AO 2017 Wrap Up
We take a look at the highlights from the 13th annual Australian Open which showed once again why it is ‘The Greatest Bowls Show on Earth’.
If there were a best-performed state at this year’s Open, surely Queensland would win, finishing with an impressive record of six out of eight Bowlers with a Disability (BWD) titles, four Open titles, and silver medals in five other events.
The 13th annual Australian Open was hosted by 13 QLD clubs who accommodated more than 2000 competitors from keen beginners to elite internationals at the $250,000 extravaganza on QLD’s Gold Coast from June 10-23
Despite disruption by cyclonic weather for the first time since the tournament moved to the Sunshine State three years ago but it was still ‘The Greatest Bowls Show on Earth’.
One of this year’s most exciting finishes saw Broadbeach’s Chloe Stewart and her team of Tiffany Brodie (Clayton, VIC), Amelia Bruggy (Kingsborough, TAS) and Georgia White (Club Helensvale, QLD) re-claim their Women’s Fours title from 2016 against Cabramatta star Karen Murphy’s rink of Ellen Ryan (Cabramatta, NSW), Kay Moran (Cabramatta, NSW) and Julie Keegan (Broadbeach, QLD).
In a fairytale ending for the defending champs, the match went into a see-saw extra end which saw both teams trade shots, in the end, the game was decided by a single shot, with Stewart’s last shot removing Murphy’s best chance to clinch the title for QLD’s favourite Fours team, 14-13.
In the Men’s Fours the dynamic Scottish raiders Alex Marshall, Paul Foster, Darren Burnett and Ryan Burnett were able to defeat the local favourites Robbie Wild, Jade Groenewege, Sam Laguzza and skip Sean Baker 13-9.
Over 60s Pairs
After a dry spell in last year’s Over 60s Pairs, it proved to be one of Queensland’s strongest disciplines in 2017 with seniors taking both titles and seven out of eight finals places.
Former Australian rep Di Cunnington, 80, from Tweed Heads created a sensation when she stepped back up to the winner’s podium at this year’s Australian Open, after being out of action for nearly a year with a broken arm.
It was great to see the QLD legend back on the green with Gail Crompton from Bargara, part of QLD’s winning Australian Senior Sides team last year, the first time pairing had a comfortable 19-11 win over the 2017 Over 60s State Pairs winners Adele Pershouse (Bargara) and Mary Geary (Mooloolaba).
The Over 60s Men’s Pairs saw another legend of the sport Rob Parrella (Musgrave Hill) team up with Burleigh Heads Paul Staggard Snr against the last minute pairing of Pine Rivers Peter Leon and Victorian Ian Warner.
Leon was a late entry into the AO when Warner’s original partner withdrew and what a successful replacement it was, the two getting to know each other as they finessed a legend of the sport and came up trumps, winning by one shot 19-18 and taking home $5000.
It was a case of deja vu with both of last year’s finalists set to go head-to-head once again in a title decider, this year however, Ellen Ryan the freshly crowned Singles champion and Broadbeach’s Julie Keegan were determined not to let defending pairs champs Anne Johns and Bec Van Asch taste victory again.
Ryan and Keegan were quick to make their mark on the game and ruthless in their campaign, posting an almost unassailable lead at the mid-way point of the match to put themselves one step closer to the $10,000 payout.
Johns and Van Asch made an attempt to ramp up the pressure on Keegan but the former Australian rep and World Fours champion was up to the task, keeping one hand firmly on the trophy forcing Johns and Van Asch to concede after the 17th end, with a score of 17-8.
In the men’s pairs, best mates Josh Thornton and Barrie Lester from Victoria made history with a 19-12 win in the Men’s Pairs Final against South Australia’s Wayne Ruediger and Scott Thulborn.
Going into the Open as Australia’s number one ranked bowler, Lester had never won an AO title but had been runner-up six times, he finally entered the winner’s circle alongside Thornton and it was an emotional moment, not to mention a rich one with a $10,000 prize for their efforts.
Queensland’s youngest state team member Jessica Srisamruaybai, 17, showed why she is Australia’s leading U18 female bowler, going one better than last year to win her maiden AO title in the U18 Girls singles with an emphatic win over Victoria’s Mikayla Long, 21-6
While the boys U18s title went to Commonwealth Youth Games dual gold medallist Jono Davis, 16, from Dubbo was back at the AO to defend his title, winning in decisive fashion against QLD U18 Boys Singles state champ Indi Conlan from Enoggera, in a 21-7 encounter.
There were six singles and two pairs’ titles up for grabs at this year’s AO for bowlers with a disability (BWD) and QLD bowlers took out the lion’s share winning six out of eight.
In the Multi-Disability Pairs, the toast of the Far North Bernie Wolland (Mossman Memorial) was there to win the title in a thriller 15-14 against seasoned campaigner Nathan Appleton from North Toowoomba.
The vision impaired pairs proved to be another exciting battle and a proud moment for QLD as all finalists were Maroons!
International blind bowls reps Chris Backstrom (New Farm) and Jake Fehlberg (Burleigh Heads) defeated Brandon Smith (South Johnstone) and Lynne Seymour (Thuringowa), 21-18.
(Directors, Ian Gardner, Grant Fehlberg, Maisie Smith and Bob Seymour).
In the VI singles, Jake Fehlberg was back to romp through the sectionals undefeated to book a finals berth against NSW’s Russell Hadley, also undefeated.
Fehlberg never took his pedal off the metal, the father and son duo in perfect communication to win a second title 21-7.
Lynne Seymour and Chermside’s Joy Forster went head-to-head in the Women’s VI Singles, it was a hard one to call as both players had returned from South Africa’s recent 11th IBBA World Blind Champs as gold medallists.
In the end, Lynne had the better bowls, winning the national title and $1000 payday by four shots, 21-17.
The hearing impaired singles proved to be another all-QLD final with Corinda’s Dianne Reddick was fast out of the blocks to earn herself a national title and $1000 payday over silver medallist Janet Hogan from Boyne-Tannum, 21-12.
Dalby-born bowler Nathan Appleton was back once again in the intellectual disability singles final, this time against McKenzie Park newcomer Krystie Ebert who played well in the sectionals and semis but was outclassed by the master in the final, 21-2.
Out of the eight BWD titles up for grabs, only the Men’s and Women’s Physical Disability Singles fell into the hands of visitors.
In the Men’s final, the amazing Jimmy Reynolds from NSW (2014 Australian Commonwealth Games Para-Sport representative) proved too strong for Victoria’s Josh Barry, 21-8.
The Women’s title went across the Ditch to New Zealander Lynda Bennett when she proved too consistent in the final against Michelle Campbell from NSW, 21-8.
The final of the AO’s most popular event came down to a battle between two Nathans both hungry for their maiden Singles title, with Club Helensvale’s Nathan Rice, 38, and South Australia’s Nathan Pedersen, 22, entering the final as the last men standing.
The hometown favourite opened fearlessly but the scoring was laboured, the game drawn 10-10 on 13 from there Pedersen doubled the hit rate and sat at 20-15, waiting for his chance.
He was three shots down when he managed to slot the jack into the ditch to conjure up the single he needed to win, 21-15 to grab the $13,000 first prize and the national selectors’ attention.
MEN’S SINGLES Nathan Pedersen (SA)def Nathan Rice (QLD)21-15
WOMEN’S SINGLESEllen Ryan (NSW)def Georgia White (QLD) 21-11
MEN’S PAIRS Josh Thornton (VIC) & Barrie Lester (VIC)def Wayne Reudiger (SA) & Scott Thulborn (SA)19-12
WOMEN’S PAIRS Ellen Ryan (NSW) & Julie Keegan (QLD)def Anne Johns (NSW) & Rebecca Van Asch (TAS)17-8
MEN’S O60 PAIRS Peter Leon (QLD) & Ian Warner (VIC)def Paul Staggard Snr (QLD) & Rob Parrella (QLD)19-18
WOMEN’S 060 PAIRSGail Crompton (QLD) & Di Cunnington (QLD)def Adele Pershouse (QLD) & Mary Geary (QLD)19-11
MEN’S FOURS Ryan Burnett (QLD), Darren Burnett (SCO), Paul Foster (SCO), Alex Marshall (SCO)def Sam Laguzza (NSW), Jade Groenewege (QLD), Robbie Wild (QLD), Sean Baker (QLD)13-9
WOMEN’S FOURS Tiffany Brodie (VIC), Amelia Bruggy (TAS), Georgia White (QLD), Chloe Stewart (QLD)def Ellen Ryan (NSW), Julie Keegan (QLD), Kay Moran (NSW), Karen Murphy (NSW)14-13
U18 GIRLS SINGLESJessica Srisamruaybai (QLD)def Mikayla Long (VIC)21-6
U18 BOYS SINGLES Jono Davis (NSW)def Indi Conlan (QLD)21-7
BWD SINGLES – HEARING IMPAIRED Dianne Reddick (QLD) def Janet Hogan (QLD)21-12
BWD SINGLES – INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY Nathan Appleton (QLD)def Krystie Ebert (QLD)21-2
BWD SINGLES – PHYSICAL DISABILITY MEN James Reynolds (NSW)def Josh Barry (VIC)21-8
BWD SINGLES – PHYSICAL DISABILITY WOMEN Lynda Bennett (NZ)def Michelle Campbell (NSW)21-8
BWD SINGLES – VISION IMPAIRED MEN Jake Fehlberg (QLD)def Russell Hadley (NSW)21-7
BWD SINGLES – VISION IMPAIRED WOMEN Lynne Seymour (QLD)def Joy Forster (QLD)21-17
BWD PAIRS – MULTI DISABILITY Philip Plackett (NSW) & Bernie Wolland (QLD)def Nathan Appleton (QLD) & Josh Barry (VIC) 15-14
BWD PAIRS – VISION IMPAIRED Chris Backstrom (QLD) & Jake Fehlberg (QLD)def Lynne Seymour (QLD) & Brandon Smith (QLD)21-18
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT Ellen Ryan (NSW)