NEIL Smith, from the Westlecot indoor club, produced a magnificent performance last weekend at Potters Leisure Resort, Norfolk, while competing in the Open Singles Circuit 2019 Grand Final.

The 53-year-old came from behind to beat world number 22 James Rippey (Falcon, Chelmsford) on a deciding extra end to lift the OSC Grand Final Trophy 2-1 (4-7, 9-3, 2-1) and scoop the top prize of £1,600.

It was third time lucky for Smith as he had lost in two Grand Finals previously when the competition was part of the planet.bowls set-up, falling to Shaun Jones (Malvern Hills) in 2014 and to Louis Ridout (Exonia, Exeter) the following year.

The top 32 players in last season’s OSC rankings were invited to take part in the Grand Final and drawn into eight groups of four with the top two in each group progressing to the last 16 knockout stages.

Smith was drawn in Group A of the qualifiers, winning all three of his round-robin games by beating Shaun Jones 2-1 (3-9, 8-7, 2-1), Darren Nutman (Dorchester) 2-0 (7-3, 9-1) and Michael Knight (Whiteknights, Reading) 2-1 (6-4, 1-8, 2-1) to top the group.

On Sunday in the knockout stages, Smith eliminated Ian Jenkins (Egham) 2-1 (7-9, 8-4, 2-1) and in a tight quarter-final beat Stephen Harris (Spalding) 1.5-0.5 (6-6, 6-5).

In an open draw semi-final, Smith was pitched against Shaun Jones (Malvern Hills) again but ran out 2-1 victor (10-0, 2-5, 2-1) to book his place in the final.

Smith, who is the Open Singles Circuit administrator, was delighted with his victory and biggest bowls win and prize money cheque.

He said: “It was an unbelievable weekend. I never imagined I could win the event with all the organising but somehow I managed to do it.

“I am looking forward to the Westlecot Open Singles now this weekend.”

Two other players from Westlecot, Phil Gregory and Mike Titcombe, also contested the Grand Final.

Gregory finished fifth in the qualifying rankings, one place above Smith, and Titcombe was 27th.

Both made early exits, failing to negotiate their group round-robin and finishing fourth in Groups B and C respectively.

THE 10th annual Westlecot Open Singles Tournament will be staged this weekend at the Old Town indoor club in Bowling Green Lane.

A high-quality field of 64 has been assembled, headed by four players – Les Gillett, Mark Royal, Scott Edwards and James Rippey (all England) – who are ranked in the top 22 of the world rankings.

World number 14 Royal, from Risbygate IBC (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk), is a two-time winner of the Westlecot Open in 2012 and 2015.

The annual Westlecot OSC tournament again forms part of the national circuit. It is number 10 out of a scheduled 32 tournaments to be played this season (2019/20).

The tournament carries a top prize of £1,000 for the winner and £400 to the runner-up in a prize pot of over £2200.

This year’s tournament is again sponsored by Only Bungalows and Hillier Funeral Service, as well as Michael’s Workwear, Swindon, and Royal Wootton Bassett butcher K & EJ Crump & Son.

Play commences at 8.30am today and 9am tomorrow and spectators are very welcome with entry free of charge.

Full catering facilities and a bar will be in operation on both days.