Victor Dubuisson. Get used to the name: you’ll be hearing it.
Has Europe discovered the new Seve Ballesteros? Certainly the Spaniard would have been proud with Victor Dubuisson’s incredible fightback in Sunday’s WGC Accenture Matchplay final, which will forever be remembered because of two miracle shots from the desert.
Ultimately, it ended in defeat as Jason Day prevailed on the 23rd hole. But nobody will ever forget the Frenchman’s contribution in the championship’s youngest final which was also surely its greatest final. Those two wonder shots from the Dove Mountain bushes will always be replayed.
Sir Nick Faldo called the pair of par saves “without a doubt, the two greatest up and downs in a row in history”.
Nobody would disagree, least of all Paul McGinley, the Europe Ryder Cup captain, who surely cannot wait to have the 23-year-old on his team at Gleneagles.
Having been three down after nine, Dubuisson was two down with two to play against the Australian Jason Day, but took the game into sudden death with a 12-footer on the 17th and a brilliant up and down on the 18th. It was impressive stuff but rendered merely routine by what was to follow.
With his approach on the first extra hole, Dubuisson flew the green and his ball landed in a bush. Dubuisson seemed dead, but he proceeded to take a nonchalant swing, cover himself in needles and watch it roll up to three feet.
Day could not believe it, but kept his focus to perform his own up and down from a bunker. Yet on the second extra hole (the ninth) could only shake his head and laugh as his opponent did the unthinkable yet again.
If anything, the sequel was even better, even more unlikely. They call Dubuisson “Golden Hands” in Cannes, but when he hooked his approach into another bush, Midas, himself, would have given up. Dubuisson’s ball was covered by a branch, but another quick swipe saw it pop up, run through the rough and to within six feet.
It is a secret known to few intimates that I love golf. Watching it—who has the time to play? Okay, I hit a few balls now and then, and have a fairly decent swing. But actually playing a course? I’d rather walk the Bloodthirsty Puppy—she’d rather, anyway.
I’ve seen most of Tiger’s great shots over the years; same with Phil’s. Heck, I’ve seen most of Jack’s, Tom’s, Lee’s, and Johnny’s. I have no shortage of memories of awesome, incredible golf shots.
But I just added another one today—one near the top. This Victor Dooby-Doo character was unknown to me until maybe Friday. A 23 year-old Frenchman only just playing in America, he was the star of this event. And he lost. But oh, how he lost.
His compatriot, Jean Van de Velde, notoriously choked at the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999 (saw that, too), blowing a two-shot lead on the final hole. But Dubuisson was made of sterner stuff. As the account above hints at—you had to see it to believe it, had to—every hole he dug himself, he blithely climbed out of with a Gallic shrug.
And I didn’t see the last one. The match had gone so far beyond its allotted time—as had dinner in the BTL household—I gave him up for dead after his second encounter with the desert flora in extra holes. He had already done enough that I didn’t want to see him lose in ignominy. My humanity cost me another memory.
You’ll read about it in the papers, perhaps see the highlights on the sports shows. But what Victor Dubuisson displayed today was that most un-French of attributes: un coeur de lion.