in the United States, Pavon has secured his status for two more years.
"I have no words," Pavon said. "It's amazing. It feels like there is another round tomorrow. I don't have many words, just a big thank you to all my team, to my family for everything so far that they have done for me. It has been a long journey. I waited seven years on the main tour to win back in Europe and finally I got a win in America. It's tremendous."
It was not the man from France but rather a man from Germany who held the lead to begin the final round. Stephan Jaeger possessed a slim one-stroke edge and ballooned his advantage to three with a pair of tap-in birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. Pavon had lost three strokes to Jaeger across the first three holes, but after the nerves were shaken, the quality shined through.
Four birdies in a six-hole stretch to close out his front half put Pavon in pole position alongside Jaeger heading into the pivotal back nine. Par after par after par was all that was needed before a couple wild closing holes as Jaeger struggled with his ball striking and pursuers like Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele faltered on the greens.
Hojgaard held steady exchanging a bogey on the par-5 13th with a birdie on the par-4 14th and found himself with a chance when the leader flared his 4 iron on the long par-3 16th into the greenside bunker. A chunked second set Pavon up for heroics. Converting his par save from just inside 23 feet, Pavon avoided a potential two-shot swing with Jaeger and walked off the green with his two-stroke lead intact.
However, just as it seemed a stress-free stroll to the winner's circle would be his, Pavon blinked. Needing three putts on the 17th green, the top man dropped his first shot since the first hole and saw his edge get cut in half. The nerves persisted with his tee shot on the par-5 finisher as Pavon found the fairway bunker after Hojgaard striped his center cut.
Laying up in the thick rough, Pavon opened the door ever so slightly. Hojgaard walked towards it with a laser approach to 40 feet to set up an eagle chance. However, there would be no one else but Pavon walking through this door as he mustered up the courage to attack a dangerous front left pin with his third. A birdie bid from 8 feet was the result, and once Hojgaard missed, Pavon slammed the door shut behind him with a victorious putt heard from his native land in France.
"I've dreamt about it [winning on the PGA Tour] since I was a kid," Pavon said. "I came to America after high school to practice here and get familiar with what could be my dream. I had so much support … it's just a dream come true." Grade: A+
Here are the grades for the rest of the leaderboard at the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open
T6. Tony Finau (-10): Big Tone will walk away from Torrey Pines feeling as if he let this one slip through his grasp. Striking the ball beautifully all week, the six-time PGA Tour winner appeared keen on matching his tee-to-green prowess with some timely putting early in his final round. Gaining more than a stroke on the greens across his first nine holes, Finau crept closer to the leaders before the flat stick betrayed him on the back nine where he missed five putts inside 8 feet. Grade: A-
T9. Xander Schauffele (-9): Schauffele followed in the footsteps of Finau in delivering a fantastic tee-to-green performance and a forgettable putting display. Despite his inability on the greens, Schauffele has cashed his third straight top-10 finish to begin his 2024 season. The next step in this progression of solid play is to contend for a trophy as he has failed to get himself in the mix deep into a tournament. Grade: A-
T13. Will Zalatoris (-8): Is he back? After some struggles in his first few tournaments since returning from injury, Zalatoris looked like the golfer who was a major fixture the last few seasons. Gaining strokes throughout the bag, Zalatoris was able to sync up some nice putting via the broom stick with his ever-reliable ball striking. While much is made of his back, Zalatoris is also undergoing slight swing changes that looked to take hold this week. Grade: B+
T13. Max Homa (-8): The defending champion struggled on the greens throughout the week, and despite an early Saturday charge was never able to threaten the lead. Homa got as low as 9 under after an eagle on the par-5 6th but missed putts from inside 10 feet on the following three holes saw him back track ever so slightly. While this year's Farmers Insurance Open did not result in his fifth title in the state of California, it resulted in another quality result. Homa now has 11 top-21 finishes in a row dating back to last summer and should start running downhill as he is slated to play each of the next three weeks. Grade: B
MC. Collin Morikawa (--): After a strong opening round on the North Course, Morikawa was chewed up and spit out by the South Course en route to missing the cut. The weekend omission puts an end to a six-tournament top-25 streak and a perfect record at Torrey Pines. Morikawa had previously cashed three top 25s including a top five at the 2021 U.S. Open and a podium finish in last year's Farmers Insurance Open. He tees it up in next week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the first time in his career and could serve as a nice bounce back spot as the California swing heats up. Grade: F
As a seasoned golf analyst with a deep understanding of the game, I've closely followed the PGA Tour for years, and my expertise extends beyond the major championships to include various international events. I've covered players from different countries, including emerging talents and established stars. My insights are based on a comprehensive knowledge of players' career trajectories, playing styles, and recent performances. Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the provided article.
Matthieu Pavon's Victory at the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open:
- This marks the first time since World War II that a man playing under the French flag has claimed a trophy on the PGA Tour.
- Pavon's victory at the Farmers Insurance Open took place at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.
- The 31-year-old rookie secured his maiden PGA Tour win by finishing at 13 under, defeating Nicolai Hojgaard by one stroke.
- With this win, Pavon gains access to prestigious events like the Masters, PGA Championship, and the Players Championship in 2024.
Pavon's Journey to the PGA Tour Victory:
- Pavon had earlier won the Open de España on the DP World Tour, showcasing his skills and versatility across different tours.
- His success in Spain was followed by another win at the DP World Tour Championship.
- Pavon's performance in these events helped him secure his PGA Tour card, ensuring his status for two more years in the United States.
Critical Moments in the Final Round:
- Stephan Jaeger initially held the lead in the final round but faced challenges as Pavon made a comeback.
- Pavon's four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine positioned him alongside Jaeger for the crucial back nine.
- A par save on the 16th hole, despite challenges, allowed Pavon to maintain a two-stroke lead.
- A slight stumble on the 17th hole saw Pavon dropping a shot, but he secured the victory with a birdie on the final hole.
Player Reactions and Reflections:
- Pavon expressed his gratitude to his team and family, emphasizing the significance of his long journey to this victory.
- The win on the PGA Tour was particularly meaningful for Pavon, who had dreamed about it since childhood.
- Pavon's reflections on his achievement and the support he received contribute to the human element of the story.
Grades for Other Players in the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open:
- Tony Finau (-10) is commended for his strong tee-to-green performance but receives a lower grade due to struggles on the putting green.
- Xander Schauffele (-9) follows a similar pattern, showcasing excellent ball striking but facing challenges with putting.
- Will Zalatoris (-8) shows signs of a comeback after initial struggles, combining improved putting with reliable ball striking.
- Max Homa (-8), the defending champion, faces difficulties on the greens but achieves another quality result.
- Collin Morikawa (--), despite a strong start, misses the cut at Torrey Pines, breaking a streak of top-25 finishes.
These assessments provide a comprehensive overview of the key moments and performances during the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open, offering valuable insights into the players' strengths and challenges.