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Bowls In Focus : August September 2011
10 Bowls In Focus It was perhaps fitting that Kelvin Kerkow and Jo Edwards, two of the greatest players of the modern era, should prevail in last month’s 25th anniversary Golden Nugget Invitation Prestige Singles at Tweed Heads. Local hero Kerkow, who is still regarded by many good judges as the best singles player in Australia, took all before him in the finals to secure an unprecedented fourth Golden Nugget, while Edwards claimed her second title in fine style. In the semi finals Kerkow was in career-best touch against new international cap Sean Baker, while in the main event he lifted a gear to outgun Leif Selby, the man who succeeded him as Australia’s singles representative on the world stage. Ironically, Kerkow only made it into the final four by 0.01%, but as anyone who knows bowls will attest, when Kelvin gets a whiff of victory in a big event he is almost unstoppable. The 2006 Commonwealth Games singles gold medalist, Kerkow arrived at Tweed Heads on the morning of day one in great form, having defeated great mate and long-time rival Steve Glasson 31-18 in the Wintersun Singles Classic final at Ballina the previous day. New Zealand superstar Jo Edwards added this year’s trophy to her 2009 victory when she overcame perky Tasmanian Rebecca Quail in a top class women’s final in front of a capacity audience at Tweed Heads. Ironically, during the previous day’s fifth and final round Edwards trailed Aussie great Karen Murphy 14-22 and appeared certain to miss qualifying altogether. However, in a complete form turnaround she raised the bar to draw level and eventually pass Murphy to win the section, then took that form onto the green the following morning where she eclipsed Victorian teeenager Lisa Phillips in a semi final. Although the match was tight at the outset, Edwards, who has an impressive collection of World and Commonwealth Games gold medals, took charge at the 14th end when she coveted a slender 11-7 lead. Over the ensuing eight revolutions the rangy Kiwi amassed 14 shots to the petite Victorian’s lone single to run out a convincing winner. But young Phillips, who is too often the brunt of negative gossip, has much to be proud of for the manner in which she competed in her first Golden Nugget. There is little doubt that at some stage in the future she will become Victoria’s first-ever winner of the women’s event. Despite the obvious lack of practice on rapid running greens - and being out of season - disadvantage which all Victorians invited to compete must endure, the home flag flew proudly over the mecca of Australian bowls at the end of day one. Of the four Victorians in the 24-player field of flat-green megastars, three came through the afternoon’s opening round in fine style, while the other covered himself with glory. Teenage sensations Lisa Phillips from Richmond Union and Melbourne’s Dylan Fisher astounded the cynics when both claimed emphatic victories over top class opponents. Phillips played like a seasoned veteran to claim victory over reigning World Bowls women’s singles gold medalist Val Smith from New Zealand; while Fisher and recently-capped international Sean Baker from Broadbeach engaged in a magnificent contest with the brilliant young Demon pulling away in the final stages to record a great first-up win. Another outstanding Victorian performance came from former world and Commonwealth Games champion Joyce Lindores from Clayton, who put on a vintage display to defeat Delhi silver medalist Julie Keegan in a gripping contest. The last time this pair met on a bowling green was in the 2009 Australian Open singles final at Shepparton, where the former Scottish superstar also prevailed. Wodonga’s Ashley Bates, who won his place in the field in a qualifying event a few weeks earlier, looked set for an early shower in his match against irrepressible international • Above: Newly crowned champions Jo Edwards and Kelvin Kerkow • Below: Victorians Ashley Bates, Lisa Phillips, Joyce Lindores and Dylan Fisher at the Golden Nugget. International Tournament Superstars Swoop On Anniversary Nugget
June July 2011