Let's all celebrate!
How well did Matthieu Pavon celebrate his win? The C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Scale tells all
Matthieu Pavon pumps his fist after winning the Farmers Insurance Open.
Bonjour, mon ami, and bienvenue to the latest edition of THE C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. SCALE, our highly advanced scientific method for determining the quality of each victory celebration on the PGA Tour. This week, we honor the out-of-nowhere French sensation Matthieu Pavon, the 31-year-old Toulouse native who triumphed on Saturday at Torrey Pines. It was a shocking win, but all we care about is how the man reacted when the winning putt went down. So light up your gauloises, don your favorite beret, and do whatever other cliche French thing you can think of ... it's go time.
Here's a quick reminder of how THE C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. SCALE works: Using 11 different criteria, each rated from 1-10, we come up with a comprehensive score that can be used as a measure of excellence and a comparison to past and future celebrations. The criteria:
Crowd work — When you win, are you a man of the people?
Elation - How much did you let loose?
Looper Moment - That first hug/fist bump/whatever with the caddie is so important
Emotion - You know you get MASSIVE points for tears in this one.
Body Work - Separate from elation/emotion, how good was the sheer physicality?
Relations - Family? Friends? Agents?
Awkwardness - Golf can be an awkward sport, we love it, and here we reward it
Theatrics - A catch-all category for any other BIG elements of the celebration
Interview - The victory interview; how well did they execute?
Opponent interaction - Was there respect shown to the enemy? We love respect.
N-tangibles - Anything—and everything—else.
We'll refer to this video, with thanks once again to the PGA Tour:
We say it every week: There's an epidemic of crowd-ignoring among our victorious golf pros. Our standards are so low at this point that if someone gives even a slight wave, we react like he's invited the entire gallery to come party at his house. But Pavon? Pavon is a game-changer. He goes to his caddie first, but at 0:33 you see him remove his hat and give a significant acknowledgment to the people. It's the kind of move you just don't see anymore, a real throwback. And then, as if that wasn't enough, at 2:06 on the replay you can see him clapping for the crowd, turning his body to see as many of them as possible, and it seems like he mouths a "thank you"at 2:10 before we lose sight of his face. Just as the camera cuts away, he prepares to give another wave. He nailed it. The man's not even from here, and he nailed it.
Phenomenal elation. Just phenomenal. And his task wasn't easy, because he didn't have the last putt of the tournament. But even working within those confines, his reaction to the putt going down was a primal open-mouth roar followed by some physical moves we'll get to later. When it comes to elation, you can be surprised, you can be overjoyed, or you can display a fierce kind of triumph. This was the latter, and without disrupting what was to come on the green, Pavon gave us a great reaction.
Caddie Mark Sherwood and Matthieu Pavon celebrate.
Sean M. Haffey
Pavon actually ignored his caddie Mark Sherwood's advice to play it safe from the rough and lay up on the 18th hole, at a time when it seemed like he might be Van-de-velde'ing, and instead made a heroic shot to give him the short birdie putt that he drained for the win. Within that context, it's cool that his first move was toward Sherwood when the putt went down. What came next was kind of a funny mismatch. Pavon embraced Sherwood wholeheartedly, buried his face in his neck, and put his hand on the back of the caddie's head. It seemed completely French. Sherwood, on the other hand, reacted in a very British manner, seeming to retreat (it's possible Pavon drove him backward), and patting Pavon on the back in a way that was half congratulatory, half protective in the "oh dear me this fellow is rather close at the moment" sense. Sherwood wants no part of that intimacy right then. You simply can't get that intimate with a Brit! Still, pretty good rapport between these two generally.
Here you've got the ferocity of the initial celebration and the embrace of the caddie, all of which are good. But the interview is where emotion is really tested, and Pavon's time with Renner brimmed with various kinds of emotion. Did he cry? Not quite. That might have been too perfect. But he did display quite a range, from a kind of sheepishness to surprise to gratitude to just general good-natured happiness and even some humor. He hit a lot of registers here; excellent work.
We're always looking for something new in this department, and while Pavon's victory move might not be totally revolutionary, it's still pretty novel. When the putt goes down at 0:14, his first move is to extend both arms to the side while roaring, which makes great use of the putter—an oft-ignored weapon in the physical celebration game. Then comes the best part, at roughly 0:16: he dips his head, stands up straight again in a kind of feint, as if we've already seen the main fireworks, before dipping again into what we can only call a full-body wave, both arms engaged in the underhand fist pump, mouth open for a second scream, torso undulating like the breaking of a mighty wave. The key here? He leads with the hips. Many golfers fail to utilize the hips in a good celebration. A second, smaller wave follows the first—the man is emulating nature itself—and then it's straight into Sherwood's arms. Finally, he gives a little fist pump just for himself and adjusts his hat. All very compelling, all very original; we need more international champions to bring this kind of flair. In that moment, it was very easy to imagine him playing in a Ryder Cup.
The most you can say here is that his agents seemed to be in the background of the interview, happy that he was playing at Pebble. He also hugged a couple of them, but overall, there's no presence. He saves some points because his parents are referenced a couple times in the interview, but look, if Nick Dunlap managed to fly out his entire hometown from Alabama last week, Pavon could have gotten one person to come from France. Gotta ding him here.
Pavon strikes me as a pretty smooth dude, but the hug with Sherwood gets more awkward the more you watch it. They'll need to work on their chemistry, but it was very effective at securing more awkward points here.
The fist pumps are about as theatrical as it gets here, although the hand on the back of the caddie's head for the hug is also a definite marker of the intensity of the moment. I will also give him some minor points for a subdued version of Djokovic's "turn to all four sides of the crowd to give them props" move.
Matthieu Pavon speaks to the media.
The headline here is that when asked how his win might grow the game in France, Pavon's first move was to shout out Celine Boutier, who unlike him has won a major. He's humble enough to say he's just following in her footsteps. Class move, all the way. He gave a number of personal details, like the notes he reads to himself in pressure moments, and he was funny. I also liked the rough translation of the quote tattooed on his hand, which seems to convey the message of "the sweat you pour into work today will become the tears of joy tomorrow."
"I'm glad I haven't cried yet," he said, "but it must come." GREAT quote. In all, his whole vibe is pretty great, and he showed a lot more personality than most champions, and he even did something we barely ever see when the cameras are on these guys: he laughed. Finally, much respect for shouting out the godfather of modern French golf, Tomas Levet. These guys love Thomas Levet.
Shout out to Nicolai Hojgaard for clapping for him in a tough moment, first off. At 1:14, we see him shake hands and hug Stephan Jaeger, shake hands with one of the other caddies, and then hug Nicolai Hojgaard. It's polite, but it's a little quick. At the C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Scale, we're used to seeing the patented Rafa Nadal "I'm so sorry I beat you" expression, and perhaps a few words exchanged. Pavon is surprisingly business-like here.
Two things. First, Pavon gave three hugs that we saw in the video, and in each one he buried his head into the other person's shoulder. It leaves us wondering if this is normal, go-to move—if he sees an aunt or uncle, is it the same?—or is it just the intensity of the moment. Second, does he remind anyone else of Sergio? I got serious Sergio vibes from both his face and his voice. I won't start calling him "French Sergio," but if anyone else does, I'll understand it.
Overall Score: 78.9
Final Analysis: Wow! He really gave Grayson Murray one hell of a run, but in the end came up just a few points short. He moves right into second place all-time, though, and overall he turned in one of the greatest celebration performances we've ever seen. If he had had literally one person make the trip from France to see him in the final round, he'd be wearing the crown right now. He'll have to have a serious talk with his family and friends when he gets home.
83.6: Grayson Murray at the Sony Open78.9: Mathieu Pavon at the Farmers Insurance
75.8: Nick Dunlap at the AmEx
70.2: Ludvig Aberg at the RSM
67.5: Collin Morikawa at the Zozo
58: Luke List at Sanderson Farms
55.5: Viktor Hovland at the Tour Championship
54.6: Chris Kirk at the Sentry
54.0: Tom Kim at the Shriners Open