Prestige open pulls big guns

THE 19th Prestige Open Mixed Singles will get underway at Tweed Heads Bowls Club on Sunday with 256 starters from all over Australia vying for the coveted wildcard entry into the Golden Nugget and also for a slice of the $17,600 prize money on offer.

2008 winner Mark Casey will return determined to win the wildcard for the second time but will face tough opposition from many of the nation's top bowlers.

Brett Wilkie will be looking to go one better after finishing runner-up the past two years.

Wilkie traditionally performs well at the Prestige but could find the going tough this year as he is only due to return tomorrow from a national squad training camp in Malaysia.

The Open Mixed Prestige Singles is one of the nation's best tournaments with bowlers competing in a “traditional” 25 shots up - knockout competition where slow starters can fight back over a long game to reach the finish line before their opponent.

The draw of 256 players is split into two pools of 128 players for the first two days of competition.

After two rounds on each of the first two days, 64 players will return on Tuesday for three knock-out rounds reducing the field to the final eight.

Quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be played on Wednesday with the only bowler to win all eight knock-out matches to be crowned the 2009 champion.

Casey, playing in the Monday field, has drawn a tough section and faces Barry Delbridge first up with the winner likely to face Pine River's Alex Murtagh.

THBC Singles champion Graham Richards is in the same eight-man section along with Joey Mills (Redlands) and newly crowned District Champion of Champions singles winner Sean Baker (Broadbeach).

Australian Silver squad member Neville Rodda, now based in South Australia, is likely to clash with consistent local Greg Hardman and evergreen Ray Glasser is drawn to meet in-form Shannon Gittoes in round four if both players survive the tough early rounds.

Kelvin Kerkow and Steve Glasson, winners of the Golden Nugget event in 2007 and 2008 respectively, always play well on the Tweed greens and will be hard to beat.

Kerkow commences his campaign on Sunday at 8.30am against former State Pairs winner Keith Farrelly and could face either Mark Ogorevc or Paul Dorgan in round three on Tuesday.

Ogorevc had Kerkow on the ropes at Salisbury Super Bowl tournament this week after opening up a 14-1 lead but Kerkow came back to win 25-24.

Whoever wins their match is would likely face Shane Globits, another top bowler who always performs well in the big events at THBC.

Interstate players in the field include Western Australians Steve Srhoy, Liz West and Mark Mathews while South Australia is well represented with a strong continent of pennant players eager to play on good greens and enjoy the winter sunshine on the Tweed.

Of the ladies playing in the event, state Singles Champion Lyn Cuthbertson should do well and in-form local Sally Hickman, a semi-finalist in the Black Douglas last week, is one to watch.

Local bowler and THBC staff member Ann Maree Peart, who won the ladies' wildcard entry into the Golden Nugget last year, plays Pam Rowe in round one and would not surprise if she won the wildcard again this year.

The draw is now online the Tweed Heads web site.

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