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The Most Interesting Men In The World

Continued (page 3 of 3)

Did he really leave school at 10?

"Yeah, I was like, yeah 12 -- 10 to 12. I was doing some work at home, but I was more going to the golf every day, yeah."

Where were his parents?

"Well, my parents, they -- well, I was more by myself, yeah."

Could he clarify?

"No. Just no personal family question. I don't like to think about that, sorry."

"Ten or 12?" repeats Ernie Els, who also lost to Dubuisson on the 18th hole. "That's sadder than being a 19-year-old pro," Ernie says from experience.

"I can remember the first time Tiger and I talked about this. I think it was in Phuket [Thailand], on the practice putting green. He was 18. I was just 24. He asked if he should turn pro, and I said 18 was too young for reasons that had nothing to do with golf. Nineteen might be all right, and 20 was fine."

At 20, Tiger asked him again.

"Mate, I've never seen anybody readier than you are. You still have to learn a lot, but you can probably win right now without knowing too much. Sometimes it's better not to know too much." "Tiger told me, 'I'm worried about how people are going to look at me. I haven't finished college.' "

Ernie laughed, then and now. " 'Tiger, please. I haven't started college.' "

But to leave school at fifth or seventh grade and go straight to the golf course ...

"That's a little heartbreaking, isn't it?" Els says. "He seems like a really great kid. Very friendly. I met him at the Nedbank [South Africa] last year, but only for about two minutes. I'm impressed by him, very much so, not just his length and his short game, but the way he handles himself on the course. He's a little one-dimensional at the moment, left to right. But now that he's secured his card, he'll be out here growing."

Or "blooming," as Thomas Levet puts it. Once, Levet was the face of French golf. (Jean Van de Velde, with his pants legs rolled up, was the knees of French golf.) "Jean and I lost the Open Championship in playoffs," Levet says. "Gregory Havret lost the U.S. Open by a stroke." This guy could get them to the finish line.

By Levet's calculations, France has some 420,000 golfers. "Only 4,000 are added every year," he says. "It's not much. I honestly believe Victor could do for France what Seve did for Spain. As a player, he has big room for improvement, but he's already one of the best drivers on tour. And he's on his way. Big time."

For tax reasons, Dubuisson has shifted from Cannes to Andorra, Charlemagne's Camp David in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, where nobody knows Victor or golf, and he can be alone.

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