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Dubuisson Returns to U.S.
It's rare for a golfer to become an instant legend, especially if he's an unknown 23-year-old Frenchman. But that's exactly what happened last month in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
Victor Dubuisson took the golf world by storm when he made it to the 18-hole championship match against Australia's Jason Day. He got there by surviving two straight tight battles - against Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els - that both ended with him winning by the thinnest possible margin of 1-up.
But his coup de grace came against Day. The 26-year-old Aussie enjoyed a 2-up lead with two to go and was in the driver's seat against Dubuisson (pronounced "doo-bwee-sohn").
But Dubuisson - seeking to become the first French-born winner ever on the PGA Tour, had other ideas. On the 17th, he birdied to Day's par to extend the match another hole and on the last made an amazingly delicate bunker shot to three feet for a par as Day three-putted for bogey to force extra holes.
Back and forth the two went, with Dubuisson pulling off two escape shots that had veteran CBS announcers Nick Faldo, David Feherty and Gary McCord exclaiming they'd rarely seen one like that, and never two in consecutive holes. Indeed, Faldo proclaimed the pair of saves "without a doubt, the two greatest up-and-downs in a row in history."
Dubuisson's heroics happened on the 19th and 20th holes - the first and ninth, respectively, at Dove Mountain, both par-4s. After over-hitting the first green with his second the Cannes native found his ball in deep rough next to a cholla cactus. Without as much as a cursory assessment of the situation, he chopped out of the gunk to four feet. Both he and Day made pars to move on.
At the 20th Dubuisson was in the same situation he was three hours before during regulation with Day - in deep scrub and amid rocks way left of the green. Again, without much dilly-dallying and with tremendous panache, the Frenchman and former top-ranked amateur in the world chopped out to eight feet. The announcers went wild, and all Day could do was wryly smile at his opponent's from-the-dead recoveries. Of course, Dubuisson made the putt to extend the match another hole.
Though he lost to Day's birdie on the 23rd, Dubuisson cemented himself in the history books with his Seve Ballesteros-like escapes and gutsy overall performance.
Now he's returned to the States for another WGC event, the Cadillac Championship, which starts Thursday on the totally revamped "Blue Monster" course at Doral in Miami.
On Tuesday, Dubuisson met with reporters and talked about the inspiration for him becoming a professional golfer - Doral's defending champion Tiger Woods, as well as other subjects that allowed the press to become more familiar with the Frenchman. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Many thanks for joining us here in Doral. A few weeks ago you made your debut in a WGC event in Arizona and we all know what happened there of the just start off by giving us the reaction that you've had to that and the confidence that you've taken from that performance.
VICTOR DUBUISSON: It was a match play tournament, so very different. Some days I played well. Some days, I didn't play so well, but you know, it's match play, and well, I was disappointed to lose the final, in the final match. But, you know, my goal was to get my PGA Tour card this year with the few invites I had and the WGC, I managed to do it after four events. So I'm quite happy about that.
MODERATOR: And just give us your thoughts on this week. Obviously as you said, a different challenge coming in here, but your first time at this venue and your thoughts on playing in this prestigious championship.
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, this week, it's very different. It's stroke play, very different of two weeks ago. Yeah, I'm really confident about this week. Even if I don't know what the course look like now, because I played many years ago, so I will play this afternoon to see what the change on the course.
Q. I know you went home to France after the Match Play, can you give us a sense of the reaction of the French fans to how you're playing over here? I know that golf isn't necessarily as popular as maybe soccer or rugby, but maybe has it started to rise?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Home for me, it's not France - be careful, I don't live in France (laughing). I live did Andorra, so I was there last week. I have lived there since a few years and with all the travel, I don't know many people there. But all the people watching golf were very happy about what I did, and yeah, I had some - I didn't really have a celebration. I just took a about rest, yeah.
Q. Is there any way you might have developed your great short game when you were younger? For instance, remembering how Seve honed his on the beach; anything you did that might have been a little unusual to play those tremendous shots?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, when I was a kid, I used to practice a lot my short game. But those two chips I managed to do two weeks ago, you know, it could have just stayed in the rocks or in the bush. It was great but it was like 50/50; it was not really my control.
Q. I read that you were sort of inspired to play golf by Tiger's performance at the '97 Masters. Can you talk about that and what it will mean to you to get a chance to go to Augusta in a few weeks?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, I started to play golf after I watched Tiger on TV winning this Masters, and, yeah, it means a lot for me to play to play next month there at Augusta. I don't really feel any pressure to go there. I'm more like, happy because I still watch sometimes this like recording video of this 1997 Masters. I'm more happy to go there. I don't really think about the performance yet but I'm sure I will when I will arrive on the golf course.
Q. Is there something you're looking forward to most about getting there?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Sorry?
Q. Is there something you're looking forward to about getting there at Augusta, anything in particular that you're looking most forward to?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, there are a few holes that I'm really looking toward to play, like the 12th, like the 16th, those very famous holes, yeah.
Q. I'm curious, have you seen highlights of the end of the Match Play, especially holes 18, 19 and 20? Have you watched them? And which of those two shots out of those was the more difficult shot?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: They were both very difficult. But when - yeah, I did watch the highlight, and - I did watch the last - the back nine and the five playoff holes. For me, the best shot I did was the 17th shot from the bunker, like 185 yards or 190, because those two shots - 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 percent 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 no other way to, I mean, I had to make birdie on 17, so yeah, I will more remember those shots, yeah.
Q. You're in the process of reaching some very big goals, playing in the Masters, playing in the WGC events. Do you feel the need to sort of pinch yourself at times, and does it make you more excited or nervous or how do you feel about it?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No, I'm not really more nervous. I just try to do my best on every shot on the course, and I try to don't really think about the event I'm playing, the WGC, and I will play the majors, because for example at the Match Play, on Sunday morning, I was on the range and I realized I was going to play in a few minutes against Ernie Els in semifinal of WGC tournament, I always dreamed to play, and I had a very poor start. So I will just try to don't make this mistake again.
Q. Did you really leave school at 10, when you were 10 years of age?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, I was like, yeah, 12 - 10, 12. I was doing some work at home but I was more going to the golf every day, yeah.
Q. Did your parents try to talk you out of it?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Well, my parents, they - well, I was more by myself, yeah.
Q. I had a different question but I feel like I should follow up on that. You said when you were 12 years old, you were kind of already on your own? Can you clarify, I guess?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No, just no personal family question. I don't like to think about that, sorry.
Q. So when you grew up, when you started playing golf, did you like golf right away, and did you play any other sports as a kid?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, I played tennis, as well, basketball. But I didn't really like basket - I liked to play basketball, but I prefer to be on my own like to be in control what I do. Basketball, it was great, but I don't really like to depend on other people (laughs).
Q. What was it exactly about Tiger's win in'97 that captivated you so much? Was it the shots he was making, how much he won by? What exactly, can you pinpoint what it was that made you say, I want to do that?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Well, he had a very poor - a very bad start. He was 4 over after nine holes. Everybody was saying, okay, Tiger, he made a good start as a pro, but now that it's an important tournament, his first major, he's not going to do very well, maybe because of the pressure. And then he just completely broke the course, he broke the record. Yeah, just every shot, every fantastic shot he hit it during the tournament and the way he was - I was very impressed by just the way he was hitting his driver. It's Tiger; just, I mean, I would not explain everything I felt during this Masters. I was not really a golfer at this time, so, yeah, I started to dream to do the same as all the kids.
Q. Did Paul McGinley or either of the French players who have played in the Ryder Cup get in touch after the Match Play, and what does it mean to have effectively secured your place already?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: I didn't have the chance to talk with Paul McGinley, but it's probably because I've changed my phone number. I don't know, maybe he sent me a text or something but I didn't receive it. Yeah, I hope I can talk to him soon and yeah, I have great support from my friend, Thomas (Levet), who is in the room, because he won the Ryder Cup before. I hope we will have a chance to talk about that this week.
Q. Where were you watching when Jean Van de Velde had his famous moment at Carnoustie?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Sorry.
Q. You were about nine when Jean Van de Velde had his Carnoustie moment, but where were you watching and what were you thinking watching him?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: I don't really remember. I was - yeah, it was a long time ago. No, I just I saw the last few holes on a YouTube video like a few months ago. I just think he was very unlucky on his second shot. I mean, I don't think he made really the wrong decision.
Q. Given that you got into golf after watching Tiger, what was it like to win in Turkey when Tiger was in the field?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Well, I think he finished third or fourth, but he played really - for him, he played really bad on this week, and he still finished top three. So, yeah, we will play the same tournament this week, and I could see that even hitting the ball everywhere from the tee, he still manage to finish top three, yeah, and that was very impressive. Because I played my best golf, and he probably played his worst, and we only had like six shots - a six- or five shot difference at the end.
Q. I don't know, would you have described yourself as a very temperamental player in the past, and somebody who has perhaps worked maybe to curb that or reduce the amount of pressure you put on yourself?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: You're talking about the Match Play or just -
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Sorry, I don't -
MODERATOR: Earlier in your career, if you got frustrated on the course a little bit.
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, I used to be - I used to be like frustrated when I played bad, but the same for every player. But year after year, I learn how to control, you know, my manners. And at the Match Play, most of the time, I was down after the front nine, and yeah, I proved myself, just staying calm - just staying calm on the course was really helping. But most of the time, I'm not very, like you say, temper like I'm more like calm on the course.
Q. No club throwing?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No. But sometimes I used to do this. But, you know, it was probably because I was thinking too much about the result and putting too much pressure on me. But now, things are very different, yeah.
Q. You mentioned before that you're not putting too much pressure on your performance when you go to Augusta for the first time this year, but do you feel like that you can develop into a player that has a game that's suited for that course and for major championships? Do you think that eventually you'll be a guy who can win a major?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, yeah, I think with my game, one day I can win a major, but in those big tournaments, you need to have the game. But then to finish the job, you need to have good mental, and I think that's maybe more important than the game, yeah.
Q. Jason Day was in here before and thought it was appropriate that your last name means bush in French, and that's your Twitter handle, right, bush?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah, it's - no, it's not bush, it's Victor - but this is my e mail address.
Q. So it doesn't mean bush in French, it's not a literal French translation?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No, Dubuisson, it's not really bush - (laughter).
Q. Because I was wondering if that's going to become your trademark.
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No, no, it's not really bush - it's close.
Q. As somebody who would rather keep to themselves, a loner, as you get more success as a golfer, you're going to have to be more in the spotlight, are you uncomfortable with that and are you having to think hard about how you're going to react to that in the future?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Sorry, I didn't understand all the question.
Q. You prefer to be on your own; you're a loner, which you said before.
VICTOR DUBUISSON: Yeah.
Q. But as you become more successful, you're now sitting up here and that's going to happen more often. Does it make you feel uncomfortable to do that, or are you happy to do that? Or is it something you're going to have to learn how to do?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: No, I'm happy to do that. And the more you play well, the more the people get interested in you. So, yeah, I hope I can have more interviews, because it would mean I played well. No, I don't feel uncomfortable. I'm very happy - I'm very happy to do this.
MODERATOR: Well, Victor, hopefully we'll see more of you this week then. Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.