Team Belgium takes control at World Cup of Golf
November 24, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Team Belgium takes commanding lead at ISPS Handa
MELBOURNE, Australia. – Notes and observations from the third round of the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf where teams played the Fourball format and team Belgium set up a handy five shot lead.
Thomas Pieters brings plenty of fire. It appears Thomas Detry brings the ice.
The youthful team from Belgium have combined expertly to take the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf by the scruff of the neck.
A 9-under 63 on Saturday has pushed the pair to 19-under and a five-shot advantage heading to Sunday’s final Foursomes session.
Pieters, 26, has three European Tour victories to his name and plays with an aggressive tone.
Detry, 25, has what appears to be a more measured approach to his golf, much in the vein of your Justin Rose type characters.
The steadiness of Detry has allowed Pieters to wind up when it matters and it has worked a treat.
“It's always nice when you know your partner's playing some great golf, it gives you a lot of confidence and you can play some pretty free golf,” Detry explained.
“I tend to be pretty relaxed … and I guess not much went wrong, but he seems to be a very enjoyable partner.”
The first hole on Saturday was a perfect example. Pieters hit a wild tee shot trying to bite off some extra distance and basically left it to his teammate from there.
Detry was unflappable and made an important par on his own.
“At the beginning of the week, I said we never say sorry when you play as a team,” Pieters said.
“We're both trying our hardest and everybody's going to hit bad golf shots.”
Tomorrow is a different beast. The Foursomes, or alternate shot, means the fire and ice really have to mix well.
On Friday they were one of only four teams to shoot under par in the format.
And it is the volatility that has the chasing pack still feeling like they’ve got life.
But the leaders don’t intend to play defense.
“The strategy, we are going to play out there and be aggressive,” Detry said.
“We might as well win by 12.”
AUSTRALIA: Local hopes of a sixth World Cup title are still alive after Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith combined to shoot a 7-under 65 on Saturday to move to 13 under and into a tie for fifth.
But they will need something impressive in Sunday’s Foursomes as they sit an ominous six shots back of the lead.
Given they shot a 4-over 76 in Friday’s alternate shot session it will take some turnaround to mount some pressure on Belgium.
“It's going to be really important for us to get off to a good start, really get ourselves in it, give them something to think about, because if we're not a few under through five or six holes, they can sort of cruise,” Leishman said.
“It would be good if we could get the crowd into it. If we get the fanatics roaring, and friends and family, a lot of people supporting us, that would be great and they might notice. We've enjoyed that so far this week and it would be nice if we could make tomorrow our best day.”
The Australian pair are also cognizant of International Presidents Cup team captain Ernie Els impending arrival and want to leave a lasting impression ahead of the 2019 biennial competition that will also be held in Melbourne.
MEXICO: Abraham Ancer’s love affair with Australia continues after he and partner Roberto Diaz posted a 7-under 65 to move to 14 under and a tie for second place.
Ancer, who won last week’s Australian Open in Sydney, is looking to create a new wave of excitement in golf for his home nation.
Mexico has never won the World Cup of Golf and their best finish was a T7 way back in 1953.
“A win would be awesome not only for us, but for our country as well,” Ancer says.
“It would be something incredible and it would be obviously a dream come true winning such a big tournament for our country.”
KOREA: Former PLAYERS Champion Si Woo Kim buried a final hole birdie to ensure Korea moved into a share of second place with a round to play.
Along with Byeong An the pair are looking to bring the country its first World Cup title.
They acknowledge the five-shot deficit will be tough to overcome but given the Foursomes format can be volatile have certainly not given up hope.
“You never know what's going to happen,” An said.
“We definitely need our best golf and it's not going to be easy but lifting the trophy definitely will be a bonus in the career, that's for sure.”
An confirmed a win would be not be enough to earn them exemptions from mandatory military service in Korea.
“This wouldn’t count. But the title and money would still be nice,” he grinned.
USA: It has not been the week Matt Kuchar and Kyle Stanley were looking for after a 6-under 66 was still not enough to give them any hope of procuring a 25th title for the USA.
They sit well back at five under overall in a tie for 21st amongst the 28 teams.
ENGLAND: Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton shot a 5-under 67 to move to 13 under and into a tie for fifth.
Sitting six shots back it will take a big effort to claim their first World Cup since 2004 and third overall.
ITALY: A 6-under 66 from Andrea Pavan and Renato Paratore moved the Italians to second place but they were far from happy with their efforts.
Sitting seven under on the round through 13 holes they came to the par-5 14th looking to put further pressure on Belgium near the top of the leaderboard.
But instead they inexplicably walked away with a double bogey as both players lost their way.
Birdies on the 16th and 17th holes reestablished their place as the nearest chasers until another bogey on the final hole left them five back.
“Belgium are playing well obviously, so I feel like it's going to be tough, but in golf you never know, especially in foursomes,” Pavan said.
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