Victor Dubuisson in surprise early contention at Nedbank Golf Challenge

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Victor Dubuisson in surprise early contention at Nedbank Golf Challenge

Euro Tour

Victor Dubuisson in surprise early contention at Nedbank Golf Challenge

Crazy is one word for this stick and ball game. Ask Victor Dubuisson.

Remember him? He’s the enigmatic Frenchman who made a big stir when he made the 2014 European Ryder Cup team. He seemed to come out of nowhere and just as quickly vanished back into near oblivion.

Dubuisson is one shot off the pace in the $7.5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. He’s tied on 4 under along with Branden Grace, Julian Suri and former Augusta State (now named Augusta University) player Scott Jamieson. They trail Bernd Wiesberger.

The Austrian birdied the last hole for a 67 to take the outright lead. He’s bidding for his second win of the season following the Shenzhen International.

Not many would’ve predicted Dubuisson being in South Africa, let alone gunning for the title. But then predicting what the 27-year-old will do is not easy. French golf journalists have been trying to get a handle on him for years.

The man from Cannes looked to be heading back to the European Tour Qualifying School as recently as the beginning of October. He’d only made six of 14 cuts but pulled off a third-place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He earned just under $300,000 to guarantee employment next year. He might not need to worry about his European Tour playing rights for the next two years if he can convert his opening 68 into his third European Tour win, and first since the 2015 Turkish Airlines Open.

“I’ve been very good with my driver,” Dubuisson said. “I didn’t miss many fairways, maybe one or two and, you know, here it’s the key to play well. It’s great to start like this because the birdies are not easy to do on this course.”

Even if he doesn’t pull off the W, the Frenchman has an alternative goal this week. He’s currently ranked 73rd on the European money list, with the top 60 gaining entry to next week’s $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, the European’s Tour last event of the 2017 season.

“The goal this week is really to qualify for Dubai,” he said. “So I think it’s a good way to start the tournament.”

From no chance to every chance of playing in the European Tour’s finale. Crazy game.

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