Brilliant fields for Nugget

Carmen Anderson is one of the top prospects in the women’s division of the Golden Nugget.
Carmen Anderson is one of the top prospects in the women’s division of the Golden Nugget. Blainey Woodham

ONLY 18 men and 16 women have won the Golden Nugget Invitation Prestige Singles titles in its 25-year history.

However, the odds are in favour of new champion in the men's and women's sections in this year's tournament, which begins at Tweed Heads Bowls Club on Monday.

There's a colourful opening ceremony at 11.15am, featuring a march past of the invited entrants, with round one starting at 1pm.

Two more rounds will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the semi-finals and finals scheduled for Thursday.

Defending champions Kelvin Kerkow and Jo Edwards face what is arguably the hardest task in lawn bowls - to win back-to-back Nuggets. And with Australia's and New Zealand's best singles components against them, selecting a winner is almost impossible.

Kerkow will start favourite to be the first man to win back-to-back Golden Nugget crowns. However, it must be remembered that he only scraped through to the final last year.

Kerkow and new Australian Open winner Mark Casey finished on three wins each with the same margin in their quarter-final but Kerkow won through to the semi-finals by the smallest of percentages.

This year's event has attracted the hottest line-up of the top singles players in Australasia, continuing a tradition of quality fields dating back to the first Golden Nugget final in 1986.

That was when the late legend of bowls, Ken Williams, defeated the colourful Rob Parrella 31-30 in a heart-stopping final match played before a full house crowd at Tweed Heads

Australia's World Bowls singles representative Leif Selby, runner-up to Kerkow last year (25-17), won all five sectional matches last year, including a win over Kerkow, 25-19, and then won the semi-final against young champion Ben Twist to secure a place in the final.

He will be looking to win his first Golden Nugget.

The 2010 winner, Brett Wilkie, suffered a setback last year, winning only one sectional match.

That's how tough it is to win this wonderful tournament.

Kerkow will be out to win his fifth Golden Nugget, after previously being successful in 1994, 1997, 2008 and last year.

Other former winners taking to the mats are Steve Glasson (1995, 1997, and 2009) and Nathan Rice (2006).

"These are truly magnificent fields in both men's and ladies. The best bowlers in Australia and New Zealand will be striving to win one of the most prestigious tournaments in lawn bowls," THBC chairman Peter Howell said.

The women's draw is packed full of top-class bowlers.

Jo Edwards will be out to defend her title against the likes of Claire Duke, Lisa Phillips, Carmen Anderson, Karen Murphy and Kristina Krstic.

Australia's new world bowls singles representative, Murphy, has won the Nugget five times and Anderson is a dual winner along with Edwards.

All these women are in the same section, so there'll be high-quality matches from the opening bowl on Monday.

This year's Australian Open winner and Nugget winner in 2006, Lindsay Armitage, is up against World Bowls skipper Rebecca Quail, who lost the final to Edwards last year.

Also in that section are star bowlers Kelsey Cottrell, New Zealand's Val Smith, Julie Keegan and wildcard winner Wendy Wilson.

The Golden Nugget is split into men's and women's events, with 12 males and females doing battle in sectional play over five rounds.

Each of the competitions is split into two sections. Each bowler plays the other five in the section, with the top two from each section progressing to the semi-finals

The winner of section A will play the runner-up in section B and the winner of section B faces the runner-up in section A.

A live scoreboard will be online for every match and will be updated after each game.

For the first time, the Golden Nugget will be broadcast live on air, on 91.3 SportFM on the internet.

Thirty-two of Australia's top juniors will contest the Junior Golden Nugget on the indoor green this weekend, with matches starting at 8am today and finals tomorrow afternoon.

Topics:  lawn bowls tweed heads bowls club

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