Victor Dubuisson looked shattered as he prepared to dash to the limousine waiting to whisk him to Phoenix airport and back to Cannes via London following his thrilling WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship tussle and ultimate defeat to Jason Day.
The Australian beat the flamboyant Frenchman at the fifth extra hole after suffering what he confessed were a couple of near heart attacks following some Houdini-like escapes from the desert that bordered on the ridiculous.
As bitterly disappointed as he felt to lose to Day in what may well be the final WGC-Accenture Match Play held in Tucson, the 23-year old’s eyes lit up when he heard the Graeme McDowell would love him as a foursomes partner in September’s Ryder Cup.
“And I would love to play with Graeme,” Dubuisson said. “He is a real gentleman and a, how do you say?, a really classy guy.”
More than 500,000 points clear at the top of the Ryder Cup points list and certain now of a place at Gleneagles, Dubuisson confessed: “I’m very excited about the Ryder Cup. It was a big goal for me this year. Now I have a place on the team. And this event was a good preparation for me because I know what I have to work on for the Ryder Cup.”
He has yet to speak to skipper Paul McGinley but plans to catch up with him and discuss September’s date with the Americans.
As far as new world No 4 Day is concerned, Tom Watson’s charges had better get ready to take on a competitor who could rival McDowell and Ian Poulter for match-play grit.
“If he wasn’t a sure bet before, I think Paul has pretty much set him on the team now,” Day said. “It’s unbelievable how well he played this week. I never heard much of him before other than I think he won in Turkey last year against Tiger [Woods].
“He just has a phenomenal game. Just unbelievable heart. And very, very clutch in the pressure situations.”
Dubuisson, who has soared from 233rd to 23rd in the world over the last two years, came back from two-down with two to play to force extra holes against Day and then stayed alive with successive recoveries from the desert at the 19th and 20th.
“I mean, 17 was just unbelievable,” Day said of Dubuisson’s 174-yard fairway bunker shot to 13 feet and the putt that followed. “The shot that he hit from the bunker to the green, and then to have to make that putt to keep things going was good.
“It’s definitely going to be an interesting Ryder Cup. I haven’t really watched Ryder Cups in the past, but I’m definitely going to watch it this time.”
Dubuisson has come from behind to beat McDowell in the quarter-finals and Ernie Els in Sunday morning’s semi-finals but saved the best for last against Day with his recoveries from a cactus on the 19th and a bush on the 20th, prompting Shane Lowry to tweet: “Ah here, he’s taking the piss now.”
“I just played it like I had nothing to lose,” Dubuisson said. “On the first hole, on the first play-off hole, I was a little bit surprised it ended up in the desert. It was a great shot, but then I made two very good ups and downs.
“I made a great putt on the 14th [the fourth extra hole]. But on the 15th he made a great birdie, a great chip. He made the very important putts to stay up. And he can be very proud.”
Day was caught on camera shaking his head in disbelief after Dubuisson’s second desert escape at the 20th.
“I was thinking, ‘Why won’t this guy go away?’ I am doing everything I can to win the tournament and he just won’t go away. It just says a lot about his character and how much heart he has. It’s going to be exciting to watch him play at the Ryder Cup.”
Day’s heart has been questioned in recent years. His individual win in last year’s World Cup of Golf was just his second victory on the main tours following his maiden victory in the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Classic.
Victory in Tucson moved him to fourth in the world rankings but it also confirmed to him that he has themental strength and will to win.
“I’m going to be honest here,” he said, recalling his wild child past, the death of his absentee father when he was 12 and his banishment to boarding school. “I came from a very poor family. So it wasn’t winning that was on my mind when I first came out on the PGA Tour. It was money.
“I wanted to play for money, because I’d never had it before. Winning takes care of everything. And it’s not about the money anymore. I just want to play golf, golf that I love, and win trophies.”
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