Brilliant finish helps Dubuisson win Turkish Airlines Open
Three birdies in the last four holes seals a superb victory for the tearful Frenchman
Victor Dubuisson: shot a closing 66 for a 22-under-par tally, and a one stroke win over runner-up Jaco Van Zyl in the Turkish Airlines Open.Photograph: Mark Runnackles/Getty
As mercurial a Frenchman as they come, Victor Dubuisson also possesses that joie de vivre so typical of his countrymen. Especially so yesterday.
After a pretty wretched time spent on this year’s PGA Tour stateside, suffering home sickness among other personal issues, the 25-year-old Ryder Cup player rediscovered the gratification of winning in securing the Turkish Airlines Open over The Montgomerie, his second success in the tournament inside three years.
If the final round had started with most eyes focused on the intimidating presence of Rory McIlroy among the contenders, it finished with a tearful Dubuisson taking centre stage after showing calmness and an ability to get the job done down the stretch.
His boyhood coach had given him the nickname Mozart for the elegance of his swing, and he certainly produced a crescendo of a finish with three birdies in the closing four holes for a 66 for a total of 266, 22-under-par, and a one stroke win over runner-up Jaco Van Zyl.
McIlroy, for his part, toiled to a final round 71 for 272 that left him six shots adrift in tied-sixth, whilst Shane Lowry – who had righted a wrong in his stance on the practice range on Saturday evening – finished with a fine bogey-free 66 for 273 that gave him an eighth-place finish.
It also moved Lowry up to third in the Race to Dubai standings, some 617,476 points behind McIlroy who retains his place at the top of the order of merit.
Dubuisson is different, and he won this by conjuring up some remarkable acts of wizardry, not least on the 10th where – after driving into bushes – he took a penalty drop and then, almost in a re-enactment of Seve Ballesteros’ audacity, played a wonderfully soft pitch through gaps in the pine trees and somehow salvaged par. Then, on the 11th, he chipped in for an eagle.
If a lost ball on the par 3 fifth, which led to a double-bogey, had caused Dubuisson to believe it would not be his day and that matters were slipping away, his play of the back nine was stunning and exhilarating.
It featured that par save on the 10th, that eagle on the 11th and, then, just as Kiradech Aphibarnrat and then Van Zyl looked to have gained the upper hand, that closing run of three birdies in four holes to claim the title.
As he put it: “When I was not feeling great, he told me that a golf career is very long and you always have some difficult years. But you’ve got to stay focused and, if you do, things come right. You keep trusting yourself, it will come back.”
For McIlroy, it was a disappointing final round. Every time he sought to put his foot on the pedal, he hit a speed bump. A run of three bogeys in five holes from the eighth effectively ruined any hopes he had.
“My game didn’t hold up as well as I wanted it to,” said McIlroy, citing a problem with his iron play and a tendency to pull the ball left as a reason.
McIlroy – who plays this week’s HSBC Champions in Shanghai, then takes a week’s break before returning for the following week’s DP World Tour Championship – remains at the top of the Order of Merit and positive moving forward.
“I feel I’ve got a new driver in the bag and a new ball and I’m excited about that. It’s just more of trying to get myself into these positions and just try to handle them better. I don’t know if I was just trying a bit too hard out there or what it was. Whenever I get myself in this position, I need to get out of my own way a little bit.”
“I just switched my ball positioning a little bit, moved it a bit more forward. It almost felt too far forward but I committed to having that for the whole day and it worked,” he said.
In a round which featured a chip-in eagle on the fourth along with four birdies, Lowry kept creating chances. He hit 17 greens in regulation – missing only the 12th, where he chipped and putted for par – his play of the ninth, where he hit a 5-iron approach of 195 yards to a tight pin, epitomised his play. Unfortunately, he missed that six footer for birdie on the ninth. Still, he was justifiably pleased.
“I am definitely going to China with confidence,” said Lowry, who is competing in back-to-back tournaments in Shanghai, the HSBC and the BMW Masters, before moving on to Dubai. “My plan come this time next week is that I have a chance to win that tournament.”
Graeme McDowell finished with a closing 73 for 283, and a tied-37th finish.
He won’t play again on the European Tour this season and will instead play the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and the McGladrey Classic, both on the PGA Tour’s 2016 wraparound schedule.