PINEHURST, N.C. — A good golf swing isn’t just one that works. A good golf swing is one when you understand why it works.

For Matthieu Pavon, who comes into the weekend of the 2024 U.S. Open two shots off Ludvig Aberg’s 36-hole lead at five-under, that process took a while.

“I failed a lot,” he said. “But failing helped me to understand things in my swing and my game. The most dangerous guy is the one that learns from mistakes.”

In the 11 years since turning professional, Pavon has worked his way up form the Alps Tour, through the Challenge Tour into the European Tour, and secured his PGA Tour card in 2024 with victory at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year.

The goal of Pavon’s golf swing hasn’t changed much over the years.

“Since I was young, I had a good combination of being straight and not too long,” he says. “Moving the ball left-to-right fade is always important to me. I have always tried to hit a fade. It’s been a good friend of mine over the years.”

It’s a relationship amateur golfers can learn a lot from.

The killer miss fix

When Pavon was young, his friendly fade was at times, unreliable. Never the biggest or strongest golfer, Pavon would often fall into a trap that many understrength junior golfers do: He slid his hips too much towards the target, trying to extract whatever power he could from his leg muscles, which would drop his arms too much to the inside. His good shots would start to the right, then curve more right; his bad shots would go in every direction.

“We really wanted to get rid of those double crosses, because those are the killer in golf,” Pavon says. “I consider anything that goes left is a failure.”

To prevent this, Pavon, with the help of swing coach Jamie Gough, adopted two swing feels:

  1. Keep arms in front of your body throughout the swing
  2. Start the downswing with a down-and-up turn of the hips.

“We’ve been working hard on moving the body better,” Gough says. “When the body can rotate faster, it suits Matthieu’s fade quite well.”

Soon, the left misses were gone. Pavon felt as though there was a wall down the left side of the fairway, feeling the confidence to hit more drivers on holes others couldn’t, and eat into other players’ distance advantage.

It’s a game that he knows, brought about by a swing he understands. The story of Pavon’s swing isn’t done just yet, though. The best chapter yet could be written this week, in the sand hills of Pinehurst No. 2.

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