Date: November 25, 2018
Author: Justin Falconer

Belgians withstand Aussie assault at Metro

If only for a moment on Sunday afternoon, it looked like Belgium’s big lead over the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf field was set to vanish at Metropolitan.

But the best duo all week were crowned champions in Melbourne after Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry carded a 4-under 68 in Sunday’s foursomes to secure Belgium’s first World Cup title.

But it was far from stress-free, the Belgians recording three back nine bogeys (against four birdies) as they held off a rampaging Team Australia.

“I told my mum and dad it’s been a long time since I won and this feels as good as an individual title,”  Peters told the media.

“You qualify for it, you play for it, you play with your best mate and it’s kind of a dream come true,” said Detry.

“There’s nothing like representing you country on the other side of the world, it’s just amazing.”

Within the blink of an eye on Sunday afternoon, Belgium’s six-shot overnight lead over the hometown heroes shrunk to just two.

Two pristine birdie putts from Cam Smith on 12 and 13 had the Australians surging and Metropolitan rocking, before some bunker brilliance from the Queenslander brought the house down.

Leishman left his bunker try in the front-right trap at the par-5 14th, before his partner holed-out from the same pot for a third straight birdie.

“It was just a good four, really,” joked Smith.

“I wasn’t expecting to hole it, I just wanted to give Marc a good look at par.

“I haven’t heard a roar like that for a very long time. It was awesome.”

The Belgians made bogey at the par-3 12th and suddenly the Australians were within just two strokes, but Leishman pushed his short birdie try at 16 right, killing the locals’ momentum and ultimately any hopes of hoisting the trophy.

“Walking to the 17th tee I was thinking about it and I probably hadn’t hit a putt between two feet and 10 feet all day,” said Leishman.

“It just was not a great putt. That’s one I’d like to have again.”

A birdie at 14 took Pieters and Detry back to 23-under and extended their lead back to three, a sixth birdie of the day coming at the last to ensure that was the winning margin.

Pieters said the game plan didn’t change heading into the final day but the mindset did, the Belgians still looking to attack Metropolitan and keep the field at arm’s length.

“I said ‘Let’s play like we’re two behind,” said Peters.

“I told him ‘We know we’re going to make a couple of bogeys, but we’ll make a lot of birdies as well because the weather was nicer, the greens were a bit softer as well’.”

The Australian duo shared second on the standings at 20-under with Mexicans Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz, with Denmark and Canada rounding out the top five three strokes further back.

Leishman and Smith both signalled they’d like to reunite as a duo in twelve months time at the Presidents Cup, hopefully bringing with them the huge crowds seen at Metropolitan this week.

“I want to be back down here next year playing the Presidents Cup and doing the same stuff, I would love it,” said Smith.

“Those crowds out there, I’ve never played in front of crowds like that in Australia,” said Leishman.

“Having 98 per cent of the crowd going for you is a pretty cool feeling.”