She dug a hole into Augusta National. What popped out is why you love the Masters

Matthieu Pavon

Matthieu Pavon — and why you love the Masters.

Darren Riehl/GOLF

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Beatrice Pavon dug a hole into Augusta National.

Sometimes, the leads write themselves. But let’s carry on. 

And into that hole in Augusta National she left one Euro coin. And onto that Euro coin she offered a few words. 

She then buried it during the first full week of April 2009. But told her teenage son about it a couple months later back home in France.

Go get it. 

That’s why I put it there.

Go to the Masters in 10 years and get back my coin. 

But he failed. It took him 15.

This week, for the first time, Matthieu Pavon is playing the Masters. 

What a story, right? From an Augusta hole sprouted a potential green jacket.  

He retold it to a reporter a while back. Talked about it on CNN, too. Freaking CNN! To recap, the grounds here at Augusta may be holy to some, but they’re also almost impossible to mine. But Beatrice Pavon did. Made a wish and saw it granted, too. 

But now you dig. 

You call out to Europe, where two of his closest friends and fellow pros tell you all about the road to Augusta, but no, we’re not talking Magnolia Lane. Pavon’s 31. He’s been a pro for 11 years. Things aren’t linear. They tell you about the dude, though, who may have found something over gin and tonics. Or maybe not, though they went down well. They tell you he’s confident, though the Frenchmen use much more colorful English than that. They also tell you he’s always present. From South Africa, his coach tells you he’s single-minded, which is good to be both when you’re ranked somewhere in the triple digits in the world, and when you’re in the top 50. 

You call out to Mexico, where a French legend tells you what this all means back home. And what it could do. 

You call out to Georgia, USA, where a brother of a Masters winner tells you he saw Pavon do the impossible. And has a story about magic. 

And at Augusta, you catch back up with Pavon. His mother is close by. 

The coin is too. 

* * *

Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Matthieu Pavon
Mike Lorenzo-Vera, left, and Matthieu Pavon in 2017. Getty Images

“Just seeing him at the golf course, I’m not kidding, to me, he looked taller. Yeah, like this kind of guy, oh! He became bigger. He didn’t change anything, of course, size-wise. He just saw the guy — he wanted to be more confident and the way he spoke was like, so positive, man. Positive, but not bulls**t positive. He was not trying to convince anybody or trying to convince himself. You could feel that his way to speak was coming from the heart and everything was logical to him. And well, yeah, there you go. Boom, boom.” 

Mike Lorenzo-Vera, from his home in France, is telling you how he called it. The longtime French pro predicted his friend would do this. He’d even told Pavon’s caddie, Mark Sherwood. Last October on a range in Madrid, he’d seen the change noted above.

And well, yeah, there you go. Boom, boom. 

But change also implies Pavon had been something different. His resume suggests it. He turned pro in 2013. Battled chipping yips for a period. Debated quitting. Eventually incorporated the cross-handed method also used by 2022 U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick. Played on the Alps Tour and Challenge Tour, European-based circuits. Reached the DP World Tour in 2017. Stayed there. He had three-runners-up. Three thirds. Never won.     

Then he did, days after that range visit, at the acciona Open de España, where Jon Rahm, notably, tied for ninth. 

Then, behind a birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish last November at the DP World Tour Championship, he grabbed a PGA Tour card

Then, in his third PGA Tour start, he won the Farmers Insurance Open. (More on how in a sec.) 

You call Lorenzo-Vera. 

He wants to tell you all about his friend.  

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I think I know the answer to this, but how big is that in a pro’s game to flip that switch mentally?

“It’s insane,” Lorenzo-Vera says, “because golf-wise, if you look at him playing golf, I can’t see anything very impressive about him. He has the proper swing speed, OK? But he’s a big fader, so the ball doesn’t really carry considering his speed. He’s like a one-dimensional player so nothing super impressive golf-wise, but he’s very correct. He’s very good at golf and he makes the good decisions. And he has a huge pair of ba**s.”

[The author LOLs. The author tries to continue.]

Do you spend a lot of time with him away from tournaments or during tournaments, like dinners, meals?

“We had a few beers together, you can say that.” 

I’m a beer man. What’s his favorite beer?

“I don’t know. I don’t know. The only thing I can tell you is that at the Edinburgh Airport, there’s a gin and tonic bar that worked really well for him before Madrid. We were actually face to face at the airport going down to Madrid, and it was a crazy trip because it was storms and everything so we had to go through Dublin and blah, blah, blah. But yeah, we got drunk together just before Madrid. And apparently gin and tonics work for him.”

[The author LOLs. The author tries to continue.]

Based on those times at the bar, those times at dinner, what kind of guy is he like? How would you describe him?

“So simple, man. So simple. A lot of humor. And loves his meat. Loves the wine. You know, we French, man.” 


“We need good bread, we need a good table, we need a laugh and good food. And good wine. There’s nothing more specific, to be honest.” 

Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Matthieu Pavon
Mike Lorenzo-Vera’s text to Matthieu Pavon after he won the Farmers Insurance Open.

When he won at the Farmers, what did you say on the phone call or the text?

“The text was — well, wait, I have the phone here. …  

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I got it, I got it, I got it.” 

All right, got to hear it. Have to hear it. 

“I told him — oh yeah, f**k, I didn’t know I was that stupid. Basically I told him, it’s going to be a bit short for the P1 because he’s a big McLaren fan. So I told him, it’s going to be a bit short of the P1, but with two or three victories more, you’re going to be fine. Well done, my friend. What you have done is great for me, you have no idea. Thank you very much.” 

How did he respond?

“Thanks a lot, Mitch. Mitch is my nickname. With a heart.” 

If he won Sunday and you saw him wearing the green jacket, what would your text be to him that night? 

“Something like, you have to be f**king shi**ing me. Basically more or less. Sorry, it’s not very polite, but he knows that. It comes from the heart.” 

That’s what I would text my friends. I get that. I totally understand that. 

Lorenzo-Vera wants to add one more thing. 

“You have to understand that this guy comes from hell, golf-wise. The guy couldn’t chip. He had last year a period in his game at the beginning of the year, like he couldn’t really drive the ball. If he chips back-handed, it’s because he just couldn’t chip. So to build the game where he’s now, with so much demons that he had a long time ago, it’s insane. To me, it’s insane.”

Romain Langasque, Matthieu Pavon
Romain Langasque, left, and Matthieu Pavon in 2022. Getty Images

Here, you message Romain Langasque, who’s kind enough to talk at the moment despite being somewhere ridiculously more scenic than your office chair. He played in the Masters in 2016. The Frenchman’s also close to our subject. 

He was just on the phone with Pavon, in fact. 

Langasque talks of 4 a.m. texts. Of tears.

I talked with Mike Lorenzo-Vera, and he had mentioned that before Madrid he saw Matthieu carrying himself ‘differently.’ Walking taller, so to speak. Did you see that? 

“Yeah, what Mike said I think it’s true. I think he also has been much better on maybe his confidence and his attitude on the golf course. I know sort of what he was saying — I mean, winning on the DP World Tour was a huge thing, and in Madrid, he was saying that he was focusing on his [play]book all of the tournament. He didn’t try to escape from the book when he was under pressure, when he was on the golf course, when there were many people around. Just focusing on the book was what he was focused on and that was working well.” 

What’s he like?

“I’ve known Matt for maybe now 12 years, I would say, when I was at the end of my amateur career, because we had the same coach at this time. And then we just became very friendly and very close friends because we were spending time together at tournaments but also back home. I would describe him as a nice guy, hard worker and enjoy life. I mean, family guy. But I know he’s the kind of friend that if I need to call him at 4 in the morning because I am in trouble, he’s going to reply and say, ‘What can I do?’ And he’s going to do whatever to help. Yeah, that’s Matt.” 

Any favorite Matthieu stories?

“I mean, we’ve been through the best times and the worst times with Matthieu because we were sharing a lot of rooms. I seen him crying because of a missed cut or because of s**t. And the same with me. So we have been in the up and the down together. I’ve always tried to be there for you and he’s always tried to be there with me.”

One more call, to South Africa, where his longtime coach, Jamie Gough, is about to board a flight to Augusta. It’ll be his 12th Masters. He’ll be there for Pavon and Ryan Fox. He wants you to stop by and say hello when you’re in Georgia. 

Today, you want to know one thing. One word. 


How’d Pavon go from struggling with the chipping yips and a fair DP World Tour career — to this? To being on the cover of the latest E’Quipe magazine? To having a nosy reporter call all over the earth to hear about him?

To playing at the Masters?

Has he persevered? Something different?

Gough thinks Pavon’s career arc will look like Nick Price.

One of golf’s premier ball-strikers, he won three majors after he turned 35. 

“You could call it perseverance, but you know, as a golfer, everyone matures at different ages and matures at different times,” he said. “And I think Matt has almost been a natural progression to just getting better every year. A lot of guys come out fired up really early in their careers. You could call Matt a slightly late developer, but every year, he’s just gotten a little better. His stats have gotten a little better. He’s progressed every year. He’s never really had a massive downturn. 

“So I would say no real surprise that he’s continued to get better. He’s quite an analytical guy and he looks at his stats every year and he says I got to get a little better at this and a little better at that. And he’s progressed every year in the sense of just getting a little better. The fact that he’s done as well in his first part of his stage in America, yeah, it’s obviously been tremendous. It’s been no real surprise to people around him. Everyone’s kind of expected a lot from Matt, but being patient with his progress.”

* * *

Jean Van de Velde
Jean Van de Velde last year. Getty Images

“Because the likes of Matthieu Pavon is setting a different example. And he’s basically sending a message that you’re a Frenchman, you been born in the same country, you been educated pretty much the same, you have the same culture, and why couldn’t you do what he’s been doing. He’s just another link to the chain. You know what I’m saying is a guy who’s taking it a little further and then there’s going to be another one, if not him, who’s going to take it a little farther in the near future and even more and even more. So I truly, truly believe that winning a major is just a matter of time. And it will happen.”  

Jean Van de Velde is talking to you about French golf. From Mexico. As an instructor at the Punta Mita Golf Club, the longtime French pro has found paradise.  

The past has its stories. There’ve been Frenchmen who’ve won all over the world. Victor Perez is a three-time winner on the DP World Tour, and he’s now on the PGA Tour with Pavon. Victor Dubisson is a two-time DP World Tour champ. Langasque is a one-timer. Lorenzo-Vera has five runners-up on that circuit. Going back a little, Thomas Levet won six times on the European circuit, and Van de Velde twice, while Arnaud Massy is the first and only Frenchman to win a major, doing so at the 1907 Open Championship.  

Others nearly matched Massy, and here, it gets uncomfortable. Gregory Havet was runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Open. Levet was second at the 2002 Open Championship, after he bogeyed the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, which followed a four-man playoff. Van de Velde led by three on the 72nd hole of the 1999 Open Championship, before not leading by three on the 72nd hole, and we’ll leave it at, as the Frenchman will no doubt revisit the scene this year, on its 25th anniversary

Besides, the tone here is joy. 

And you must watch this video below. It was posted by Levet on Instagram, minutes after Pavon won at the Farmers. 

Cover your ears, or not, if you like a good scream. 

Notably, Levet told a writer with the PGA Tour that Pavon had spent a few months with him in the U.S. as a teen. He knows Beatrice Pavon. A lot of French players do. She’s an instructor herself in France, while Matthieu’s dad, Michel, was a longtime football (soccer) pro. Matthieu had tried Michel’s sport for a while — there’s an old VHS tape of dad winning the French Championship that he’s worn out — but he stuck with mom’s. He said it was mom who taught him how to have fun with the game, before he journeyed to America for further instruction. It was mom who took Michel to that ’09 Masters as a 40th birthday gift. It was mom he called after the Farmers and said, hey, you’re going back. 

It’s her son who could inspire others. 

Van de Velde thinks so. Both he and Levet are at Augusta this week, analysts for French TV. 

And what if Pavon won? Van de Velde did say it was coming. Why not Sunday?

Someone who’s seen Pavon up close at his highest moment can also see what the party would be like in France. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Mark Immelman said, “if he pulled it off, that they wouldn’t have a ticker-tape parade down the Champs Elysees for him. Because that’s what a big deal it is. Like if you think of Adam Scott going back to Australia when he won the Masters, the hero’s welcome he received. You win the Masters, and you’ve achieved almost the unachievable because it happens only once a year, everything’s got to align for you to pull off the victory and you have your very best mentally, physically and emotionally and not only the players know it, but the fans know it, too. And so to win the Masters and win the Open and those sorts of things, those are just special achievements. 

“And in a country — those French folks are rabid about their sports, whether it’s soccer or rugby or whatever the case might be. They are big on their golf. You saw the Ryder Cup there. So I’m certain if he were to win the green jacket, they might light the Eiffel Tower up in green. 

“In fact, I think they probably will.”

* * *

“When he hit that shot, I mean, that — the first thing I said to my colleague, my on-course spotter, Craig, I was like, good grief, that could be one of the shots of the year. And then for him to make the putt over the top of that — I mean, I would’ve bet my house on the fact that just five would have been a super-hero move and four would have been almost impossible. So yes, long-winded, I was there, and to this day, I will remember that shot he hit.” 

Mark Immelman, from his home in the U.S., is describing magic. He’s seen it. He was stunned by it. Still is. 

These days, he works as an instructor in Georgia and as an on-course analyst for CBS. He was there for Pavon’s win in January at the Farmers Insurance Open, though for much of the final half-hour at Torrey Pines, Pavon was hitting it around like he’d finish depressingly. On the 71st hole, he bogeyed. His lead was one. On the 72nd hole, he hit stroke one into a fairway bunker and hit stroke two quickly and carelessly, dropping his ball into the overgrown left rough, where it burrowed about 150 yards from the hole — and 125 from a lake fronting the back-to-front sloping 18th green. A layup was a thought. Get your par, get out. Maybe his lead would hold up, maybe it wouldn’t, but there would probably be a playoff. Sherwood, his caddie, wanted that play. Pavon didn’t. He wouldn’t be short. Not now. His heart was about to pop out of his light blue shirt. He could get an iron on it. He hit. It looked like an uppercut. Grass flew left. Pavon stepped back. 

Eight feet to the right of the hole. 

Shoot, let’s set that up better actually. We can do better. 

After the chipping yips, after the Alps Tour, after the Challenge Tour, after the DP World Tour, after no wins on the DP World Tour, after G and T’s at Edinburgh, after the Madrid breakthrough, after the Dubai sprint, Pavon was 8 feet away from a PGA Tour win No. 1. 

And calling his mom. And saying, hey, you know your Euro coin. Pack your shovel. You’re going back. 

Immelman was watching from behind. In the TV game, you ready for a playoff when one might happen. His crew was taking bets. Would he make it, and we’re done for the day? Would he miss, and we get OT?

“And everyone around me was like, he’s going to miss and we’re going to a playoff,” Immelman said. “And I was like, I really think he’s going to make it. It’s almost like this is destiny after hitting that shot.”

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Here, you remember something. 

One of the people I talked to, one of his friends, one of his fellow friends on the DP World Tour, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, he said he thought that the attitude Matthieu had was if this shot goes in the water, if I hit it long, if I hit it wherever, so what. Let’s just do it. That’s a good way to think about that. In the moment, it’s maybe harder to pull off, but that was interesting to hear. 

“Well, look, this gets back to the grander conversation here, which is the thrill of just playing on the PGA Tour,” Immelman said. “And I think sometimes folks make light of that. I tell you as a foreign person who now is an American citizen and lives over here and gets to work on the Tour, it’s what we dream of doing. And once you get there, it’s like you’re playing with house money. And so I can absolutely understand what Mike is saying, where he’s like, golly, I’ve got a chance, I may as well go after it. 

“After that, there’s no real need to — I mean, if I lay up and I finish third, that’s still a big achievement. Because the way he had played leading in, I feel like it was almost to a place where it was almost guaranteeing the fact that he was in Signature Events and stuff because of how he had played. So again, it’s that situation where you have the chance, go ahead and take it.”

Pavon birdied. Ball found the left-center.

He won.    

You tell Immelman about the coin. He then tells you a story. 

Early during the second full week of April 2008, he and his younger brother were working on an Augusta practice green. Entering the Masters, Trevor Immelman had shown fair-at-best form, and he was, by all intents and purposes and Vegas prognostications, a dark horse. But ignore that. On that green, they’d be using a ball marker to line up putts. At some point, somebody looked at it. It was marked by a youth ministry group that they were close to. How’d that get there? Who cares! They were stunned. Magic does that, remember?

Mark found his dad. 

Told him his son was going to win the Masters. 

“And that’s the thing about the Masters,” he said. 

“There’s more to it than just the golf course and the tournament and the green jacket. There’s a spiritual something to the event, to the grounds, and so it sort of awakens this kind of a feeling within people when they go there. You know, you get wowed by the color of the golf course and by the pristine condition and all of those sorts of elements, but it tickles your senses and it certainly strikes a certain chord within your soul. 

“And so I can imagine his mom did that. And I’m certain she said a prayer. I’m sure that’s not a lie, whatsoever. 

“And I’m just so happy that a dream like that would come to fruition.”

* * *

Matthieu Pavon, Mark Sherwood
Matthieu Pavon and caddie Mark Sherwood on Monday. Getty Images

Beatrice Pavon dug a hole into Augusta National.

And into that hole in Augusta National she left one Euro coin. 

And that’s where the coin will stay. 


Stay with us, though. Sometimes, the endings write themselves. 

This week, everyone’s here. Beatrice. Michel. Family and friends. Matthieu is playing. They’re watching, but soaking it in too. They’re wearing out the camera. On Monday, near the 9th green, Beatrice poses with the leaderboard in the background. Veteran move. You talk to Michel. Everyone’s happy, he says. 

You talk to the pro. 

He tells you about seeing the place live and in living color. It ain’t like it is on TV. It’s gorgeous here. Amen Corner is as pure as it gets. The Magnolia Lane drive is a dream. It’s hilly, though. No matter. 

He talks of the past six months. The rise. About the moment with Lorenzo-Vera in the airport. (“So definitely when I go to Madrid this year, I know which bar I have to stop to,” he said.) 

You start to think. 

He’d be here without the coin, right?

Probably so. 

But tell everyone about it, and that he delivered, and that his mom is back, and you start touching on all the feels, though one tickles more than the others. You heard it from everyone. 

You ask the star about it. 

I talked to Mike Lorenzo-Vera before he came here, I talked to Romain, I talked to your coach, and they say your story inspires. How do you react to that?

“Yeah, I’m glad with that,” he said. “They are good guys, guys I really love and spend a lot of time with them. So being recognized by those guys that I love a lot, it’s really meaningful for me.

“As I said, I’m just driven by good values or at least I try. Like hard work, humility. This is all we can do, discipline, hard work and humility. If some of the people found out — found some inspiration through that, I’m really happy if I can help for anything.”

But the coin will stay, near the old range, near Magnolia Lane. Pavon says he didn’t search for it. He kinda likes that it’s here. He likes that it’ll be here forever. You can appreciate that.  

But it shouldn’t be alone. 

Pavon has a young son. He has no idea if Aaron will play golf. 

But something here will be waiting for him if he one day does. 

“It would be fun if in the next 20, 30 years my son gets here as a player. 

“That would be an awesome story.”

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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