Having flown to Australia in the hope of dovetailing their way to World Cup victory, Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne struggled to find their symbiotic symmetry in a tough finish at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne.
With Dunne’s driving game coming in for scrutiny prior to the event, coupled with Lowry’s ice cold putter, the pair had hoped a perfect partnership would elevate their games into contention.
However the always revealing foursomes format proved to be their undoing over days two and four after the pair had excelled themselves in fourballs with a 64 and 66 over days one and two.
Where the pair’s better ball play was off the charts, their alternate shot efforts ultimately lost them the tournament. A 76 on day two in tough conditions was detrimental to their chances but they did manage to get it going on the final day.
Having bogeyed the first, Lowry & Dunne seemed to adopt a laissez faire attitude to the turn, firing five birdies on the way to a superb 32.
With victory seemingly always out of reach, a long season saw the pair lose steam as they turned for home, with two bogeys and a triple contributing to a back nine collapse as their adrenaline evaporated into the Australian sunshine.
Still, a 12-under-par tournament total secured the pair a valiant share of tenth spot, with Lowry going one place worse than he managed alongside Graeme McDowell two years ago.
At the top, 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.
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.