DORAL, Fla. – Chalk up another recovery for Victor Dubuisson.
Only this time he didn’t have to stray into the Arizona desert; rather, he had to venture over to Miami International Airport.
Two weeks after his reputation soared with an improbable series of up-and-downs to stay alive in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Dubuisson had arrived in town to play in the WGC-Cadillac Championship – only to discover that his clubs had not made it. If it was a disconcerting situation to those around the Frenchman – his coach, his caddie, his manager – you wouldn’t have known it by Dubuisson’s actions.
Then again, didn’t we learn a few weeks ago, in that battle against Jason Day, that c’est la vie surely fits Dubuisson?
The 23-year-old seems immune to stress.
“I’m not really nervous,” said Dubuisson, whose star skyrocketed after that performance at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. When his clubs weren’t on his flight Monday, nor were they delivered to him early Tuesday, Dubuisson and his coach, Benoit Ducoulombier, made the most of it.
“We were going to work on the wedge game,” said Ducoulombier – and that’s exactly what the two of them did.
Working with Aaron Dill of Titleist – a PGA Tour Vokey Design Wedge Specialist – Dubuisson got four wedges made, and he went to the far corner of the range at Trump National Doral and hit balls for more than an hour. (For the record, the 58-degree wedge has a special touch via Dill’s handiwork: it was imprinted with a cactus.)
Fitting, of course, given that Dubuisson’s Match Play heroics are still creating a buzz. Long and right with his approach to the 19th hole at Dove Mountain, Dubuisson discovered his ball lodged in a delicate spot next to a cactus. Next hole, Dubuisson was short and left at the par-4 ninth, this time his ball in a bush.
Both times, Day figured he had won.
Both times, Dubuisson got a miracle shot up-and-down to match Day’s par and onward went the match. Incredible stuff, mostly because the golf world had rarely heard of Dubuisson, partly because the shots appeared to be beyond belief. But here’s the thing: Dubuisson figures those shots were 50-50 propositions; “They weren’t really in my control.” The shot that still makes him smile, though? It came at the 17th hole of regulation, a fairway bunker shot that Dubuisson fired to within 10 feet and with that birdie roll he had stayed alive; he had won the hole to get to just 1 down.
“That’s the shot I will remember, because I knew I had no other way to (extend the match),” he said. “I had to make birdie on 17.”
Another exquisite up-and-down, this one from a deep, greenside bunker at the 18th, enabled Dubuisson to win that hole against Day’s bogey, and that sent the match to extra holes, which opened the door to his Houdini-like escapes at the 19th and 20th holes.
The magic ended at the 23rd hole when Dubuisson made par to Day’s birdie. What followed was some time at his home in Andorra, fun golf with friends, and quiet time for himself.
But now, it’s back to work, and being reunited with his clubs late Tuesday means Dubuisson will get a chance to tour the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral on Wednesday morning.