BOWLS: Westlecot's Smith keeps tourcard hopes alive
WESTLECOT indoor bowler Neil Smith has qualified for the World Bowls Tour Tourcard finals for the fourth time in five years.
The West Swindon man earned the right to take his place in the 16-strong field with victory in the UK Masters qualifier at Poole last weekend.
The field consisted of 32 players divided into eight groups of four, with group winners progressing to the quarter-finals and knockout stages.
In his group, Smith beat Brian Hawkins (Clarrie Dunbar) 1.5-0.5 and followed that up with a 2-0 win over Henry Frost (Netherlands) and a 1-1 draw with Gary Fountain (Dolphin, Poole).
Smith was pushed hard in the quarters by Arthur Thompson (Wales) but won a tiebreak 2-0 to claim a 2-1 victory.
The Wootton Bassett outdoor player had to pull out all the stops in the semis against England junior international Ben Paulley (Bournemouth) after being 6-1 down in the first set.
On the last two ends he grabbed two threes for a 7-6 success before drawing the second set for 1.5-0.5 victory.
The final was a one-sided affair as Smith hammered ex-England international Danny Denison (Torquay United) 9-1, 9-1 in just 35 minutes.
“I am really pleased to qualify for Blackpool again in early May,” said Smith.
“I want to go one better than the previous two years when I lost in the final and win one of those tourcards, which opens the door to all the top indoor tournaments.
“I certainly played my best game of the day in the final against Danny. I just hope I can maintain that sort of form in the weeks to come especially in Perth for the Scottish Open.”
Smith has been drawn against fellow Englishman Robert Paxton in the first round on Sunday, November 10.
Meanwhile, Smith also has the EIBA Premier Threes finals to look forward to in mid-December at Erewash where 16 finalists will be competing for the £3,000 first prize.
Some 24 hours later in Poole, Smith’s daughters Lucy and Katy played in the Ladies World Matchplay qualifier for a place at the World Indoor Championships at Potters (Norfolk) in January.
Katy, 16, opened with a fine win over Adje Soffers in the preliminary round, beating the Netherlands player 6-5 9-3.
She followed that up with a 2-1 win over Jane Murphy (Oxford) winning the tiebreak 2-1 to claim victory.
But in the semi-finals Katy was sunk 5-4, 6-4 by England junior international Katherine Rednall (Ipswich).
Elder sister Lucy, 18, played Welsh international and current World Mixed Pairs champion Laura Thomas in her first match.
Lucy won the first set 10-0 but lost the second 9-1, before being defeated on the last bowl of the tiebreak.
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