Victor Dubuisson seemed destined to be a Ryder Cup superstar, but things haven't quite out that way. Mark Townsend tried to find out just what went wrong for the Frenchman
There are plenty of stories about his childhood and leaving school at the age of 10. Or was it 12? Who knows? As Shane Ryan points out in his book Chasing the Legends: “Even very basic details of his accepted biography are wrong. In every story written about him at home and abroad, for instance, his birthplace is listed as Cannes. In truth, he was born on April 22, 1990 at the Clinique St Georges in Nice, and though his family moved several times, they never once lived in Cannes. Victor only moved there himself after he turned pro.”
What we do know for sure is that his uncle, Herve Dubuisson, was one of the greatest basketball players in French history, playing more games and scoring more points than any other player. In one match against Greece he scored 51 points. In 2017 there was a film, Le Blanc Qui Sautait Au-dessus Des Buildings – The White Man Who Jumps Above Buildings – made about him.
As Victor grew older he had an increasing mistrust of authority and appointments, which may explain his Ryder Cup behaviour, and, as Ryan neatly sums up, he’s a contrary soul.
“Victor can come across as selfish in these stories but eventually a more complex truth emerges – he’s self-centred, sure, but not malicious. It simply doesn’t occur to him that life could be lived another way. It’s almost as though there’s a barrier between Victor’s brain and the world of social niceties – until he can be convinced, he sees nothing but bad intentions in other people, and therefore sees no reason to extend his own good faith. It smacks fairly of paranoia and any goodwill he establishes with others tends to be tenuous at best.”
One fairly consistent theme with Dubuisson is his distrust of the media. At the 2015 Open de France, his first appearance back on home soil after Gleneagles, he refused to attend any press conferences, instead hosting 22 local schoolchildren and taking questions from them. There is a very odd picture buried away online of two rows of small children with a handful of media sat behind them.
When Dubuisson spotted a certain journalist he asked for him to be removed and, reportedly, wouldn’t play unless his picture was removed from any poster or billboard promoting the tournament.
Benjamin Cadiou writes for Journal du Golf, France’s leading golf magazine, and has known Dubuisson since his amateur days.
“I first met him in 2007, it was one of my first assignments, and he was playing for the national team with the likes of Benjamin Hebert. At the beginning he was a bit shy but it wasn’t a problem but he became more suspicious as the years went on.
“Five years ago at Torrey Pines, the month before he reached the final of the WGC-Match Play, he told me he wouldn’t play for the next 30 years. He didn’t want to spend his whole life on tour and he had other interests like cars and fishing. Romain Langasque, who was his partner at the 2016 World Cup, told us in his column last November that Victor was fed up with the travelling and airports.
“We had a good relationship and he would text me late at night saying we should build a better relationship but then it got worse if anything. We haven’t talked since 2015.”
With there being two sides to every story this is how Dubuisson has explained his dealings with the press: “I have good relations with a lot of journalists. The problem is the journalists in France, they will ask you one question about golf and then nine questions about your private life. People used to not be very interested in golf in France, so if it was an article only about golf, they will not really read it.”
Then again, if you were to look up any interviews with Dubuisson, you might struggle. Apparently he will do a couple of interviews with Nice-Matin journalist Fabien Pigalle.
A rare certainty around Dubuisson is quite how brilliant and important to French golf he could be. He would comfortably have been the poster boy of the Ryder Cup, whether he liked it or not, had he made the team.
Now the World No. 478, he has been as high as 14th which is pretty much unheard of for a French player and, even if you’re not a fan of golf in France, you would know who Victor Dubuisson is. He might be a loner who would rather rely on room service than eat out with his peers but there is more than a little respect for his talents.
It took Jason Day 23 holes to see him off in the final of the WGC-Match Play in Arizona in 2014, having been 3-up with six to play, and the Australian came away a big fan after some of the greatest recoveries most of us have ever witnessed at the business end of things.
“Vic coming down the stretch was just unbelievable,” Day said. “I’ve never seen someone as young, apart from Jordan Spieth and, in the old days, Tiger Woods, how clutch he was, especially out of the cactus. I kept shaking my head, there were a couple of times where I thought he was absolutely dead, the tournament was mine.
“Just a phenomenal game. Just unbelievable heart. I haven’t really watched Ryder Cups in the past, but I’m definitely going to watch it this time.”
Revisiting the 2014 Ryder Cup Martin Kaymer spoke to the ‘Golf, by TourMiss’ website and admitted that, despite having been part of the same tour since 2010, he knew next to nothing of Dubuisson. But, after a week playing on the same team, he came away with a different opinion of the enigmatic one.
“He’s a tough one to figure out,” Kaymer admitted. “I think no one knows him as a person. He was very nice to me. We had good conversations. If you sit down with him and get to know him well, he’s actually a very interesting person. But people really don’t give him a chance sometimes.
“So I don’t know what the story is with him, you have to ask him, but I think it’s very normal for an athlete.”