Victor Dubuisson hit the jackpot with his stellar performance in the just completed Accenture Match Play Championship at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona, a northern suburb of Tucson. He finished 2nd to Jason Day.
He came into the tournament having won the European Tour’s Turkish Open over the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. A week later in Dubai, at the DP World Tour Championship, he finished 3rd behind Ian Poulter and the winner of everything that could be won at the end of the year, Henrik Stenson. I know because these two events were the first I’d heard of Dubuisson and I wrote about him here and here.
But I lost track of him after that, you know, an obscure Frenchman making his way on the European Tour. And while I was watching the top of the leaderboards and for familiar names further down, it skipped my attention that he had played in and made the cut at Torrey Pines, Pebble and LA. It would have registered when I saw his name, an obscure Frenchman making his way on the European Tour, but not enough to go, oh, wow, Victor Dubuisson.
It wasn’t until I arrived in Tucson that his presence hit home with me. On the first crowded day of match play, I tend to look for low profile matches where one or both of the players interest me. The Kevin Streelman, Victor Dubuisson match was perfect. I wrote an admiring piece about what Streelman went though to finally get to the Tour and eventually his first win in Tampa and I had a similar affinity for Dubuisson after the two pieces I had written about him.
I will admit that I wasn’t a neutral observer; I was pulling for Streelman because of his compelling back story. But I would have been just as happy to see Dubuisson play up to his recent record. I’m pretty much always for the guy who plays the best golf and on Wednesday, that was Victor Dubuisson. He was quietly solid. He was 3-Up by the time he made the turn and playing so well that Streelman had a brave look of inevitably on his face. I returned to the media center to begin to catch the interview sessions of the earliest matches. The match eventually ended 5&4.
And I was duly amazed that Dubuisson kept winning match after match: Streelman, Peter Hanson, Bubba Watson, the scrappy Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els. And then he gave us a match play thriller going 23 miraculous holes before he fell to the winner, Jason Day.
Typical of Dubuisson’s demeanor in all of his media interactions, while Jason Day was enjoying the trophy ceremony way down on the 15th green, one of the Cadillac Escalades used for player transport on the course, whisked Victor up to the clubhouse. While he was en route, it was announced in the media center that he apologized, but he had to catch a plane and would only be able to give us five minutes in the clubhouse traffic circle.
When he arrived he was sincerely apologetic, “I have an 8:15 fight and if I miss it, I can’t leave until the same flight tomorrow.” It was 6:30 and it was 100 miles to the Phoenix airport. Fortunately, almost all of the Interstate between the two cities is 75 mph, call it 80…or so, if you dare. (There were numerous troopers in evidence on both my way down Tuesday morning and my way back Sunday night.) I hope he made it.
Writing at Golf.com, Jim McCabe wrote a well-researched, entertaining piece on Dubuisson, “French mystery: ‘Shy’ Dubuisson quietly climbs rankings.” That was published on Friday after he’d won his first two matches with the bulk of his damage yet to come. It delves into just who this mystery man is.
I enjoyed McCabe’s piece very much and I think you will too.