It has been a busy couple of weeks for Southland bowlers with the 35th edition of the ILT Foundation sponsored Invitation Charity Pairs and the Southland Fours Championships held over consecutive weekends.
The Invitation Charity Pairs is a showcase event for Southland bowlers and was another resounding success, with recipient charities gratefully acknowledging the support of the bowling community.
The weekend opened on the Friday night with invitation players paired with local development players in a split sixes competition, where Ken Walker (Dunedin) and Southland Bowling Club junior Jack King combined to take the honours in a closely fought event.
Despite players having to contend with a mix of cold winds, hailstorms and snow flurries in the invitation pairs there was determined competition to make the playoffs.
Thirty-two pairs became four for the semifinals, where Wayne Stewart and Blair Thomson outscored Fraser Elder and Linda Milne, and Grant Stumbles and Graham Low held their nerve to narrowly defeat Lyall Spencer and Sonny Tautari.
Stumbles (Dunedin) and Low (Southland) started strongly in the final, picking up a maximum six shots on the first end. With steady, consistent play they did not allow Stewart (Southland) and Thomson (South Otago) back into the match, racing to a 13-nil lead after five ends before Stewart conceded, allowing Stumbles and Low to claim the title and join a celebrated list of past champions.
The plate event was won by Bob McAulay (South Otago) and promising development player Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Southland).
Four players won their first Southland open titles at Gore last Sunday when the Southland Fours Championships were decided. Joan McGregor skipped her Waverley team of Lesley Wairau, Jane Reid and Carmel Stewart to win the Ladies Open event over defending champions Pat Clark (Invercargill), Lyn Beardsley, Elaine James and Pam Calder, 14 shots to 10.
Northend's Doug Walker and his team of Sonny Tautari, Ian McCallum and Trevor Hodgkinson survived some close encounters on their way to the Men's Open final, where they defeated Stuart Dickson (Waikiwi), Bruce Ross, Bryan Harvey and Brent Thomson 18-13.
The scores were locked at 12-all after 12 of the 15 ends, but four shots on the 13th end gave Walker the buffer he needed to hang on for the title.
Otatara's Jason Heffer responded well on his promotion to skip of the team of Scott Ramsay, Russell McKenzie and Trevor Burgess to defeat the composite team of Allan Bailey, Tony Phillips, Russell Murdock and Kerry Cartwright 18-14 in the development men's event.
In an all-Eastern affair Vi King (Hokonui), Viv Ellam, Gwen Ballock and Wendy Dowling won 15-8 over Clair McKee (Riversdale), Linda Carson, Val Lithgow and Jan Dunnett in the development ladies final.
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