Golf: 'Dream come true' as Belgium stave off challenge from Mexico and hosts Australia to win World Cup

Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters of Belgium posing with the trophy and their national flag after winning the World Cup of Golf, in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov 25, 2018.
Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters of Belgium posing with the trophy and their national flag after winning the World Cup of Golf, in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry held off Mexico and a charging Australia to win Belgium's first men's golf World Cup by three shots in a "dream come true" on Sunday (Nov 25).

The pair began the final day of foursomes action, where teammates take it in turns to play the same ball, with a five-stroke lead at Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Club.

But Australia's Mark Leishman and Cameron Smith narrowed the gap to two coming down the home straight with three birdies in a row, and Mexico's Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz were also closing in.

In a tense finale, the Belgians restored a three-stroke lead with a birdie on the 16th but a nervy bogey on the next meant they had to keep their cool on the final hole.

A perfect approach shot eased the pressure and they holed out for a closing 68 and a 23-under 265 win, with Australia and Mexico joint second.

Danish defending champions Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen carded a 65 to tie for fourth alongside Canada's Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor, six behind Belgium. Greece finished last among the 28 teams on 19-over 307.

"It's a dream come true to play it, let alone win it," said Detry, 25, after pocketing the biggest cheque of his short two-year professional career.

"It was a huge thrill to play with Thomas (Pieters). We were on a college team (University of Illinois) together as amateurs in the US and we are great friends."

The win earned the pair US$1.12 million (S$1.54 million) each and a maiden World Cup crown for their country, although Ryder Cup player Flory van Donck captured the individual title in 1960.

The more established Pieters, a three-time European Tour winner and Ryder Cup player, said that winning the World Cup was not something players normally have on their bucket list.

"But when it happens it feels every bit as good as winning an individual event," said the 26-year-old.

"We'll both gain a lot of confidence out of this. We felt Australia coming behind us and we answered." .

Best team all week

Australia's Leishman said that despite not winning, he and Smith were happy to make a fight of it and congratulated Belgium for being "the best team all week".

"They (Belgium) didn't really give us a chance. We took it to them and played good and made it interesting," he said.

"It's a pity that we weren't a couple of shots better, but we put up a good fight."

Australia, who set out six behind the Belgians, cut the margin to two after Smith holed out from a greenside trap for a birdie at the 14th.

The Belgium duo, playing two groups behind, could not ignore the mighty cheer that went up from the gallery.

Pieters and Thomas had been ice cool for most of the front nine and made the turn in 33, helped by an eagle three at the fourth.

But they got the wobbles on the back nine, dropping a shot at the par-three 12th when Pieters' tee shot put his partner in a greenside trap.

The Belgians were able to stretch their lead out to three again at 14 and when Leishman missed a birdie chance at 16, the Aussie challenge looked over.

But then the Belgians shot themselves in the foot with Detry missing a three-footer for par at No. 15.

They breathed a little easier when he calmly holed a five-footer for birdie at the 16th, before Pieters pushed his tee shot right at No. 17 and they made bogey.

The Belgians walked to the last with Australia already in the clubhouse and Detry put the issue beyond doubt with a monstrous tee shot setting up a final-hole birdie and a three-shot win.