Casey has sentiment on his side

COMMONWEALTH Games gold medallist Mark Casey will start Sunday's $40,000 BCIB Queensland Open at Bribie Island Bowls Club as the sentimental favourite to capture this year's crown.

Having dropped last year's final to world number two Leif Selby during an engrossing affair, Casey, 27, is looming ominously as the player to beat after fine-tuning his preparations in recent weeks with some impressive performances at Mooloolaba, Tweed Heads and Ballina.

Staged at the picturesque Bribie Island Bowls Club from July 26 to 31, the third grand prix on the Bowls Australia calendar features singles, pairs and triples for both men and women and will feature the who's who of the bowls world.

According to Casey, who won gold in the triples at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, there will be no easy games at Bribie Island over the course of the tournament.

“It will be a great field,” Casey said recently.

“Bribie Island is a terrific club and I can't wait to get there and hopefully play well.

“I've been close on a couple of occasions having reached the finals or semi-finals, but I'd love to win it.”

Among key contenders lining up in this year's field include reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kelvin Kerkow, Australian ace Lee Schraner and newly crowned Queensland champion Nathan Rice.

In the women's field, NSW young gun Lisa Mitchell will fancy her chances after reaching the final of the Australian Indoor Championships in April, while the likes of former Australian representatives Maria Rigby and Katrina Wright will also be in the mix.

Earlier this year Griffiths sisters Carly and Shahn joined forces with the Gold Coast's Georgia White to capture the Queensland state championship in a massive boil over.

As a result, the teenagers were handed a free entry into the main draw of the $40,000 tournament, but are far from content to be simply make up the numbers.

Qualifying commences at Bribie Island and surrounding clubs on Wednesday, July 22 with the main draw running from Sunday, July 26 to Friday, July 31.

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