[PHOTO: Andrew Redington]

Of the 10 DP World Tour players who played well enough on the Old World circuit to earn PGA Tour cards at the end of 2023, Matthieu Pavon was one of the least heralded. Yes, the 31-year-old Frenchman was clearly a man in form, having secured his new-found status by claiming the Spanish Open title and making clutch birdies on each of the last four holes in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. But few observers expected a supposed journeyman who took 13 years to win an event on the DP World Tour to make much of an impact across the Atlantic.

How wrong we were.

This week Pavon is making his Masters debut on the back of victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and two other top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. But here’s the thing: the world No.25 is not the first member of his family to visit Augusta National. And therein lies a touching tale.

In 2009, Pavon’s parents – mother Beatrice is a golf instructor and father Michel is a former soccer star with Bordeaux – made their own pilgrimage to the Masters. During their visit, Beatrice buried a Euro coin as a good luck charm on what was then the practice range. The hope was that her then-16-year-old son would one day be good enough to play his way into golf’s most famous tournament.

And so it has come to pass, a moment mere and pere are back to share with Matthieu, as well as his brothers.

There will, however, be no fairytale ending, at least as far as Beatrice’s 15-year-old gesture is concerned. Chances are, her modest piece of treasure would be almost impossible to locate. The old Augusta National driving range closed after the 2009 Masters, replaced by a vast new facility that is used today. Knowing that, Pavon has no intention of instituting a surely fruitless search. But what he is seriously considering is doing something similar for his 2-year-old son.

“I think it’s part of the story, and it’s only better that that coin maybe stays here forever,” said Pavon, whose best finish in his four previous major appearances is T-25 in the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills. “The only thing we’re going to do now is probably I’m going to get a coin myself, bury it somewhere for maybe wishing that my son one day will come as a player over here. I don’t know if he wants to play golf. It doesn’t matter. But maybe I wish that. It would be fun if in the next 20, 30 years my son gets here as a player. That would be an awesome story.”

Indeed. Almost on a par with all that Pavon has already achieved as a member of the PGA Tour.