The enigmatic, unconventional Victor Dubuisson

By Jason SobelMarch 4, 2014, 6:30 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Victor Dubuisson is 23 years old, ranked 23rd in the world and fresh off a 23-hole match-play final during which he drew favorable comparisons to the previously incomparable Seve Ballesteros and elevated his Ryder Cup roster status from possibly to probably.

If there exists a sports writing rule which states that every known fact about a subject shouldn’t be volunteered in the opening paragraph, consider it shredded.

That’s because golf’s latest emerging star is also a mystery man. He’s been called aloof and enigmatic. He readily admits that he prefers to spend time alone rather than with other people. He wears a perpetual poker face, leaving the rest of us wondering whether he’s bluffing or laying all his cards out on the table.

OK, so maybe that’s not everything we know about Dubuisson.

His last name translates in his native French to “on the bush.” As Jason Day, who withstood a few mind-bending saviors from the desert cacti (click here to see) to defeat his opponent two weeks ago, concludes, “That’s very fitting, right?”

His uncle, Hervé Dubuisson, is considered one of France’s greatest basketball players. “He was like the Kobe Bryant of France,” boasts countryman Thomas Levet.

His earliest memory of golf was the 1997 Masters, when he watched Tiger Woods lap the field by a dozen strokes and decided on the spot, days shy of his seventh birthday, that he would become a professional golfer someday.

Unlike most would-be pros, however, Dubuisson didn’t wait to grow into the role, instead taking what can only be termed a non-traditional route. In a note that won’t be listed on any Department of Education pamphlets in France anytime soon, he estimates that he left school at “10 or 12,” instead opting to pursue upper-level courses on the course.

“I was doing some work at home,” he explains, “but I was more going to the golf (course) every day.”

That answer only leads to more questions, but there are some he remains intent on leaving unanswered. His pre-tournament news conference in advance of this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship was the stuff of confusion, as if he were speaking in riddles.

Q: Did your parents try to talk you out of it?

A: Well, my parents, they – well, I was more by myself.

Q: You said when you were 12 years old, you were kind of already on your own. Can you clarify?

A: No, just no personal family questions. I don't like to think about that, sorry.

Q: Did you play any other sports as a kid?

A: I liked to play basketball, but I prefer to be on my own like to be in control (of) what I do. Basketball, it was great, but I don't really like to depend on other people.

Dubuisson first met Levet, a six-time European Tour champion and his golfing hero, when he was 14. Since then, Levet has served in a mentor role for him; although, he prefers to think of himself as an older brother type.

Though Dubuisson has confided in him about those formative years, Levet will only provide slightly more illumination.

“It was not an easy childhood,” he explains. “When you leave school at 10 or 12 and the parents aren’t much around because they need to work, it’s difficult. So you don’t want to talk about bad things. You just go with that: It was difficult.”

So was Tuesday’s news conference with the assembled media – just like every other one he’s conducted in the past.

Despite the blond locks of a movie star and the goatee of a musketeer, Dubuisson remains shy when it comes to revealing his inner feelings.

“At the start of his career,” Levet recalls, “he didn’t want to answer any questions from the press. ‘Why? I’m 400th in the world. Why do they want to interview me? I’m nobody.’ I told him that’s part of your job.

“It’s not easy for him. That exercise is very difficult for him. You know, he’s feeling the pressure more coming to [the interview room] than the first tee. He’s very sensitive and he’s just a nice guy. Sometimes when the translations are not right, he gets a little annoyed at that.”

Which leads to the last thing we’ve gleaned about Dubuisson: The man can flat-out play golf.

A former world No. 1-ranked amateur, he won last year’s Turkish Airlines Open against a field that included Woods, his original inspiration. He’s now ranked above the likes of Luke Donald, Ernie Els and Lee Westwood. And just last week, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley called him a “99.9 percent” certainty to make this year’s team.

Not that Dubuisson had any idea.

“I didn't have the chance to talk with Paul McGinley, but it's probably because I've changed my phone number,” he surmises. “Maybe he sent me a text or something, but I didn't receive it.”

He didn’t sound disappointed or annoyed or even overly excited. It’s all part of his poker face, one which leaves Dubuisson a mystery man amongst the game’s elite.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."