Ryder Cup 2014: Victor Dubuisson profile - Ryder Cup rookie is golf's man of mystery

French sensation Victor Dubuisson is the Garbo of the greens. But he has the  dazzling ability to come out of his shell and turn on a winning game when it matters, writes Paul Mahoney

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The Independent Online

Europe has a secret Ryder Cup weapon but, as none of his team-mates has a clue what the heck makes Victor Dubuisson tick, what chance do the Americans have? The 24-year-old Frenchman with the musketeer whiskers is making his debut in this biennial dust-up and he has a short game that has prompted many to hail him as the new Seve Ballesteros.

The trouble is, despite his matinee idol looks Dubuisson does not have Seve’s craving to be the centre of attention. He would rather be the new Garbo. He wants to be alone. He is Europe’s brooding, temperamental, enigmatic, international man of mystery. Hardly ideal attributes to bring to the team room.

But there is something about Victor. He is likeable, he has charisma and charm, a disarming smile, a twinkle in his eye and, as with Seve, the camera loves him.

Europe’s captain, Paul McGinley, has been on Dubuisson’s case ever since it became apparent he would qualify for the team to play at Gleneagles. McGinley has been out to dinner with Dubuisson several times to get to know him better. “Had a bit of craic,” McGinley said. “Victor is Victor, as we all know.” And that is about all anyone really knows.

“Victor is very much his own man and I’ll certainly be letting him make his own kind of way. I think it’s important that Victor has that freedom to make his own decisions and to go about things the way Victor sees it.

“There will be a time and place where things will have to be done but I think he’s going to relish this Ryder Cup and enjoy the environment.”

 

But like the other rookies, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher, Dubuisson will need babysitting. The word on tour is that that duty will fall to Graeme McDowell, along with Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer. Look for his playing partner to come from that threesome.

There has been concern that the unpredictable Dubuisson will retreat into himself and “go missing”. He was supposed to be fine-tuning his game at the Wales Open but withdrew at the last minute, preferring to work alone in France. McGinley, though, said he had no worries about Dubuisson turning up in Gleneagles. He meant it figuratively, although literally may also briefly have crossed his mind.

“The one thing that makes me feel happy in terms of Victor’s preparation is that he’s a guy who disappears and then all of a sudden comes out of nowhere and plays well,” McGinley said.

“The whole world is like, ‘Where’s Victor?’ And then he comes out and wins. I have no problem with him having an extended period of time away from competitive golf because he’s proved that it doesn’t affect his performance. He’s ready and I know he’s really keyed up and looking forward to the week.”

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Dubuisson’s short game has been compared to Seve Ballesteros’s

Dubuisson speaks quietly and is learning to overcome his shyness but don’t mistake him for the weak link in the European team. The world No 23 has fire in his belly and a history of club-throwing, although he insists those days are behind him. “I used to be frustrated when I played bad,” he said. “But, year after year, I learn how to control my manners.”

Dubuisson announced himself on the world stage last November, holding off Tiger Woods and Ryder Cup team-mates Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Stenson to win the Turkish Airlines Open. Then he caught the imagination of American golf fans at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona in February by dispatching Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and McDowell with prodigious driving and miraculous escape shots from the desert.

No matter that he lost the final to Australian Jason Day; it was Dubuisson who stole the show. A flamboyant new star had arrived.

“Victor Dubuisson is my new hero!” tweeted Javier Ballesteros, 23-year-old son of Seve. “We saw Seve pull off some belters but nothing like those,” said Nick Faldo. “The man is a sensation,” said the US Ryder Cup captain, Tom Watson. “I am a simple man,” said Dubuisson. He is anything but.

Dubuisson grew up in Cannes and now lives in the tax haven of Andorra. He learnt to play at Royal Mougins golf club, encouraged by his grandfather. His father was a banker; his uncle Hervé was France’s greatest basketball player.

Dubuisson won the 2009 European Amateur Championship (previous winners include Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia) and was ranked the world’s No 1 amateur. He dabbled in team sports but was drawn to the solitude of golf. “I don’t mind to be alone for five or six weeks,” he said.

Dubuisson is just the third Frenchman to play in the Ryder Cup following Jean Van de Velde in 1999 and Thomas Levet in 2004. Levet has become his mentor.

“It’s not easy for him. He feels more pressure coming for a press conference than he does on the first tee,” Levet said. “He is a very sensitive guy, a nice guy. He wants to be the best possible. It was not an easy childhood for him. His parents were not around much because they had to work. He doesn’t want to talk about bad things.”

Dubuisson claims he left school aged 10 or 12. “Just no personal family questions. I don’t like to think about that, sorry,” he said when asked to explain.

So just how will this quiet man fare when exposed to the nowhere-to-hide cauldron of the Ryder Cup? “If it can bring Bernhard Langer out of his calm, it can do the same for Victor,” Levet said. “He loves the hype. The bigger the competition, the better he plays. We may even see him fist-pumping and high-fiving. He will love it. You will see.”

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