The coronavirus pandemic has – for now – ended Victor Perez's lifelong dream of playing in the Masters. NCG sat down with the Frenchman
This time last week Victor Perez should have been making his way down Magnolia Drive for not only his Masters debut but his first major appearance. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the the golf calendar, the Frenchman is left wondering what might have been.
Last September Perez won his maiden European Tour title at the Dunhill Links Championship in his adopted home of Scotland. The victory at the Home of Golf was followed by runner-up finishes at the Turkish Airlines Open and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a run that catapulted him into the world’s top 50 for the first time and, with it, a place at the 84th Masters.
“You’re very excited at first, and very proud of what you’ve done,” he tells NCG, explaining how he felt when he realised he had made it. “It was going to be my first major.
“It’s a realisation of the things you’ve done. So obviously I was really pumped and really excited.
“I thought I was going to play the Players, the [WGC] Match Play, and the Masters at the start of April. And then it’s postponed and you think it might be cancelled.
“So there’s all these things that we don’t have any control over that are happening and you’re hoping that there’s a scenario that it’s going to end up positively.”
The 27-year-old is one of 23 players who would have been hoping to become the first Masters rookie to slip on the Green Jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 – and he still will if the tournament goes ahead in November as is now planned, with Augusta National confirming the field will remain as it would have done had the tournament started as scheduled.
But Perez remains cautious: “There are still things that are going to have to happen for it to work, and health is going to be the number one priority and I think things are going to have to get back into place before golf can resume,” the World No 40 explains.
“Obviously I’m thrilled that the tournament is still going ahead in November and I hope to be ready to go when it comes.”
Like anyone who has ever picked up a club, playing in the Masters will be the realisation of a lifelong dream for Perez.
“It was always the first one of the year which makes it more exciting,” he says. “The PGA Championship would be the last one and then you’d have to wait from August back to April. So you had to wait a huge amount of time and then April came you were like, ‘Oh god finally!’ I watched all of them from probably about 2000 onward.”
So how popular is the Masters in France? “I mean it’s the third or fourth highest-ranked sporting event that everybody gets to watch,” Perez explains.“We always had very good coverage, and we always got to watch the entire thing, back in the days where you watched five hours of golf.
“Being Eastern time zone, you could watch it till one in the morning and you were fine.”
We can’t end the chat without asking if, given the choice, which of the four majors he would like to win most. The answer is much more thought out than we expected.
“Next year? The Masters. And then the year after the Open is at St Andrew’s so I’ll say that.
“Then everyone is happy,” he jokes, before adding: “I mean, obviously if somebody was telling me I’m going to win the Open next year at St George’s I’ll take it.”
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