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Sunday, 25 November 2018
Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters  (Getty Images)
Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters (Getty Images)

Belgium held off a late challenge from hosts Australia to win the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf for the first time at The Metropolitan Golf Club.

Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters brought a five-shot advantage into the final foursomes but Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith cut that to just two as the huge crowds on the Sandbelt began to get excited about a second Australian win in five years.

The Belgians held their nerve over the final three holes, however, to sign for a 68 and finish the week at 23 under, three shots ahead of Australia and Mexican pair Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz.

Defending champions Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen closed with a 65 to finish at 17 under as a duo of European Tour Members lifted the World Cup for the eighth time in the last ten stagings.

"It feels amazing, World Champions," said Detry. "It was always nice to have that big brother talking to you and calming you down. It's like you're playing a game against your buddy at home, I learned a lot thanks to him.

"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."

Pieters added: "I'm super proud of him. That drive on 18 was unbelievable. I could see he was a bit nervous, I was nervous as well. To finish with a birdie tops it off. These putts on the back nine aren't easy, I know, and he made plenty of them.

"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."

Leishman hit an excellent tee-shot into the second to help Australia join the group in second and there was a two-shot swing when the final group came through the same hole.

Ancer and Detry both hit nice tee-shots into the par-three but while Diaz made his downhill left-to-right birdie putt for Mexico, the Belgians three-putted and the lead was down to three.

Leishman hit a nice third into the par-five fourth and with Smith finishing the job from inside six feet, the hosts were just three shots back.

The Belgians were not in the mood to be caught, however, and Detry rolled home a 20-footer on the fourth for an eagle and they were five ahead once more.

Smith holed a left-to-righter down the hill to get within four but Belgium got up and down from the side of the seventh green with Detry holing from three feet.

The Australians quickly trimmed the lead back again after getting on the green at the par-five ninth in two but Belgium repeated the trick to lead by five at the turn.

Another excellent Leishman tee-shot set up a birdie on the 12th before Detry hit a stunner from the rough to set up a birdie on the 11th and Smith kept Australia in touch from 12 feet on the 13th.

Detry then found sand off the 12th tee and a failure to get up and down from the Belgians meant the lead was down to three heading into the closing stretch.

Australia looked set to release the pressure when Leishman left their third in a bunker at the par-five 14th but Smith holed a spectacular shot from the sand and for the first time all day, the gap was just two shots.

Belgium hit the green in two on the same hole to make a more orthodox birdie and edge back three ahead but Detry missed a short one on the 15th to see the lead cut once more.

The 25 year old clearly took out all his frustration from that on his drive on the next, leaving Pieters a flick in to set up a birdie and a three-shot advantage. A bogey followed on the next but a huge Detry drive left Pieters with another wedge in and a closing birdie followed.

Mexico dropped a shot on the fifth but bounced back with a hat-trick of gains and made further birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th.

Olesen and Kjeldsen made a birdie-birdie start and after a bogey on the third made further gains on the fourth, seventh, ninth, tenth, 16th and 17th.

Canada also finished at 17 under, a shot clear of South Korea and Italy, with England at 15 under and Sweden a further shot back.

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