BOWLS: Prestigious Westlecot Open to host record field

Swindon Advertiser: Dave Snell will compete in the Westlecot Open Dave Snell will compete in the Westlecot Open

A RECORD field of 96 players will contest this year’s Westlecot Open singles tournament which again forms part of the national planetbowls.com tour.

However, it becomes event number seven this time round in a greatly-expanded 27-event 2013/14 tour.

The increase in entries from 64 to 96 this season has resulted in the Westlecot Open being extended from a two-day to three-day tournament with the opening day being this morning (9am start).

Days two and three will staged on December 14/15, with play commencing each day at 8.30am and the grand final scheduled to take place on the Sunday at 6.15pm.

The increased entry has resulted in the top prize on offer rising from £1,000 for the winner to £1,200, while the prize fund available is up by £400 to £2600.

“The field has to be one of the best-ever assembled for a planetbowls tournament,” said Westlecot indoor chairman Jeff Nichols.

“The club is looking forward to hosting this prestigious event once again and would like to thank all of the firms who are supporting the tournament as without them it would not be possible to hold such a marvellous event.

This year’s tournament has attracted a star-studded field including the three past winners, ex-England international Danny Denison, Mark Royal and Brian Lees, who will all be attempting to regain the title.

But they will face stiff opposition from some of the best players in the world including top 16 players Greg Harlow, world indoor champion 2010 and world number three Robert Paxton and world number nine Mark Royal, who will be among the favourites to land the £1,200 jackpot.

Also competing at Westlecot will be Commonwealth Games stars Sam Tolchard and Jamie Chestney, as well as 2013 Planet Bowls Grand Prix champion Les Gillett, together with a host of other internationals and champions, plus 10 players who will feature in tomorrow’s England senior men’s international trial for the 2014 team.

A number of local players are also competing in the Westlecot tournament including Neil Smith, Ian Jefferies, Chris Cheesley, Dave Snell and former Westlecot player and England international Neil Hope.

Two places in the 96-strong field have been reserved for local players from the Westlecot club.

Sixteen of them will compete in a preliminary showdown for those two places with the first of two tournaments being held on Monday evening featuring eight hopefuls. The other takes place this coming Monday.

Last Monday’s qualifier saw youngster Katy Smith defeat Tom Pittuck in a tie-break to take the match 2-1 on sets and book a place in the main competition.

But Smith has an extremely difficult opening match as she has been drawn against reigning champion Lees.

The 96 players taking part are divided into two groups A and B, with games in each played down to a last four. The eight remaining players next Sunday then go into an open draw for the quarter and semi-finals.

The initial popularity of the Westlecot Open has led to tournaments being held nationwide under the auspices of www.planetbowls.com and a big expansion in the number scheduled to take place this season.

Spectators are welcome to the Westlecot Open and admission is free on all three days of competition, with bar and catering facilities available.

  • WESTLECOT men are out of the National Over 60s Inter-Club Double Rinks competition.

They were beaten by six shots in their third-round tie by Cotswold (Stroud) as they went down 43-37 despite sharing the rink honours 1-1.

Hedley Bowen’s home rink came from 5-3 down at five ends to clock up a 22-15 win, but Dave Snell’s quartet in Stroud lost 28-15, conceding a crucial nine shots - a five and a four - on the last two ends.

Across the board Westlecot were adrift for practically the entire match.

They trailed 12-4 at five ends, 18-15 at 10, 27-23 at 15 and 31-30 at 18 but went three shots up on the 19th.

However, with Snell dropping five and then a four, the brief overall lead quickly evaporated away into a disappointing six-shot loss.

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