Victor Dubuisson’s French flair impresses Graeme McDowell
Ulster man says 23-year-old will be massive part of Ryder Cup team this year
Ryder Cup team-mates Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell could well be spilt up to allow Victore Dubuisson partner McDowell at this year’s tournament in Gleneagles. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Splitting up Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in this year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles might just be an option for skipper Paul McGinley following Victor Dubuisson’s impressive run to the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain.
The Ulster pair have gleaned 2½ points from their six matches together in the last two showdowns with the United States. But if McDowell, as expected, earns his place in McGinley’s line-up, he saw enough of the new leader of the European Ryder Cup points list in Tucson to know they’d make a decent partnership in Scotland.
Dubuisson ended McDowell’s miraculous run in the desert with a one-up quarter-final win that was characterised by the kind of short game cool under pressure that is crucial in Ryder Cup combat.
“He’s going to be a massive part of the Ryder Cup team this year, and I am hoping to be there with him and maybe get a foursomes game with him,” McDowell said after his defeat to Dubuisson, who went on to reach the final by coming back from three down after seven holes to beat Ernie Els one up.
McDowell confessed his putting let him down when he needed it most, but he had no complaints about his defeat after watching the 23-year old from Cannes get up and down for par on the last three greens to close him out.
“His short game was very, very good coming down the stretch especially. The pitch he hit from left of 17, I definitely had the better of the two lies. He played a fantastic pitch shot there.
“And the one on the last, what a great touch that was. He’s got that little bit of European flair. He’s the first really, really exciting player that France has produced in a few years. And I think he’s one to watch.
“It was just some bad putting that got me in the end because I had a funny week on the greens. I didn’t do a lot until I had to, so overall, I would call it an average week on the greens. I had chances to get ahead in the match but he’s a really cool customer and a quality player.”
Having come from behind three times to make the last eight – he beat Gary Woodland at the 19th, Hideki Matsuyama at the last and Hunter Mahan at the 21st – McDowell did not stand on a tee with a lead at Dove Mountain until his 61st hole of the week.
He won it too, going two up on Dubuisson after three but found himself all square with three to play, lipped out for par at the 16th to fall behind, and saw the Frenchman hang on for the win with gutsy par saves at the 17th and 18th.
McDowell’s next outing is in this week’s Honda Classic, where he joins McIlroy, Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Masters champion Adam Scott at PGA National in Palm Beach Garden, before heading to Donald Trump’s newly revamped TPC Blue Monster at Doral for the WGC - Cadillac Championship.
“What do I take away from this week? Just some good swings under pressure,” said McDowell, who was ninth at the Honda Classic and third behind Woods at Doral last year.
“It highlighted some of the areas I need to work on in my game but things are good. I am really happy where my game is at. I drove it well this week. I have a new Srixon driver in the bag, and I was definitely getting a little more air time with it. My short iron play was very good; short game was very good. My putting was just in and out. But overall, it was a great workout this week .”
Jason Day defeated Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 to square off against Dubuisson in the final at Dove Mountain. The Frenchman was guaranteed runner-up prize money of €660,000 and a lead of more than 500,000 points over Thomas Bjorn in the European Ryder Cup points list.