Dubuisson fails to escape with victory in Arizona but loses nothing in defeat
Shy 23-year-old has virtually assured himself Ryder Cup place
Victor Dubuisson of France chips from a cactus on the 20th hole during the championship match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain, Arizona, on February 23rd, 2014. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
The days of flying in under the radar are gone.
He may prefer the quiet life, one that mixes shyness with eccentricity, but for Victor Dubuisson defeat in the WGC-Accenture Matchplay final has only served to propel him into the limelight.
His world has changed, with comparisons to Seve Ballesteros – both for his film star looks and an ability to demonstrate his short-game sorcery – providing some proof that he has emerged from whatever shadows he frequented.
A few months ago, back in November, Victor Dubuisson – a former number one ranked world amateur – claimed a maiden professional win in the Turkish Airlines Open where he left, among others, Tiger Woods in his slipstream.
On being told that the win would earn him a ticket to the US Masters, Dubuisson, barely audible, first giggled and then responded, “wow, it’s amazing what you just told me”. He spent the following few seconds grinning and shaking his head.
That win should have reinforced the belief that this young Frenchman had game. Ironically it was in defeat to Jason Day in the Arizona desert, proving that sometimes we do remember losers in sport, that Dubuisson grabbed our imagination.
Firstly in fighting to send the final into sudden death holes, and then with his escapology from the cactus plants. Before, finally, and compellingly, bowing to his conqueror.
In defeat Dubuisson lost nothing. He gained.
First off, the 23-year-old – in moving to the top of Europe’s Ryder Cup points list – has virtually assured himself of a place on Paul McGinley’s team for Gleneagles with the race not yet half run; and, secondly, he has earned special temporary membership of the PGA Tour with unlimited sponsors’ exemptions available should he wish to avail of them.
As McGinley put it of Dubuisson’s impressive rise to prominence, “he is a nail-on now [for the Ryder Cup]. If he was 90 per cent [sure] before the week, he is 99.9 per cent now . . . I think he will be a very welcome addition to the team. You can’t help but be very impressed. A lot of us were learning about Victor and the fortitude he has shown under pressure.”
The Ryder Cup awaits, just months away. Although the player himself is not one for putting the cart before the horse.
“I don’t like to say it’s my number one goal this year because it would put extra pressure on me, but it is my number one goal.”
Dubuisson’s flight path to being one of the world’s top professionals is rather unusual.
Inspired as a child when watching on television at home in Cannes the deeds of Woods as golf’s newest superstar lifted the 1997 US Masters, Dubuisson went about pursuing his own dreams with a determination that underscores his on-course resolve.