WGC-Cadillac Championship: Victor Dubuisson's desert adventure alerts America to the 'new Seve'

Enigmatic young Frenchman's shots at Tucson draw comparisons with Spanish legend


An apology up front for re-inforcing national stereotypes, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that America received a crash course in enigmatic Frenchmen with the appearance of Victor Dubuisson here at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The 23-year-old is very much the international man of mystery in the United States following his Match Play heroics at Tucson a fortnight ago when his miraculous escapes in the final against Jason Day drew comparisons with Seve Ballesteros.

Dubuisson, who has been paired with Luke Donald here, briefly entered the American consciousness with his victory at the Turkish Airlines Open last November, in a field that included Tiger Woods. The idea that a special talent might be among them was reinforced when he made the cut at each of the three California swing events during his first professional engagements on the PGA Tour.

The chip shots from fiery scrub that kept him in the game for longer than it should against Day confirmed it. Dubuisson's all-but-guaranteed selection for the Ryder Cup in September was just the prompting reporters needed to probe further the man from Cannes. It is fair to say they emerged from the news conference little wiser.

Dubuisson is a complicated figure, reluctant to speak about his personal life, particularly his youth, when he was taken out of formal schooling at some point between the ages of 10 and 12 – he is vague about the details. Attempts to probe the facts are met with a polite refusal to speak about that part of his life.

Conversely this was the period during which his imagination was fired, initially by watching a 21-year-old Tiger rip up the script at the 1997 Masters. Dubuisson is happy to pick his way through that week with a scalpel, but about his own experience at the time, there is nothing he wants to say.

He does have a sponsor and mentor, however, in Thomas Levet, who was as close to a national role model as French golf offered. "He is passionate about his golf," Levet said of Dubuisson. "He loves the sport and is a very, very good player. Anybody who hits it more than 300 yards and has a short game like his will do well. He certainly has the game to win a major. I told him that if I could get close with my game, he can go all the way."

As Levet pointed out, France is desperate for a hero to raise the profile of the game. "The problem we have is only 420,000 people play the game in France. The clubs are full but that's because we don't have enough. If Victor could win a major it would be like what Seve did in Spain in the Seventies. There were about 50,000 golfers in Spain before Seve came along, afterwards there were 600,000 in no time."

The Seve label is a lot to hang on a young man's shoulders. Perhaps it is just as well he does not say too much. Interestingly he was quick to ascribe a chunk of good fortune to the chipped escapes. The shots he remembered most from the final owed everything to execution and nothing to luck.

"For me, the best shot I did was the 17th, a shot from the bunker, like 185 yards or 190. Those two shots from the desert, one in from the desert and one in from the rocks, it was an incredible shot, but it was not 100 per cent in my control. And this shot on 17 and the bunker shot on 18, they were. That's the shot I will more remember, because I knew I had to make birdie on 17."

His run to the final was enough to earn him his PGA Tour card for this season, which was the goal Dubuisson set himself after his victory in Turkey, a performance that alerted the senior European players in the field that week to his potential.

Justin Rose, back after a week off to rehab the slight tendon injury in his right shoulder, believes Europe have acquired a player of genuine substance at Gleneagles. "He showed his true colours at the back end of last year. He showed a lot of us that he can really play hard. Over here it's been a big breakout for him on the PGA Tour, and to make a big cheque opens up all sorts of possibilities for him."

Rose is a month away from full fitness. Though the injured shoulder requires management he is through the worst and claims he is ready to contend this week as he seeks that first win since his US Open victory in June.

"I believe I can go out this week and win. I've seen enough good things on the range and putting green, but there is no substitute for competitive sharpness, so that's all I'm lacking right now," said Rose.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'