NEIL Smith has just missed-out on a World Bowls Tour tourcard for the third season in a row.
In 2012 he was beaten in the tourcard final by England international Jamie Chestney at Stanley (County Durham) and last year in Blackpool by another England international Billy Jackson.
Last weekend in Blackpool again he fell at the last hurdle losing in the final to Ben Sherwen (Carlisle) 1.5-0.5. Smith drew the first set 7-7 after seven ends and lost the second set 11-5.
A member of the Westlecot Indoor Club but an outdoor player for Wootton Bassett during the summer, Smith had qualified for the UK Masters finals and the chance to win one of the WBT tourcards on offer by winning the Poole UK Masters event last October.
But once again he just fell short in his bid to hit the big time and gain a fulltime place on next season’s 2014/15 World Bowls Tour Indoor scene - World Singles Championship at Potters, International Open and Scottish Open.
A very disappointed Smith, 47, said afterwards: “I am gutted to lose the tourcard final for the third year after beating Gary Smith in the semis.
“It was yet another semi successful weekend, but I just can’t seem to get over the winning line.
“However, I have had another good season, and hopefully the WBT will recognise that and I will get one of the wildcards for one of the events.”
He added: “I still have the world qualifier in September so all is not lost.”
Smith was drawn in the eight-man group one and in his opening match defeated Scotland’s Darren Burnett 2-1. He followed that up with another 2-1 victory over Durham’s Gary Smith, who won last year’s tour card competition.
Smith faced Ben Sherwen (Carlisle) in the final. He said: “I played well again in the first set and led 7-4 with two (ends) to play. He got a one on the eighth and on the last end he drew in with his last to hold two shots. I missed with my last to tie the set 7-7.
“The second set was poised at 2-3 when I dropped a three but then got a single to make it 3-6 before dropping another scrappy three to virtually end the match, eventually losing it 5-11.
“I was so disappointed, I can’t believe I have lost three tourcard finals on the trot. I would probably be in the top 16 by now if I had won them,” he added.
Smith now turns his attention for the next few months to the outdoor bowls scene competing for both Wootton Bassett and Wiltshire.
n WILTSHIRE men’s Middleton Cup trial will be held tomorrow morning (Sunday) at Wootton Bassett (10am).
Thirty-two players from only six Wiltshire clubs have been invited by Middleton Cup team manager Dave Snell and his fellow selectors to take part in the first trial. Two local clubs, Westlecot and Wootton Bassett supply 18 of the 32 members of the Cup squad.
They are: Mel Biggs, Kevin Embling, Mike and Gary Jackson, Graham and Craig Hatherall, Ian Jefferies, Jay Titcombe, Paul Kistle and Mike Richards (Westlecot); Neil Smith, Stephen Snell, Gary Morphet, Kyle Anderson, James Nobbs, Barry Sictorness, Dave Godwin and Chris Cheesley (Wootton Bassett).