A final day charge from Team Australia delighted the home crowd but Team Belgium remained calm under pressure to secure their nation’s first ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf title.
Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith combined to fire 7-under 65 playing the foursomes format in the final round to finish tied second alongside Team Mexico, Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz, on 20-under the card.
“It was a really good week. I think we played pretty good golf. We fought it out on Friday. You know, to come back from I think we were, 6-over at one point, 7-over maybe? I can’t remember. To fight back like that and keep ourselves in it,” said Leishman.
“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 beaten by someone who’s playing that well, there’s not much you can do.
“Happy with the way the week went. Obviously, we would like to have been one better, but you can’t win them all and I think we did ourselves proud.”
A run of three consecutive birdies on the back-9, highlighted by Smith’s hole-out birdie from the greenside bunker on the 14th, had the home crowd roaring in scenes the Aussie pair hopes will be replicated at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the International Team during The President’s Cup.
“Obviously I wasn’t expecting to hole it, I just wanted to give Marc a good look at par, and for that to go in, yeah, that was pretty cool. I haven’t heard a roar like that for a very long time. It was awesome,” said Smith.
With Leishman adding, “Those crowds out there, I mean, I’ve never played in front of crowds like that in Australia. Having 98 per cent of the crowd going for you is a pretty cool feeling. I think going forward I think it could be a pretty good Presidents Cup pairing for Melbourne next year.
“When you’re playing well it’s pretty easy to be upbeat and all that. I think the way we handled Friday would be probably more impressive to Ernie (Els) than today. When things weren’t going well, we were still smiling, I guess as much as you could on that day. You know, still, have that positive outlook.”
While they were teammates this week, Leishman and Smith become competitors again next week as they turn their attention to the Australian PGA Championship, the final event on the 2018 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“I think we’re both playing really good golf. Obviously, Cam’s putter’s very hot. I’m feeling good over all my clubs,” added Leishman.
“Watching Cam, he should be feeling good as well. Obviously we’re opponents next week, but obviously still friends. Being the competitive people we are, we both want to win. Hopefully, I can play good and outdo him. Outdo everyone, not just him.”
Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry were elated champions as they become the first Belgium team to engrave their names on the World Cup of Golf alongside some of the best golfers of all time including Seve Ballesteros, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Australia’s own PGA Immortal, the late Peter Thomson.
“It feels very good. I felt it this morning and I felt it while we were playing, it’s just excitement and a bit nervous,” said Pieters.
“I told my mum and dad it’s been a long time since I won and this feels as good as an individual title. I’m very, very happy.”
While Detry added, “We weren’t far away in the soccer World Cup, so it’s pretty good to bring it back.
“When it happens, you qualify for it, you play for it, you play with your best mate and it’s kind of a dream come true. There’s nothing like representing your country on the other side of the world, it’s just amazing.
“Being able to put our name down the list when you see the number of good players and all the big names that were actually on the cup, it feels pretty special,” said Detry.
Finishing in a tie for fourth were the defending champions from Denmark Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen and the Canadian team of Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor.
Team New Zealand, represented by Ryan Fox and Mark Brown finished tied 18th on 8-under the card.
The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia now travels to the Gold Coast for the Australian PGA Championship to be played at RACV Royal Pines Resort.