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Pavon rules Spanish Open

A part of my heart is here in Spain for sure.

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Frenchman Matthieu Pavon earned his maiden European Tour victory at the Spanish Open in Madrid on Sunday, winning by four shots.

Pavon finished second at the same event last season and this time conquered at the Club de Campo Villa, finishing seven under par in a flawless final round to clinch victory ahead of Zander Lombard.

South African Lombard also shone with a bogey-free Sunday but Pavon, who triumphed wire-to-wire, didn’t put a foot wrong and carded 64 with seven birdies.

“A part of my heart is here in Spain for sure,” said an emotional Pavon after his triumph.

“My grandfather was from here and lived in France because of Franco.”

“I really thought about him on the course today and it was really hard to keep the tears inside, now I can let them go a little bit.”

It was Pavon’s 185th European Tour appearance, in the city where his late grandfather was born. He later moved to France as Spain’s fascist regime took hold, and played football for Marseille.

“We really stayed in the present moment and really focused,” added Pavon, who has enjoyed seven top 10 finishes in 2023.

“We tried to move on hole after hole, tried to hit fairways, tried to hit greens, make putts and managing my emotions the last two days was a very big accomplishment for me.”

Lombard finished 19 under, one shot fewer than third-place Englishman Nathan Kimsey.

Defending champion Jon Rahm impressed the home crowd on the first day after his Ryder Cup triumph with Team Europe but fell away, only just making the cut.

Rahm finished tied in ninth and will have to wait to surpass late icon Seve Ballesteros by winning the tournament for the fourth time.

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