Victor Dubuisson arrived in Southern Arizona this week with a solid résumé, some success and little fanfare.
He left Sunday night $906,000 richer and an Internet legend.
In his loss to Jason Day in the championship match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Dubuisson provided the shot of the tournament — not once, but twice.
The first came on the first playoff hole with Day, where he swung through a jumping cholla and landed his ball 4 feet from the hole. It looked like he didn’t have a shot, but instead he went from 88 feet away to giving himself a short putt to extend the match.
He pulled another shot out of his bag of tricks on the next hole.
His ball again found the desert — and he again landed it close to the pin, this time from a shade over 7 feet.
Even though he went on to lose on the fifth playoff hole, his shots were instantly uploaded to YouTube and picked up by numerous sports websites.
By the time he walked off the course at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, he was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.
Informed after the match that he had made a bunch of new American fans, Dubuisson was clearly pleased.
“It’s nice that the people like me,” he said. “It’s my fourth start here, and I think I need to get used to the courses and the grass. But I did well this week, and I had some good nerve against my opponent.
“I know what I have to do now to improve.”
Even though he was ranked No. 30 in the world entering the event, not much was known about Dubuisson, even in the golf world.
Even Day figured he would be playing Ernie Els in the championship match. Instead, Dubuisson beat Els 1 up in the semis.
“I honestly thought it was going to be an Ernie Els-Jason Day match,” Day said. “Vic came back strong in that one. I’ve never heard much of him. I met him down in the World Cup in Melbourne. I’ve watched a little bit of him, but not too much.
“He’s a great guy. I mean, a very genuine guy.”
Dubuisson now figures to be a lock for the European Ryder Cup team in September. Not only will he likely have enough points to qualify, but he also now has the reputation of being one of the tougher match play players in the world.
Before losing to Day, Dubuisson took out — in order — Kevin Streelman, Peter Hanson, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Els.
“If he wasn’t a sure bet before, I think (captain) Paul (Lawrie) has pretty much set him on the team now,” Day said. “It’s unbelievable how well he played this week. He just has a phenomenal game and just unbelievable heart. I haven’t really watched Ryder Cups in the past, but I’m definitely going to watch it this time.”
Added Dubuisson, “This week, I learned a lot. It will help me for the Ryder Cup.”
Before his second-place finish at Dove Mountain, Dubuisson played three tournaments on the West Coast swing: the Farmers Insurance Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open. His highest finish was 13th at Pebble Beach.
Fowler claims third
Rickie Fowler, who beat Els in 19 holes in the third-place match, obviously would have preferred to leave Dove Mountain with the Walter Hagen Cup. But he isn’t complaining.
The Oklahoma State product arrived in Southern Arizona having missed three straight cuts. He also hadn’t finished in the top five of an American tournament since last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
After losing to Day in the semifinals 3 and 2, Fowler rebounded with the win over Els.
“It was a great week,” said Fowler, 25. “I obviously had some great wins over a lot of great players. I lost to Jason, and it would have been nice to get that one. But he’s playing very well.”
Fowler’s finish propelled him from No. 56 in the world golf rankings to No. 38. With that jump, he’s now eligible to play in the WGC-Cadillac Championship in two weeks at Doral.
“I was planning on it in the beginning of the year, and three missed cuts drops you in the world rankings pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s good to get on a roll and get some momentum built up.”
Fowler’s previous best performance at Match Play was a ninth-place finish in 2011.
- Day played a total of 113 holes on the week and 39 on Sunday. Dubuisson finished with 110 holes on the week and 41 on the last day.
It took Day 90 holes to reach the championship match, which ranks as the second-most holes played to reach the finals. The record is 95, recorded by Geoff Ogilvy in 2006.
“It’s definitely a long week,” Day said. “You just have to get your mind wrapped around the week. Six rounds and it could go extra holes, like I did today.”
- Day is the second Australian to win the tournament, joining Ogilvy, who won it in 2006 and 2009.