IT WASN’T the Turkey trot he had hoped for after starting with a five-shot lead, but Victor Dubuisson got there in the end.
Despite seeing Jamie Donaldson draw level with a hole in one at the 16th, the 23-year-old Frenchman held on in Belek to claim his maiden European Tour title. Victory by two shots in the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open meant finishing ahead of his own golfing hero, Tiger Woods, and opened all sorts of doors for the softly-spoken Dubuisson.
“I did not know about this,” he replied to being told that he was now likely to earn an invitation to next year’s Masters after climbing into the world’s top 40 on the back of a win that earned him just over £725,000.
“Does it really make me top 40 now?” he added. “I didn’t know I could make such a big step in one tournament – it’s amazing.”
Almost out of nowhere, Donaldson emerged as the main threat, the Welshman sandwiching his ace - which earned him a million air miles - with birdies at the 15th and 18th to close with a 63 and set the clubhouse target of 22-under. However, Dubuisson, who had started with nine successive pars before his first birdie of the day on the tenth, rolled in a curly birdie putt at the 17th before signing off with his 28th birdie of the week. “It hasn’t sunk in that I just won such a big tournament,” he admitted. “Tiger, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were all in contention with me today. So it’s a really great feeling and I’m really proud. It was the toughest golf day of my life.”
US Open champion Rose closed with a 65 to share third with Woods, who birdied four of the last six holes in his 67 then had a pop at the critics who’d written him off following his injury and off-course problems. “So many of you guys here were saying I could never win again. I’ve got eight wins since then, so I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made,” he said.
Happy in Belek were Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay after they closed with 65 and 64 to finish joint-seventh and joint-18th respectively. “Shooting 65 and 66 on the weekend was great,” said Warren after his best finish since losing in a play-off in the PGA Championship. “I didn’t think I’d done myself justice the last couple of months. I felt something was missing, but I turned it around here, which was nice.”
Ramsay’s round equalled his best of the season. “It felt pretty easy, to be honest,” he said. “I holed two good putts – one from about 40 feet and the other 25 feet. But the rest of the time I was in close and also hit it stiff a couple of times.”