GolfDifferent Strokes

Different Strokes: Pavon’s switch of codes paying off handsomely

Former footballer makes his breakthrough win at Torrey Pines in just his third event on PGA Tour

No questioning the rich sporting DNA of Matthieu Pavon, whose life-changing win in the Farmers Insurance Open will require a sit-down with his team this week to work out a new schedule going forward.

As a teenager, much of young Matthieu’s sporting ambitions were to follow in the footsteps of his father Michel, who played professionally in France and Spain and won the Ligue 1 title in his time with Bordeaux.

“We had a VHS tape with all the highlights of his seasons. [I] probably watched that 100 times with my brothers. This is how inspiring is my family. I mean, all they could really do with me is like teach great values, the taste of the effort and the grind and just trying to be as humble as you can and do your best every time you show up,” recalled Pavon after his breakthrough PGA Tour win, in just his third event stateside.

He added: “I played [football] for 13 years. I wasn’t too bad, to be fair. That was a tough time for me because you’re always like the son of Michel, my dad . . .. I felt like at that time team sport wasn’t for me. I’ve always been very professional on everything I do and I mean, we were 11 players and when you’re 15, 16, they start to go out, they start maybe to drink alcohol and I wasn’t. So I was a bit mad, I mean, losing games when you’ve done your best and you know you’re in shape and stuff kind of made me angry. It [felt] like individual sport was the best option.”


Switching his sporting ambition from following his father’s footsteps as a footballer to golf was actually influenced by the fact his mother, Beatrice, was a golf instructor. A wise decision, it would seem, to switch.

Pavon’s win at Torrey Pines moved him from 78 to a career best 34th in the world rankings and will see him play all four Majors this year and, likely, earn a place on the France team for the Olympics in Paris. His new itinerary gets going this week, where he is in the field for the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am, one of the new signature events on the PGA Tour.

Power joins PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council

Séamus Power has been brought on to the new Player Advisory Council (PAC), which consults with the PGA Tour policy board and commissioner Jay Monahan on matters affecting the tour.

The Waterford man is one of 16 players on the PAC which interacts with the tour’s board of directors but which also serves as a feeder system for future board members, with the PAC chairman being elected to fill future openings on the board as player directors complete their term.

A vote to determine who will be named as PAC chairman will be between Camilo Villegas and Kevin Streelman, with the successful candidate succeeding Jordan Spieth as a player director on the policy board next year.

Word of Mouth

“She was like, ‘I thought you were going to send me into labour’” – Nelly Korda recalling the post-tournament phone call with her pregnant sister Jessica after beating Lydia Ko in a playoff to win the LPGA Drive On Championship.

By the Numbers: 2

There are just two Irish players in the 80-man field for the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am, one of the new signature events – with a $20 million purse – on the PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy, who has a chance to overtake Scottie Scheffler as world number one this week, and Séamus Power are both playing. Shane Lowry had hoped to get one of four sponsor’s invitations but those went instead to Peter Malnati, Maverick McNealy, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson.

On this day: January 30th, 1972

The legend of Paul Harney was further embellished when he won the Andy Williams San Diego Open at Torrey Pines, giving the American his sixth career win on the PGA Tour after rounds of 68-71-66-70 for a total of 13-under-par 275 earned him a one-stroke winning margin over Hale Irwin.

On receiving the trophy, and a cheque for $30,000, Harney – aged 42 – was asked if his plans for the next week included playing in the Hawaiian Open. “I’m going home,” he replied, which summed up his philosophy.

In effect, Harney by then was a part-time player on the circuit, dipping in and out and playing on average eight events a year, as he doubled up as a club professional.

Harney played the tour full-time from 1955 to 1962, thereafter fulfilling a promise he’d made to his wife that he would only play part-time once their oldest child started school. Harney was as good as his word, in taking a family-first approach to his golf in support of his wife Patricia and their six children.

And Harney made good use of his tour winnings, establishing his Paul Harney Golf Club back home in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

X-Twitter Twaddle

What a weekend for Danish golf ... @Thorbjornolesen congratulations on a great performance this week. Unstoppable. Nico and Rasmus continue their paths towards the top of the game. It’s a joy to watch – Thomas Bjorn, who pioneered professional golf in Denmark, enjoying the next generation of stars.

Special #8 Thank you to everyone involved at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship for a fantastic tournament. Feels great to win in the UAE for the first time too – Thorbjorn Olesen, who is newly resident in Dubai, on his eighth career win on the DP World Tour.

Our friend Malcolm Gregson. Greggo was generous, kind in his guidance and encouragement to young rookie pros. Sandy Lyle, Mark James and I will never forget his selfless generosity, steering us young pros during our early days on tour. Malcolm cared! RIP – Ken Brown’s tribute to former tour player Malcolm Gregson.

In the Bag: Nelly Korda – LPGA Drive On Championship

Driver: TaylorMade Qi10 Max (10.5 degrees)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 (15 degrees)

5-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 (21 degrees)

Hybrid: PING G425 (26 degrees)

Irons: TaylorMade P770 (5), TaylorMade P7MC (6-PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG4 (50 and 54 degrees), Vokey Design WedgeWorks (58 degrees)

Putter: Logan Olson prototype

Ball: TaylorMade TPx

Know the Rules

Q: In a match, a player’s ball came to rest beside some steps attached to a boundary fence. The steps interfered with the player’s swing, so they took free relief before playing their next stroke. What is the ruling?

A: There is no penalty as the player was entitled to take free relief (this is covered in definition of boundary object – any gate, steps, bridge or similar construction used for getting over or through a boundary wall or fence are not part of the boundary object).