Belgium held off a late challenge from hosts Australia to win the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf for the first time at The Metropolitan Golf Club.
Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters brought a five-shot advantage into the final foursomes but Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith cut that to just two as the huge crowds at the Sandbelt venue began to get excited about a second Australian win in five years.
The Belgians held their nerve over the final three holes, however, to sign for a 68 and finish the week at 23 under, three shots ahead of Australia and Mexican pair Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz.
Standing on the 18th tee with a two shot lead, Detry produced one of his shots of the week as he thundered a drive down the middle of the fairway to leave his partner a short wedge to the hole. Pieters then turned on the style, planting his approach three feet from the pin to allow Detry to tap-in for birdie and seal an historic victory.
Defending champions Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen closed with a 65 to finish at 17 under as a duo of European Tour Members lifted the World Cup for the eighth time in the last ten editions of the event.
Thomas Detry: “We weren’t far away in the football World Cup, so it’s pretty good to bring it back! Like Thomas said, it’s not really something you put on the list, but when it happens, you qualify for it, you play for it, you play with your best mate and it’s kind of a dream come true. There’s nothing like representing your country on the other side of the world, it’s just amazing.
“Our two coaches, one of my two coaches, they both played it a long time ago, but they played it and they had an amazing experience. Being able to put our name down the list when you see the amount of good players and all the big names that were actually on the cup, it feels pretty special.
“I think the key moment today was when Thomas made the putt the tenth for par and the birdie he made on 11, those two putts were massive. I think that was the key moment because 11 is one of the toughest holes on the course. Ten, it was a sliding putt, not easy, so we could have easily gone bogey, bogey and we went par, birdie. After that we slapped a few bogeys in, but we always came back with a birdie, so I think the key moment was definitely ten and 11.
“We’ve known each other since we were 8 or 9 years old. We used to play those junior events back home. We kind of grew up together playing regionals, practices together, and then national teams together, under-18, and then he went to college in America and I followed him.
“So we’ve known each other for a long time and like I said earlier, it’s a dream come true to play with him. He’s got a lot of experience, it was very comforting for me to play with a guy like that.”
Thomas Pieters: “It feels pretty good. It’s not something you put on your list when you’re a golfer, but, you know, I felt it this morning and I felt it while we were playing, it’s just excitement and a bit of nerves. You know, I told my mom and dad it’s been a long time since I won and this feels as good as an individual title. I’m very, very happy.
“With us bringing this thing back home, I think it will change a bit how kids look at golf and they’ll have something to look up to. We had Nico Colsaerts to look up to. We never really got in touch with him when we were younger and I think we would have loved it. He maybe because he had the same coach, but for me it would have been amazing to see him play. In a couple weeks we’re doing a day with all the juniors back home and for me it’s fun to do that because I know how much I would have loved it, so that’s why we do it.”