Dubuisson's progressive 2014 continues at British
HOYLAKE, England – Progress. Hey, toss a little accent aigu over the ‘e’ and we could try and pass it off as a French word meaning Victor Dubuisson.
You know, the guy who a year ago was ranked 114th in the world, missing from the Open Championship field, and hardly ever entered into any conversations regarding world-class golfers.
Funny how a trip to Turkey can change everything, eh?
PHOTOS: 2014 British Open, Saturday
Check out photos of Saturday's third round of the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.
Wild world, this pro golf business, but a guy can move efficiently forward should he take advantage of his playing opportunities and cash in when put into contention. Case in point: Dubuisson.
The unheralded Frenchman, having already caught snippets of attention with steady play on the European Tour, stormed to victory at the Turkish Airlines Open last November and roared up the world rankings. Two weeks earlier he had finished third at he Omega Masters; a week later he was third in the DP World Tour Championship; and the forward progress has only continued in 2014.
The latest edition took place in Saturday’s weather-hampered third round of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, where Dubuisson fired a 4-under 68 to march into solo fifth with one round to play.
OK, so he’s not exactly within grasp of the Claret Jug, not when he trails by eight to Rory McIlroy, who is playing his own little championship, but you can’t fault the steps taken by Dubuisson to cement his world status. Not that he’s about to pound his chest, because what you notice first about the 24-year-old is how he goes about his chores with a quiet and purposeful demeanor.
“I’m just a normal person. I’m just a normal player,” Dubuisson said. “I play the best I can. Nothing special, you know.”
Maybe not special in a McIlroy sort of way, or perhaps even in a Rickie Fowler or Sergio Garcia or Dustin Johnson sort of way, just to mention the only four names ahead of him on the 54-hole leaderboard here. But for intrigue, few on the world stage catch your attention quite like Dubuisson – partly because people know so little about him, partly because he is exceptional at maintaining a level of anonymity, and partly because if you take the time to study him on the golf course you realize he has got a ton of game and an aggressive mentality that produces excitement.
His short game, so magical and so breathless as he marched into the WGC-Match Play Championship final where he lost to Jason Day, is still something that keeps swing coach Benoit Ducoulombier shaking his head. “He hits great shots, great escapes. I don’t know how he does it,” Ducoulombier said after Dubuisson birded Royal Liverpool’s par-5 18th.
Of course, Ducoulombier noted that Dubuisson had failed to birdie either of the other par 5s on the back, the 10th and 16th, and had bogeyed the par-3 13th. So, “it could have been better,” Ducoulombier said, “but it is OK.”
For sure, it is OK, because the unheralded Dubuisson is still so new to the world stage, still such a fresh face at these major championships. It’s all about gaining experience, which clearly seems to be coming his way.
Having played in the 2010 Open and missed the cut at St. Andrews (80-73), Dubuisson’s next major start was the Masters just three months ago. He missed that cut, too (74-75). But last month he finished T-28 at the U.S. Open (70-72-70-75) and he’s strung together trips of 74-66-68 to put him in position for a high, top-10 finish.
Throw in the fact that Dubuisson has also made the cut at three PGA Tour stops (Farmers Insurance Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Northern Trust Open) and secured Special Temporary Membership and it’s hard to say that 2014 hasn’t been a productive one. Much of that is owed to Dubuisson’s level of comfort in the bigger arenas.
“I just try to focus on my game and I try to be more relaxed, especially when I’m on the course,” he said.
Now ranked 23rd in the world, Dubuisson still had the highest rank in his game during the third round. But as he’s consistently done for the past year, he showed he belonged because his 68 was better than No. 1 Adam Scott’s 69 and No. 18 Jimmy Walker’s 71.
Big crowd? Big stage? Small worry.
“I don’t really watch around. I just focus really on my game. If the crowd is big, it’s not really a big difference.”
What is a big difference is the gap between his 8-under 208 and McIlroy’s 16-under 200, but so be it. For Dubuisson, it’s all about forward progress and he’s quite on track when it comes to that.