Tour News

Belgium wins World Cup despite brave Australian bid

(Photo: Bruce Young)
Belgium are the 2018 ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf Champions winning by three shots over Australia and Mexico after a final round which saw both runners-up give it their all in the chase for the title.

Australia's final round of 65 was the second of the weekend for the home side and saw them bounce back from a second round of 76 to ensure that the winners would not have things all their own way.

A five-shot lead can be a tricky margin heading into the final day in tournament golf. It is one that leaves some wondering if a front-runner should continue the aggressive play that put them in front or defend in the hope that no-one can chase them down.

Today, heading into the final round at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, the Belgium side of Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters faced that same decision.

A bogey at the 2nd hole gave little evidence of just what that decision was but when the Detry holed from 20 feet at the 4th after a delightful approach from Pieters the answer became clearer.

They had moved to 20 under and while the chasers had made up some ground it was an important moment in their quest to take the title.

Two further birdies before the turn had the leaders at 22 under and seemingly in control and when they added another birdie at the demanding 11th hole they were four clear of Australians Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman who were nonetheless making a spirited bid to snatch the title in front of a large crowd of adoring fans.

The margin was reduced however when the Belgians missed the green at the 12th and took bogey and there was then just three shots between the them as the Australians played the par-5 14th.

Smith hit a poor second shot into a green side bunker and when Leishman was unable to successfully negotiate the bunker shot and left it in, it appeared as Australia's remote hopes of victory were dashed. Enter Cameron Smith.

Smith holed the bunker shot and instead of being three or four behind the margin was just two and it was game on.

Cameron Smith - along with Leishman - staged a brave final round challenge

Canada and Mexico were another three shots back and so the fight for the title appeared very much between the hosts Australia and the Belgians.

Crucial moments were still to come however. Leishman found the bunker at the 15th and while Smith produced a good recovery Leishman was faced with a testing 10 foot curling putt to save par. He made it. 

Behind, the Belgians extended the margin to three again when they birdied the 14th but Smith gave the Australians further hope when his pitch to the 16th finished five feet from the hole. Leishman surprisingly pushed his birdie attempt, the putt that would get he and Smith within two and the Belgians could breathe again.

At the 15th however Pieters and Detry dropped a shot and the margin was again just two with another two shots back to Mexico. 

Mexico's Abraham Ancer - last week's Australian Open champion - completed a fine trip to Australia with a third place finish partnering Roberto Diaz.

Belgium though would prove up to the task with birdies at the 16th and 18th and although they would produce their 5th bogey of the day at the 17th they had done more than enough to enjoy the moment and their country's first win in the history of the teams event.

"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,” Detry said.

“I think we'll take a lot of confidence out of this,” Pieters said. “Like I said, it's a shame the season's over for me now. I felt like I played really good today and both of us we played really good.

"Sometimes we felt the guys coming, Australia coming right behind us and we answered it with a birdie, so I think we handled the situation very well.”

Mexico birdied three of their last five holes to join Australia in second place completing a great week for golf in that country following Abraham Ancer's Australia Open victory in Sydney last weekend. 

Denmark and Canada tied for 4th at 17 under but they were three shots from second place and six shots from Belgium.

To the winner's go the spoils. Pieters and Detry earn US$1,120,000 each for their efforts and take a significant place in the sporting history of their country. 

The Australians and the Mexicans earn US$480,000 per player for their share of second place.

Leishman was philosophical about the loss.

“Belgium was clearly the best team all week,” Leishman said. “When you come up against someone like that, we did what we had to do today to put the pressure on and they were just too good. When you get beat by someone who's playing that well, there's not much you can do.”

Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.

iSeekGolf is Australia’s largest golf tee times website.
To book a tee time at an iSeekGolf venue, visit iseekgolf.com/teetimes


More Articles from Bruce Young