Two Thomases—Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry—went to Melbourne with a lot of hope but winning it all would not have crossed their mind before the beginning of the second day of the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf (November 22-25) at The Metropolitan Golf Club, Melbourne when they held the top spot. After all, Belgium’s previous best at the World Cup of Golf was T-4 back in 1955!
With the win, the pair earned a whopping $2.24 million (meaning a handsome $1.12mn for each) and a maiden team crown for their country. Flory Van Donck, a two-time British Open runner-up and regarded widely as Belgium’s finest golfer, captured the individual title in 1960.
A small country in western Europe, cycling is Belgium’s favorite sport and Belgians have impressed in other fields too—most recently finishing third at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters were once World No. 1 in women’s tennis, and the latter was atop the rankings in doubles too.
Belgium, as it turns out, has close to 85 golf clubs and over 65,000 registered golfers. And while the country can be, and ought to be, proud of this achievement, a humble Pieters simply chose to hope it would help the sport, “… This will go very under the radar. Hopefully, it will make the news and kids will think of us as cool guys and that golf is a cool sport. But it will not be as loud as the soccer World Cup.”
India finishes T-10
Represented by seasoned professionals Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar, India stood T-10. The pair collectively pocketed $102,333.33 (approx. Rs 7.8 crore) in prize money.
Over the course of their visit Down Under, 30-year-old Bhullar and 31-year-old Lahiri took time to cheer on the visiting Indian cricket team at Melbourne Cricket Ground (a Twenty20 fixture against Australia) following Friday’s round. Lahiri was also seen engrossed in discussion with cricket legend Shane Warne while Bhullar explained the art of bowling to media guests.
The duo had previously represented the country in 2013 when Lahiri finished T-25 and Bhullar 60th in the individual competition. India’s best result was in 2005 World Cup, then the team of Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa finished ninth.
“Experience was quite good. We both clicked really well off the course reason being we know each other so well.
We had a great start to the tournament but we couldn’t play that well on the weekend. Also, the conditions were quite tough this week. But overall it was a great experience,” said a jovial Bhullar happy with the team’s performance.