WGC Match Play: Victor Dubuisson all but books Ryder Cup place
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 24/02/14 2:34pm
Jason Day may have walked away with the Walter Hagen trophy, but beaten WGC Match Play finalist Victor Dubuisson won an army of new admirers and all-but cemented his Ryder Cup place after a sparkling week for the Frenchman in Arizona.
The Frenchman came from three down with six to play to extend Sunday's final at Dove Mountain, before twice conjuring up remarkable escapes from the cactus during extra holes that left Day wryly shaking his head in disbelief.
Australia Day finally edged the contest, but the 23-year-old Dubuisson had the £545,000 runners-up prize which looks to have locked up a Ryder Cup debut for him later this year.
After beating a world-class field to win the Turkish Airlines Open late last season, Dubuisson is now way out in front on the European Points List, all-but securing his place at Gleneagles this September.
And after watching Dubuisson come from behind to beat Ernie Els, before his remarkable escapes during the final, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said he would be a great addition to his team.
Ryder Cup spot
"It looks like with the points he has accumulated he is a nail-on now," McGinley said on Sky Sports after the final. "If he was 90 per cent before the week he is 99.9 per cent now.
"With all the evidence we have seen this week I think he will be a very welcome addition to the team.
"You can't help but be very impressed. A lot of us were all learning about Victor and the fortitude he has shown under pressure all week has been most impressive."
European Team Qualifiers
(as it stands)
"He started the semi-final very slowly and did the same this afternoon and each time he has come back by playing himself into the match, which is a difficult thing to do when you are two or three down.
"He has hit some quality iron shots in and made birdies which gave him a little bit of momentum and then forced mistakes from his opponent."
Dubuisson admitted afterwards that making McGinley's Ryder Cup team had always been his top target for the season, even if he didn't make that public.
"I didn't like to say it was my number one target, because that would have put extra pressure on me, but it was my number one target," he said. "I'm very excited and this was very good preparation for me because now I know what I need to work on."
US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson was also impressed with Dubuisson, especially those miraculous escapes, saying on Twitter: "Two of the greatest up-and-downs I have ever seen Victor!!!"
Day was a relieved man to finally get over the line after having to stomach watching Dubuisson refuse to give in despite being behind and under pressure at the end of the final.
"Coming down the stretch he was just unbelievable," said Day. "I've never seen someone as young, apart from Jordan Spieth, and in the old days Tiger Woods, be so clutch, especially out of the cactus.
"I kept shaking my head because it was so surprising. There were a couple of times where I thought he was absolutely dead. The tournament was mine. I just stuck through it and it was tough, but I'm glad I got it done."