Victor ‘The Musketeer’ Dubuisson starting to make waves in pro game after successful amateur days



Swap the sword for a golf club and you have Victor Dubuisson. He’s French, a talent with a stick in his hand and he has a beard. He should start wearing a cravat while out on the course.

The guy hits the ball a country mile. One iron shot today in Turkey went 285 yards. Imagine what happens when he gets his driver out. ‘Thud.’

The 23-year-old leads the Turkish Airlines Open by five shots from some of the game’s best players and is poised to win his first European Tour title after being the world number one amateur. 

Better still, the Ryder Cup is in France in 2018 and with no other young talents in the mould of Dubuisson, who is a bit like Jason Dufner with his laid-back demeanour, the game could really grow there as a result.  

Here’s hoping for a big win for Dubuisson and the game of golf in France tomorrow. Oh and here’s today’s report…

Former world number one amateur Victor Dubuisson had his ‘best day as a professional’ as he moved five shots clear of the stellar field in the Turkish Airlines Open third round on Saturday to put himself in pole position for a first European Tour title.

The 23-year-old Frenchman mixed his usual booming length off the tee – displayed when he drove the 337-yard par-four 15th to set up his eighth birdie in a nine-under-par 63 – with precision and deft touches around the green to put the likes of world number one Tiger Woods and third-ranked Henrik Stenson in the shade.

England’s Ian Poulter carded a 68 to be alone in second on 16-under while American Woods (68) and Swede Stenson (69) were one further back with another Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, whose 62 bettered Woods’ course record of yesterday by a stroke.

The crowds stood in awe of Woods’ streetfighting abilities as the 14-times major winner scrapped his way around the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course but on another sun-kissed day in southern Turkey it was the French who really shone.

Jacquelin set the tone when the 39-year-old equalled the European Tour record of 12 birdies in a round and then it was over to young buck Dubuisson to streak clear and match the 54-hole European Tour low of the season at 21-under.

“With the situation, it’s the best day I did since I turned pro,” said Dubuisson, anticipating a battle to control his nerves on Sunday.

“I know I have a five-shot lead, but with all these great players tomorrow will be a very tough day.”

The world number 108 began his round with four straight birdies and even when he was slightly off target at the par-five 13th he conjured an exquisite chip up a steep bank from the pine needles to the right of the vast green and drained his eight-foot putt for a four.

A stunning iron to five feet on the par-three 14th followed, the Frenchman muttering ‘Allez’ to the ball as it stopped dead on the green to set up another birdie.

Dubuisson then made a mockery of the short 15th with his driver before closing with a ninth birdie to tee up a fantastic opportunity for his biggest win in the game.

“This week it’s all about my short game. I really improved that in the last few months,” said the Frenchman.

“I’ve been working hard around the chipping green, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, before the tournament starts, so it did help me a lot this week on the par 5s.”

Dubuisson’s graceful play contrasted heavily with that of Woods, often out of position from the tee as cameras and phones clicked constantly around one of the world’s most recognisable sportsmen.

He thrashed spectacularly out of the trees on 11, mildly hurting his hand as the club followed through and whacked a branch, but Woods was soon smiling again when his bunker shot left him a short birdie putt which he duly holed.

Woods rolled in a long putt on 14 to make it two birdies in a row, following his bogey on 12 after another wayward tee shot and finished his day with a sheepish smile when he sunk another lengthy putt for birdie having started the par-five by dragging an ugly wood into the trees.

“I’m not out of the tournament. Got to keep fighting, and that’s the way I’ve always played,” said the 2013 PGA Tour player of the year.

“Yesterday I had it dialled in and it’s always hard to follow up a great round with another low one, but somehow I posted four (under) today.”

* Image courtesy of  Pascal – pasukaru76. Many thanks.


Casey gives Monty Full marks. Hot stuff indeed.


Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and some other big names in golf performing the Full Monty? Nope. Just Casey saying Montgomerie, affectionately known as Monty, is bloody good at designing golf courses because he always plays well on them.

Former world number three Casey has praised eight-times European Tour number one Montgomerie’s design skills after making an excellent start at the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open.

Casey scorched around 14 holes in seven-under-par before darkness fell to halt play in the weather-delayed first round, held up due to lightning and storms in Antalya on Thursday morning. The Englishman finished with a six-under 66 to sit two off the lead.

Approaching the form that got him to the pinnacle of the game in 2009, the 36-year-old said he should play on Monty-designed courses more often.

“I seem to play very well around Monty’s golf courses,” said the 12-times European Tour winner.

“I won in Bahrain a couple of years ago and then Carton House this year. I do enjoy his golf courses. I have no idea why, but maybe the fact that you can be incredibly aggressive does bode well for me.

“I made a very aggressive start with eagle at the first hole and this is a golf course that seems to offer a lot of opportunities starting out. I probably aim for the stick probably too frequently, but you could get away with it today.”

Wednesday night’s rain softened the Montgomerie Maxx Royal layout and most players took advantage from the get-go on the European Tour’s last event of the season before the climax next week at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Casey said spectators and his fellow competitors can expect an exciting battle on the southern Turkish coast with the course primed for birdies and world number one Tiger Woods in town.

“The field is exceptionally strong and with the layout of the golf course, and the way it is set up, I fully expect somebody is going to get to maybe 20 plus under par this week,” said Casey.

Woods struggled to one-under through 10 holes when he stopped for the day though the 14-times major winner has five wins so far this season and won the PGA Tour player of the year award.

The American got to three-under with some early birdies on Friday but a bogey on the par-five 18th left him six back.

Tight at the top in Turkey as Tiger toils in weather-delayed first round

Young Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez held the clubhouse lead after the weather-delayed first round of the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open on Thursday as world number one Tiger Woods was far from his best.

Olesen, whose name translates into ‘Thunder Bear’, put the three-hour lightning delay to the back of his mind as he and Gonzalez both fired six-under-par 66, a stroke behind three players still on the course including England’s Paul Casey, but five ahead of Woods.

The American 14-times major winner was on the 10th hole alongside US Open champion Justin Rose (-1) and European Tour money list leader Henrik Stenson (-4) when the klaxon sounded to signal the end of day one at around 2:45pm British time.

Woods, Rose and Stenson are among 63 players in the 78-man field who will resume their first round on Friday at 6am (8am local) before starting their second 18 holes.

After storms and heavy overnight rain had lashed the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya the players made immediate progress on the softened 7,100-yard layout, Casey (-7 through 14 holes) starting with an eagle on the par-five first and many making birdies.

Casey then went on a run of four birdies in five holes from the 9th before a par at the 14th sealed a good start for the former Ryder Cup winner, back in form after clinching his first title since 2011 when he came out on top at the Irish Open in June.

“It was foot flat to the floor today and just fire at the pins, take advantage of the soft conditions we’ve got and see what happens,” Casey told reporters.

“It was nice because I had Tommy Fleetwood and Gregory Bourdy matching me all the way. I didn’t feel like I was out there by myself.  I clearly felt, if these guys are making a lot of birdies, then the entire field is going to be making a lot of birdies.”

Fellow Englishman Steve Webster (12 holes) and South African Darren Fichardt (14) were level with Casey while Olesen and Gonzalez had six others yet to complete their rounds for company, no surprise given the favourable conditions.

PGA Tour player of the year Woods, with five victories in 2013, was a surprising omission from the top of the leaderboard.

Although the American curled in a long birdie putt on the 8th to perk up his day, there was limited fluidity from the biggest name in the game, followed by the largest crowds throughout his first round.

Stenson’s game was sharper and the FedExCup $10 million winner in September, looking to claim the European Tour’s order of merit title for the first time, started birdie, bogey, birdie, birdie to show up his playing partners.

England’s Rose trails Stenson by just over €300,000 in the Race to Dubai with Ian Poulter (-3 through 11 holes) in fourth and with a good shout of being crowned European number one next week in Dubai if he can follow up Sunday’s second-place finish in China.

Poulter delights in Turkish storm on day one of big-money event



That’s Ian Poulter at the British Open in July, on the fairway, not the water-carrying chap dressed like a flamingo. Poulter’s rather good when in full stride. You should watch out for him this week at the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open.

The globe-trotting world number 17 cannily used a three-hour weather delay today to catch up on some sleep ahead of his challenge to become European number one for the first time.

The £4.5 million event, also featuring 14-times major winner Tiger Woods, was delayed due to lightning.

The in-form Poulter, fourth in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai money list which culminates next week at the DP World Tour Championship, is chasing first-placed Henrik Stenson of Sweden, the absent Graeme McDowell and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

“Time for a quick snooze. Alarm set for 1 hour’s time. Lovely jubbly,” tweeted the flamboyant Englishman, who finished second last week at the big-money WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

Poulter is playing with fellow Ryder Cup hero Lee Westwood and Italian youngster Matteo Manassero in the penultimate group out on the course, behind world number one Woods, England’s Rose and Stenson.

Play got underway at 10:05am, after which I ate the rest of my pizza from last night.

Where’s the ‘community’ spirit in golf these days? Time for the sport to lighten up and modernise


Cycling out of Manchester through Stockport yesterday the word ‘community’ came to mind.

The entire south-east Manchester town was seemingly clad in blue as thousands of football fans poured towards Edgeley Park for their team’s conference clash against Gloucester City.

Later on, thrashing my pedals through the Peak District and I did not pass one other cyclist who failed to nod back. Some even called out “afternoon” despite grappling with one of the area’s many tough hills as I whizzed past them in the opposite direction.

The day before I’d received an email from my golf club addressing slow play, which made me realise the last time I got my sticks out the glacial pace of other players was a popular topic of conversation, not to mention out on the course.

“Oh come on let us through,” moans one. “Any longer on this hole and I’ll get a Guan Tianlang time penalty from a referee,” complains another.

Guan is of course the 14-year-old sensation who made the cut at the Masters in April despite a time penalty for slow play, which said all you need to know about the sport: often intriguing, occasionally utterly mesmerising but in the case of Guan’s heavy-handed punishment, at times infuriating.

Don’t get me wrong, golf is almost always excellent fun and while slow play and overcrowded courses certainly need addressing there’s a bigger issue at the heart of the little white ball game: community.

Take cyclists as an example. They nod at each other. Agreed they’d be loathed to acknowledge someone if they had been held up, but therein lies the beauty of pedalling freely on the roads. One simple manoeuvre and the slow are left behind.

Or football. Entire communities turn out to support their local team. This happens in every corner of the globe.

The lone golfer, in contrast, is so completely absorbed by what they are doing that sideways glances or a polite doffing of the cap get forgotten, much like groups who are held up by the players in front begin cursing their luck and forget to just enjoy their round. Hell, the pros can do it and they’re playing for a lot more than just a pint.

Tiger Woods, during the 2010 Open Championship’s second round, sat on the fifth tee for over 45 minutes due to a hold up but rather than sulk the 14-times major champion began throwing smoked almonds at fellow American Sean O’Hair, in the group in front. Woods smiled throughout. O’Hair said his round got going from that moment on. There was no angst, more community and a sense of togetherness.

Take note casual golfers, things could be worse than an on-course delay: you could be stuck in an office with no chance of leaving before 2am.

Start thinking of golf as a way to meet people, discuss business networking and lower your handicap. There’s no better sport for facilitating conversation.

Even if you prefer the lone ranger approach, don’t sweat. Get online, sign up to a social media platform where you can interact with all your old golf buddies then meet others in a similar position as well as staying in touch with your coach, and you will no longer scowl at the elderly fourball who refuse to let you through. Instead you’ll ask your mate to film a full practice swing, send it to your coach and a few days later the weak slice will have vanished.  

Life is increasingly online these days and your golf game would benefit from making a similar futuristic leap of faith.

Wryter Cup 2013: The ‘Maul in Porthcawl’

wryter2Forget the Ryder Cup ‘War on the shore’ at Kiawah Island in 1991. The British Press Golfing Society’s (PGS) finest gathered at Royal Porthcawl in south Wales last Monday and Tuesday for the annual tussle with the APG (Association de la presse et du golf), their French counterparts, for the 23rd edition of the Wryter Cup. Poised at 11-11, the French having won the previous five events, the British weren’t there just to make up the numbers…
Except they did. 8-0. After the usually chaotic and drink-friendly Sunday night preceding the competition, the PGS managed to haul themselves out of bed and into a decent position at 3.5-4.5 down following the morning foursomes. A respectable start for the Brits, resplendent in their blue shirts. Then the quills were sharpened over lunch and history was written.
PGS fourball team after team reported back to base camp wearing a smile that said it all. Victory. An hour or so after the British press, consisting of honchos from the BBC, CNN, Sky Sports, Channel 4, ESPN, The Mail Online, Findlay Media, Talisman Media and the world of photography, registered their first scalp of a glorious afternoon to drag the scores level, the unprecedented whitewash had been completed to take an 11.5-4.5 lead into Tuesday’s singles. The Porthcawl clubhouse was drunk dry of Guinness.
The PGS kitted out in Tiger’s traditional final-day red and with the hosts needing five points to get their hands on the cup, there was only one winner come the morning, despite the APG’s run of six straight wins to reduce the arrears at one point to 15.5-11.5.
Alas there was to be no glorious French comeback and the PGS won four of the last five matches on the course to put the seal on a 20-12 final result. The ritual of post-match shirt-swapping was even won by the Brits. “I’d prefer the blue shirt to the red one please,” said one Frenchman. “You’re not having that mate, that’s my 8-0 shirt,” retorted his British opponent.

The French came, they saw (Port Talbot in the backdrop and some lovely black cows grazing in a nearby field not to mention several pesky crows picking up balls off greens and flying into the distance), and were conquered. Vive le PGS.wryter1

Earplugs? Check. “Noisy” Walker Cup set for its weekend in the limelight.


“Noise, a tremendous amount of noise,” was former Walker Cup player Stiggy Hodgson’s response when I asked him how he would sum up the biennial competition that pits the best Great Britain and Ireland amateurs against the might of the United States.

Hodgson’s stand out memory was on the first tee at Merion in 2009, where he estimated 9,000 fans had set up camp to roar on the home side as they went on to win their third consecutive Cup.

“The noise was something so loud you couldn’t even hear yourself talk. I couldn’t hear a word at Merion,” said the Englishman.

The scenario for Nigel Edwards’ GB&I team and holders on Saturday and Sunday will be much the same at Long Island’s National Golf Links of America, the venue for the first Walker Cup in 1922 (pictured above).

Links you say? Don’t be fooled, Edwards describes the layout as a “Sunningdale with slopier greens” and the Welshman has every confidence his team will step up in the cauldron-like atmosphere.

“The crowds will be boisterous but that’s fine, it’ll add to the atmosphere and that’s something to relish. These lads all want to play on the biggest stage so get used to it and get used to it quickly.”

England’s Steven Brown, a winner on the Alps Tour this year and fellow Alps Tour player Mikey Stewart, who both had key roles in the 2011 upset of the USA at Royal Aberdeen, have fond memories of a tournament that now seems worlds away from the small galleries they regularly play in front of around Europe on the satellite tour.

Brown was quick to point out how “historically GB&I are very good at foursomes” and a look at 2011 shows the home team and underdogs won 6 1/2 points from 8 available in that format. Brown backed the holders to do much the same this time around.

Scotland’s Stewart said simply: “It was the biggest week of my life by a long, long way. Nigel had got letters from past players who all said the same thing, and that it even surpassed the Ryder Cup.

“The Walker Cup is part of GB&I, it’s so much smaller than the continent of Europe. So if you beat America it’s a massive deal.”

Like Hodgson, who followed up his 2009 heroics on a losing side by earning a place on the 2011 team, America’s Peter Uihlein also played back-to-back Walker Cups and said he would be “watching” from Switzerland where he is this week for the European Masters.

“I loved the one in Europe with the knowledgeable Scottish fans, though I enjoyed being on the winning side more than on the losing side,” he told me at Sunningdale in June.

“The Walker Cup is nice for the resumé, and it gives you an added confidence that you’re in the ten best collegiate amateur players in the United States. That’s nice to have, plus it’s always good to join the elite list of past competitors.”

Uihlein beat Hodgson in their Sunday afternoon singles match in Scotland two years ago, but it was the GB&I boys who came out on top in a thrilling contest.

Can they do it again, a win which would mean the biggest trophies in team golf (Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup) are all held by GB&I or Europe teams? Hodgson doesn’t see why not…

“With a captain like Nigel Edwards you’ve always got a chance. We could be going in with a team of six handicappers, Nigel would find a way. He’ll make them feel like they’re special. I think they’ll be pretty tough to beat.”