The enigmatic Victor Dubussion’s shock retirement

Bernie McGuire
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Victor Dubuisson (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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I guess it comes as a surprise that a professional golfer at the ‘young’ age of 33-years, and who has competed at the game’s highest level, should announce his retirement.

This is the news that appeared in the leading French sports newspaper L’Equipe with the enigmatic Victor Dubuisson indicating he is stepping down from formal competition.

And it’s not because Dubuisson may be akin to Tiger Woods and fighting what could also be a career-threatening injury.

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No, the French newspaper heralded the news with the headline: Victor Dubuission announces his retirement: “Loneliness had become extremely heavy.”

And it’s even more surprising as Dubuisson was due to tee-it-up in this week’s 2024 LIV Golf League qualifier in Abu Dhabi but a quick perusal of the LIV website confirms that his name is now missing.

“I feel like I’ve reached my limits and I know I can find pleasure elsewhere, I’m convinced of that,” said Dubussion to L’Equipe.

“It’s life, for me it’s not an end. I started from nothing, so I’m extremely satisfied with what I’ve done. I still see myself as a little kid with my little bag and my Decathlon clubs.

“I was not predestined to have this career at all.”

After a highly-successful amateur teams career representing France, Dubuisson turned pro in 2010, aged just 20.

He joined the European Tour that same year, playing 10 events but not gaining full membership though that materialised a year later, and from 2011 right through to last year, he held his card until this year finishing a lowly 284th on the Race to Dubai, and playing only eight events

In those 14-years Dubuisson teed-up in 223 European Tour events, winning two, recording four seconds, seven thirds and 24 top-10s to earn €10.1m in prize-money.  He climbed to the 15th best golfer in the world in 2015 and steps down as the current World No. 1,035th ranked golfer.

I began to get to know Dubuisson, but really only to acknowledge each other, on many return flights from various European Tour destinations to Edinburgh as I was returning to my house in Crail and he, as I understood, had a girlfriend living in St. Andrews.

He broke through for a maiden European Tour victory in 2013 at the inaugural hosting of the Turkish Airlines Open on the Montgomerie Maxx course in Belek, and I remember the return flight vividly, as both Dubuisson and myself were seated in first class – yours truly a few rows closer to the front (smiling).

Dubusssion then finished runner-up at the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to Aussie Jason Day, and in one of craziest final days in golf for some time.

The Frenchman found his way into the final at Dove Mountain taking out Kevin Streelman, Swede Peter Hanson, Bubba Watson and then Graeme McDowell to beat Ernie Els 1up in the semi-final, and going down at the 23rd hole to Day.

However, what made the final in the Arizona desert bizarre was that there were many occasions when Day had his French rival on the ropes, only for Dubuisson to somehow remarkably halve the hole. Indeed, Dubuisson was two-down after just two holes and then three-down after nine holes.  Though two winning inward nine birdies, along with bogey by Day at 18 had the match at all-square.

Their match went into extra holes both halving the 19th and 20th holes with pars, also halving the 21st with bogeys before Day won with a birdie at the 23rd hole.

Dubuisson’s great effort was enough early in that 2024 season to gain “Special Temporary Membership” on the PGA Tour, which he accepted. This allowed him unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the 2014 season. He finished 9th at the 2014 Open Championship and 7th at the PGA Championship.

Those results were good enough to qualify third on the European Ryder Cup team qualifying table.

It was McDowell, who Dubuisson had defeated in Arizona, who took the then 24-year-old ‘under his wing’ at Gleneagles and the always very-confident McDowell and the ‘very to himself’ Dubuisson combined brilliantly to win their opening foursomes match against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

The well-spoken Northern Irishman and the softly-spoken Frenchman teamed again to win the second day afternoon foursomes and with Dubuisson halving the very last Singles match Zach Johnson for a stunning five point success at Gleneagles.

And while I never found Dubuisson too difficult to talk with, it was not the case when it came to the French golfing media. Once, at the French Open, he indicated he would not be hosting any pre-tournament news conference in front of the local media. Instead, he arranged for a class from a nearby high school to fill the seats in the media centre at Le Golf National and he answered their questions, while the French-speaking media were banned.

I know this for a fact, as I stood in the room when this bizarre scenario unfolded.

Such was Dubuisson – a good golfer, but an ‘I really don’t need the media’ golfer.

Now based in France, we’re only about a 70-minute drive south of Nice and I’ve had the pleasure to play the Old Course at the Cannes-Mandelieu, a great old-fashioned tree-line course very close to the Mediterranean, where you need to board a ferry to cross a canal in order to play several holes.

It is Dubuisson’s home course and there is a wonderful 2014 Ryder Cup tribute to him in the clubhouse, very much a ‘Victor Dubuisson Room’  including a number of personal items from that week he donated to the club.

Actually, the photograph appearing in the article in today’s L’Equipe I’m sure was taken in front of the clubhouse.

I’ve got on well and still continue to do so with most of the leading French golfers who were out there competing from the 1990s through to just a few years ago and while my French, and just like my English, is not the best they’ve all been most engaging even if it’s just a few words.

Strangely, all but Dubuisson. You just didn’t have a fireside chat with him.

I’m not saying he was being rude or standoffish but he was a shy individual who really did let his clubs do the talking. Yes, there was a few who could not get on with him but was just his nature

I understand that he’s purchased two houses in Spain, one for his parents and the other for himself where he plan to chill out, enjoying the sunshine, play social golf and also fish.

Anyway, each to our own and all I can do is wish Victor well in his retirement from pro golf.

 

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