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Dunhill Links: Victor Perez more comfortable in the spotlight as he defends title

Victor Perez won the last Dunhill Links in 2019.

Victor Perez is philosophical about his Ryder Cup near-miss – and thinks that the experience will benefit him as he goes for the European Team in 2023.

The Frenchman who is based in Dundee – his partner is a local dentist – probably would have been at Whistling Straits by right if Covid-19 had never happened.

After winning the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the first qualifying event, Perez seemed set fair for a place and was still in the hunt for an automatic place in July. Then a dip in form saw first Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger overtake him.

‘It was very different’

“Usually the qualifying process is just one year,” he said as he returns to defend the Dunhill title at last. “Basically last two years ago when I won, it was the first qualifying event and yet The Ryder Cup was just last week. So if you take this time frame, it was really long.

“It was very different. But obviously I’m very motivated to make the team in Rome and play on home soil.”

He has no issue with the redrawn qualification that left him a little short of being in Wisconsin, though.

“The stats speak for themselves because none of us others did qualify,” he said. “I’m not the one to make excuses. I think at the end of the day, the best players qualify.

‘Golf has a lot to do with momentum’

“I think it was difficult in the sense that I believe golf has a lot to do with momentum and feeding off your good results, kind of riding the wave for as long as you can.

“I was off a good stretch and then Covid happened and it took the wind off our sails in a sense. You have to restart with the focus point being on you because every board says you’re on the team.

“I guess I didn’t manage it the way I could have managed it, but at the same time I’ve learned things in an atmosphere and scenario hopefully we’ll never have to see again.

“I probably learned it the hard way, but at the same time I think it’s great because everything should be easier from now on as far as managing outside of the golf.”

At home in Tayside and Fife

Perez is guarded about he and his partner’s privacy, but he finds that he gets recognised around Tayside and Fife. He uses the St Andrews Links range most days and plays as many of the great courses around this area he can.

“The golfing community around here is obviously massive and people love the golfers, and especially the people that live here,” he said.

“I know whether it’s me, whether it’s Connor (Syme), it’s great to have people recognising you. I’m fortunate to practise here on the back of the range at St Andrews.

“You have got people walking and playing the 17th of the Old Course and waving – I think it’s always cool to give back, and people are obviously cheering you on.”

Victor wants to experience more of the pressure he’s felt since that breakthrough two years ago, because he knows it is inevitable with his ambitions.

“I came up from Challenge Tour and in my first season, I’m playing well and nobody is really looking,” he said.

“I’ve had a very good first year and then went on to the second year and played even better. Then all of a sudden I was in the Ryder Cup conversation. I was playing in majors.

‘You should enjoy being under the spotlight’

“You start to be under that spotlight where you have a little bit more pressure. That’s generally just self-inflicted anyway. As a player you always think it’s a much bigger deal than it really is.

“But you should enjoy to be a little more under the spotlight anyway. That’s how it’s going to be when you come into big events.

“I think you have to get comfortable early on with that. I’ve been in the spotlight a little bit now, and I think it’s fun.

“I think it’s great and hopefully I can have that trophy again in four days.”

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