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Bowls In Focus : August September 2009
A handful of young Victorians left a indelible impression on three of the sunshine state’s marquee events recently with podium finishes in the Bowls Australia grand prix Queensland Open and the Golden Nugget Prestige Singles for senior and junior invitees. This month’s ‘cover guys’ Matt Robertson from Shepparton Golf and Bendigo East’s Brad Holland drew first blood when they collected gold medals in the open pairs at the Bribie Island Bowls Club, while Clayton’s Todd Simmons, Lee Schraner from Brighton and young Clayton whiz Dylan Fisher flew the Victorian flag again when they annexed the triples title. During the following week Schraner became the first Victorian in 20 years to gain a start in the Golden Nugget men’s final at Tweed Heads, while Fisher added more bullion to his collection by dominating the event’s junior equivalent on the mighty Gold Coast club’s indoor green. When the results of the Open began circulating, the inevitable knockers were quick to point out how the 10-player national team was competing offshore, a veiled suggestion that the field might be second-rate. Rubbish! I hope someone pointed out that Robertson and Holland won the pairs final against two of Australia’s most decorated players, Mark Casey and Kelvin Kerkow, who both have a collection of World and Commonwealth Games gold medals to their credit, and are still considered by most experts to be in the upper echelon on the world stage. True, Nathan Rice, Anthony Fantini and Mark Thatcher - who lost out to Simmons, Schraner and Fisher in the triples final - are not household names in the sport, although Rice is the current Queensland single champion and was a medallist at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but these detractors should check out the quality teams they beat on the way through. Nobody makes it into a grand prix final unless they can really play. Steve Glasson. It’s a sentence in itself. And once again, the name said it all when he captured his third Golden Nugget title by defeating Schraner in ideal conditions. The first week of August always marks arguably the most prestigious event in Australia, when the best available singles players converge on the silky Tweed Heads greens in search of the biggest trophy in lawn bowls, the Golden Nugget. This year marked a historical change to the event with state singles winners invited from Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, Queensland, SA and WA. These champions were combined in Section B to fight out an ‘unofficial’ Australian singles title, while Section A was lavished with the crowd drawcards including Kerkow, the defending champion, and Glasson. Victoria had four players in the field, invitees Simmons and Schraner along with state champion, Craig McCarron from Melbourne, in the men’s event, while state champion Robyn Thomassen from Grangeburn competed in the women’s event. It would have been five, but Clayton champion Joyce Junior Golden Nugget champions Dylan Fisher and Queensland’s Shahn Griffith. Golden Nugget runner-up Lee Schraner, only the second Victorian finalist in history. Open triples champions Todd Simmons, Lee Schraner and Dylan Fisher. Lindores, an original invitee, was forced to withdraw when a crippling foot injury required surgery. In a tense and gripping men’s final, Schraner led 9-7 early, but from that point on, it was all Glasson. His drawing skills, masterful conversions and spectacular driving was far too good for any other player in the field. The crowd favourite was on his way to victory. And when Schraner’s last desperate attempt to save the game went by, the familiar wide-brimmed hat of the master went soaring into the sky, as he became only the second male in history to win three Golden Nuggets. Young Fisher, known to his peers as ‘Snapper’, is the first Victorian to win the Junior Golden Nugget singles. In a field that included Australia’s best and brightest Under-18 bowlers, the 15-year-old proved a class above the rest, as he remained undefeated throughout the two-day event. In three sectional games of 21-ends, Fisher finished an incredible 62 shots over par, which included a massive 37-5 round two victory. The final between Fisher and Shaun Mawdsley from NSW would have rivalled any Kerkow, Selby or Glasson clash on the indoor surface, as the pair delivered bowl after bowl inside a dinner plate, with neither relying on weighted shots. After two hours of spectacular play, Fisher finally broke the back of Mawdsley and administered last rites for a 25-17 win. It topped off a stellar fortnight for Victorian bowls. - Gary Shadforth 16 Bowls In Focus