Pieters, Detry carry Belgium to first ISPS Handa World Cup title
November 25, 2018
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
Team Belgium final round highlights at ISPS Handa
MELBOURNE, Australia – Notes and observations from the fourth round of the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf where Belgium won their first World Cup title by three shots.
Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry admitted they could feel the groundswell of support for the host nation Australia as it got to gut-check time in the World Cup.
Starting the day with a significant five-shot lead, Team Belgium knew it would take something special to beat the Aussies at Metropolitan Golf Club.
As the locals swarmed around Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith and became more and more vocal in the group ahead, the pair knew a challenge was being issued.
But with nerves of steel, the 26-year-old Pieters and 25-year-old Detry met every test and then capped off the win with a final-hole birdie to win by three shots.
The final round, 4-under 68 was more than enough to stay ahead of Australia (65) and Mexico (66) – leaving them at 23 under for the week.
“You can hear the "oi oi oi" chants going, so you know somebody made a birdie,” Pieters said.
“We felt the guys coming right behind us and we answered it with a birdie, so I think we handled the situation very well.”
It is the first win for Belgium in the World Cup. Belgium hadn’t had a result better than fourth since 1955.
“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.
Pieters burst onto the European Tour scene a few years ago, winning three times in a 12-month span in 2015-16.
But he hasn’t been able to maintain the same form since, making this victory extra special.
“It feels very good. It's been a long time since I won and this feels as good as an individual title. I'm very, very happy,” Pieters said.
“We'll take a lot of confidence out of this. It's a shame the season's over for me now.”
Detry is yet to win on the European Tour but he’s been knocking on the door with a handful of recent close calls.
Pieters now thinks this will change.
“His drive down the 18th … that's a drive of somebody that's going to win next year, for sure,” Pieters said of his partner.
“To hit a drive like that, I can tell how much adrenaline was going through his body by how far it went. He’s going to take this forward for sure.”
Team Belgium news conference after winning ISPS Handa World Cup
AUSTRALIA: Host nation Australia had the local crowds rocking down the back nine at Metropolitan after Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith caught fire and threatened to steal the Cup.
But a short putt from 4 feet for birdie on the par-4 16th was pushed wide by Leishman, stalling the huge charge the locals had made.
Starting the final round a distant six shots back of Belgium, the Aussies made the turn after four birdies thinking they could certainly make the leaders sweat with a few more.
Smith buried birdie putts on the 12th and 13th holes and then, just as hopes looked dashed after Leishman left a bunker shot in the sand, he holed out for another birdie.
But it was the last birdie they’d bank.
The short miss on 16 sucked the life out of the charge and they would ultimately sign for a 7-under 65 to finish at 20 under.
“Obviously that putt on 16 I would like to have made,” Leishman said. “I would love to have that again.
“But Belgium was clearly the best team all week. 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.”
MEXICO: It was an impressive couple of weeks in Australia for Abraham Ancer, who won the Australian Open before combining with Roberto Diaz to finish in a tie for second at the World Cup.
A final round 6-under 66 on Sunday was highlighted by late birdies on 14, 16 and 17 giving them an outside shot at victory if they could make something happen on the last hole.
But Belgium stayed rock solid.
The runner-up result represented Mexico’s highest finish in the tournament, besting the seventh-place effort in 1953 from Al Escalante and Juan Neri.
USA: Matt Kuchar and Kyle Stanley never really threatened to bring the USA a 25th World Cup title, shooting 66-79-66-68 to finish at 9 under and a tie for 16th.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Cameron Smith's bunker hole-out is the Shot of the Day
I haven't heard a roar like that for a very long time. It was awesome.
There's nothing like representing your country on the other side of the world, it's just amazing.
It's kind of a funny week, the weather was different, total different all the time.
A little disadvantage having different balls … that's why I struggled with the short game a little bit this week.