Rice cracker coast bowler stars in Golden Nugget thriller
By Bob Anthony
The Helensvale Bowls Club enjoyed a mini gold rush when its bowlers claimed the men's and women's titles in the Golden Nugget Invitational Prestige Singles at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club yesterday.
In an outstanding display of bowls, 2005 Golden Nugget runner-up Nathan Rice went one better yesterday, downing South Tweed Sports' Kelvin Kerkow 25-14 before a capacity crowd.
Rice, coming off victory in the Salisbury Super Bowls, showed plenty of patience and excellent judgement in windy conditions, to hold off the Australian Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
The final, a race to be the first to 25 shots, saw both players evenly matched with the scores locked at 12-all.
However, with Kerkow holding four shots, Rice managed to draw perfectly and claim the point to give him a 13-12 advantage and swing the momentum.
Rice gained in confidence, commanding the head and steadily extending his lead while Kerkow tried to drive the kitty to disrupt Rice's bowls without success.
The breakthrough win saw Rice collect $6000 in prizemoney and an impressive trophy.
"This is my first major singles titles," a relieved Rice after the match.
"I won in Brisbane and that gave me some confidence, though singles really isn't my game.
"The wind made things tricky but I knew if I could continue to keep drawing well, I had a chance.
"I think the end where we were locked at 12-all and Kelvin had four shots on me was the turning point.
"When I drew the shot that gave me a huge boost.
"If I'd missed, he would have gotten a good lead on me and that probably would have been it.
"It was important to get off to a good start and I did that and Kelvin missed on a couple of drives so things just went my way."
Rice is now looking forward to competing in the Australian Indoor Championships at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club's indoor green on August 21-24.
By contrast, the women's final was a real nail-biter, going right down to the wire as Helensvale's Lynsey Armitage and Victorian Mary-Anne Canute staged one of the great finals in Golden Nugget history.
Armitage, 22, showed maturity of a seasoned veteran to steadily build a lead over Canute, judging the greens to perfection. At one stage, Armitage had a commanding 15-10 lead.
When it seemed like a matter of time before the Helensvale bowler claimed her first Golden Nugget, Canute fought back, closing the score at 24-all.
Both bowlers had plenty of support in the crowd but is was the younger Armitage who showed her potential drawing the shot to win the final 25-24.
For Armitage, the Golden Nugget victory follows on from her World Junior Cup singles title and her Commonwealth games pairs gold medal.
In the play-offs for third and fourth, former South Tweed bowler Steve Glasson defeated South Australia Wayne Ruediger 25-21 while home town favourite Carmen Anderson delighted the crowd with a25-19 win over five-time previous winner of the Golden Nugget NSW's Karen Murphy.