The Punter

The Punter's De-Brief: Pavon overcomes demons to triumph in Madrid

  • Max Liu
  • 4:00 min read
French golfer Matthieu Pavon
Matthieu Pavon enjoyed a maiden DPWT victory in Madrid

Pavon more than held on in Madrid while Kim was a winner in Vegas again on a weekend when course form was key on the PGA Tour and DPWT, as Steve Rawlings reflects in his de-brief...

  • Nerveless Pavon triumphs in Madrid

  • Maiden win acclaimed one of best ever

  • Course form key again as Kim wins Shriners

Prior to this week, Frenchman, Matthieu Pavon, had been especially disappointing in contention and his record when leading at halfway on the DP World Tour had been horrendous.

The 30-year-old had led the Oman Open by two in 2018, but finished 31st. He was tied for the lead at the Irish Open a few months late, but finished 10th, and he was two strokes clear of the field at halfway at the Italian Open in May this year but finished 32nd!

He'd been through the mill over the years, and it was long odds-on that the weekend would deliver more disappointment.

Having led the Open de España after rounds one and two at Club de Campo in Madrid, I thought the pre-event 120.0119/1 chance looked opposable at halfway. But he couldn't have been any more impressive - shooting rounds of 66 and 64 over the weekend to win by four.

And had I not backed the two players who finished second and third - Zander Lombard and Nathan Kimsey - at 75.074/1 and 18.017/1 respectively at halfway, I may have enjoyed Pavon's victory a bit more!

Pavon emotional after maiden win

It's always nice to see someone overcome their demons and his interview afterwards was extremely moving.

When Sky's Inci Mehmet mentioned to Pavon after his win that he had family in Spain, that his grandfather had been from Madrid and that his victory could have been written in the stars, the emotion poured out of the DP World Tour's brand-new winner.

Pointing to the sky and struggling to speak, Pavon responded:

"He's up there, so, I think he would be very proud of me."

Unable to contain the tears, he added: "I'm sorry but a part of my heart is here in Spain for sure. My grandfather was from here, lived in France because of Franco, and I don't know, I just, I just, I just really thought about him on the course today and it was really hard to keep the chills inside but now I can just let him go a little bit."

Mark Roe described it as the best front-running display by someone that hadn't won before that he'd ever seen and I'm struggling to recall a more impressive performance by a Tour maiden.

Kimsey hit a low of 3.259/4, Lombard 5.24/1 and Marcel Siem hit a low of 8.07/1 when he eagled the 15th to get to within a stroke but Pavon never really looked like losing.

Kim rallies to defend Shriners title

Over on the PGA Tour, a successful title defence looked most unlikely for Tom Kim after he'd double-bogeyed the 18th (his ninth hole of round two) on Friday morning.

The pre-event 14.013/1 favourite was matched at as high as 95.094/1 as it looked like he might not even make the cut, but he rallied on the front nine (his back nine) to make it through.

Trailing by six and trading at 36.035/1 going into the weekend, Kim still had plenty to do but for the second year running, he shot a 62 in round three to hit the front and he went into yesterday's fourth and final round tied for the lead with Lanto Griffin and Adam Hadwin and trading at around 11/43.75.

After birdies at three of his first four holes, Kim went odds-on, and he was matched at just 1.748/11 before back-to-back bogeys at five and six saw him slip back into the pack.

Taylor Pendrith was matched at just 2.6413/8 when he hit the front with a tap in birdie at the sixth hole. The likes of Alex Noren (hit a low of 8.07/1), Beau Hossler (traded at 5.59/2), K.H Lee (matched at 4.1), and Adam Hadwin (traded at a low of 3.211/5) all threatened to take the title but Kim rallied superbly after the two bogeys.

The 21-year-old birdied the ninth before assuming command with three birdies in four from the 12th but his victory was sealed at the par five 16th when his nearest challenger, Hadwin, who eventually finished second, beaten by a stroke, made a catastrophic mistake from the fairway.

Course form key at both events

Course specialist and defending champion Jon Rahm finished inside the top-10 again at Club de Campo, despite putting deplorably for most of the week. The runner-up Lombard now has three top-ten finishes 10 and the winner Pavon had finished second to Rahm 12 months ago. And it was a similar story in Vegas.

Patrick Cantlay, who was absent this year as he got married straight after the Ryder Cup, has a remarkable record at TPC Summerlin and course form stands up brilliantly there too.

Following wins for Kevin Na in 2019 and Martin Laird in 2020, Kim is the third player to take the title for a second time in just five years!

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