The Punter

The Punter's De-brief: Fabulous Frenchman causes another shock at the Farmers

Golfer Matthieu Pavon
Matthieu Pavon with teh Farmers Insurance Open trophy

Thorbjorn Olesen has won his eighth DP World Tour title and Matthieu Pavon is the latest surprise winner on the PGA Tour. Our man looks back at their victories here...

  • Hojgaard twins both trade at odds-on

  • Pavon the latest PGA Tour longshot winner

  • Oleson romps to victory in Ras Al Khaimah

Frenchman, Matthieu Pavon, won on the DP World Tour at the 182nd attempt at the Open de Espana in October last year but prior to that, he'd been hopeless in-contention.

On three separate occasions he'd led at halfway and he'd finished 31st, 10th and 32nd, so his wire-to-wire victory in Spain was something of a surprise. And it looked like it may have been a one-off when he finished 15th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November, having been tied at the top at halfway.

Pavon had missed the cut in his final start on the DP World Tour in 2023 but after an excellent seventh in the Sony Open and a top-40 finish in The American Express, the 31-year-old had started nicely on the PGA Tour, having earnt his card via a 15th placed finish on the Race to Dubai on the DP World Tour last season.

Other than majors and events co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour, they were Pavon's only two starts on the PGA Tour so despite his reasonable form, he didn't look overly big at around 230.0229/1 before the off at the Farmers Insurance Open.

I did briefly consider the chances of the Frenchman as he's such a strong putter, but I'd be lying if I said he was ever going to be a selection given the horrendous record of tournament debutants.

Up until this year, Jon Rahm, who won the Farmers in 2017, had been the only winner of the event to be playing Torrey Pines for the first time since it moved there way back in 1968!

Pavon began the final day just one stroke behind the 54-hole leader, Stephan Jaeger, but after a bogey at the opening hole, and a pair of birdies by the German at two and three, he was soon trailing by four.

Jaeger, who was generally a 100.099/1 chance before the off, was matched at a low of 1.645/8 on the fourth hole when it looked like he may extend his lead to as many as five strokes.

His closest challenger and playing partner, Nicolai Hojgaard, had missed his par putt so the gap was four but Jaegar missed his birdie putt from five-and-half feet to get to -14, moments after Pavon had holed his birdie from six feet to get to ten-under-par.

That turned the day around in the favour of the Frenchman and by the time they reached the ninth tee, the pair were tied at the top.

Although the leading pack had started nicely, the Farmers has a habit of going the way of an off the pace winner and it was Tony Finau that made the biggest early move.

Having been trading at around the 25/126.00 mark when trailing by four through 54-holes, the 34-year-old hit a low of just 2.89/5 after a fast start but his challenge was over after back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14.

Jaeger's challenge unravelled with a run of three fives at holes 12, 13, and 14 and when Pavon holed a bomb for par at the par three 16th from 24 feet before nailing his drive at the 17th, it looked like a done deal.

The Frenchman was matched at a low of 1.331/3 when he had three feet for par at the penultimate hole to take a two-stroke advantage up the par five 18th but he pulled his putt left of the hole and it was game on.

With Pavon bungling along from tee to bunker to rough, Hojgaard was matched at a low of 1.618/13 when he found the green in two. With the Frenchman in a terrible spot after two shots, it looked long odds-on that the pair would be at least tied after regulation play but then Pavon produced this remarkable approach from the thick rough...

Hojgaard rolled his eagle putt to within tap in range for the birdie four and a possible playoff but Pavon was having none of it. He rolled in his eight-footer for birdie to become the first Frenchman to win on the PGA Tour.

It really is quite a story given Pavon has defied all the odds to go from winless journeyman pro on the DP World Tour to PGA Tour winner in the space of just four months.

The Farmers Insurance Open was the fourth event of the new PGA Tour season and Pavon is the fourth winner that was very difficult to spot before the off, following victories for Chris Kirk (230.0229/1) and 1000.0999/1 chances, Grayson Murray and Nick Dunlap, but it's a very different story on the DP World Tour where we've had yet another extremely plausible victor...

Olesen cruises to win number eight

Pre-event 20/121.00 chance, Thorbjorn Olesen, was matched at a high of 60.059/1 after a slow start to the Ras Al Khaimah Championship.

A pedestrian three-under-par 69 on Thursday saw the 34-year-old trailing by seven after round one as he sought to win his eighth DP World Tour event but rounds of 62 and 63 on Friday and Saturday saw him take control.

Olesen wins Ras Al Khaimah Championship.jpg

Leading by four, Olesen was trading at around 1.321/3 and he shortened up again after a birdie at the opening hole but it wasn't all plain sailing after that.

A double bogey six followed at two after he was distracted on the tee and although he restored parity for the day with a long-range birdie putt at the par five third, by the time he stood on the tee at the par five eighth, he'd been caught by fellow Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, who had played his first seven holes in four-under.

Bidding to emulate his twin, Nicolai, who'd won the event two years ago, and to go one better than he'd gone the day before on the PGA Tour, the 11/112.00 pre-event favourite, Rasmus, was matched at just 1.84/5 but everything changed again on the par five eighth.

Hojgaard shanked his second shot into the desert, which led to a double-bogey six, and Olesen hit this stunning approach to set up an eagle three.

Olesen never looked like losing after that and with Rasmus bogeying the last, his margin of victory was an impressive six strokes in the end.

The Ras Al Khaimah Championship was the ninth tournament of the 2023/24 season and in stark contrast to the PGA Tour, Olesen was the ninth well-fancied winner.

I'll be back in the morning with next week's previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


New customers only. Bet £10 on the Betfair Sportsbook at odds of min EVS (2.0) and receive £40 in FREE Bet Builders, Accumulators or Multiples to use on any sport. T&Cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.