Defeat leaves McIlroy to chase a bowls bronze
Ryan Bester put aside friendship to knock New Zealand's Shannon McIlroy out of gold medal contention in the men's singles lawn bowls competition in Glasgow.
The Canadian has spent a lot of time in New Zealand and Australia over the past decade, playing with and against his Kiwi opponent.
But on the picturesque Kelvingrove greens, Bester displayed no mercy to dispatch McIlroy 21-10 on his way to the final, leaving the Nelson bowler to contest the bronze medal match tomorrow against Australia's Aron Sherriff - another foe McIlroy is very familiar with.
"Me and Shannon have played together a few times and we're really good mates," Bester said.
"It's always hard playing really good friends."
While McIlroy wasn't at his best, whenever he looked like getting back into the match, Bester would destroy his hopes with the last bowl of the end.
It happened with increasing regularity as Bester would either draw to the jack or knock back McIlroy's shot bowl to swing the score his way.
"At least three times, he had at least two shots and I got one, so that's a nine-shot difference right there in just three bowls," Bester admitted.
Down 8-5, McIlroy held three shots on the 10th end but Bester's last bowl got a wick off one of McIlroy's, moved the kitty towards his own and McIlroy never got closer to his rival from there.
"He played pretty well, but at the same time, when he was off-target he was getting results," McIlroy said.
"That doesn't help, but that's just part and parcel of bowls - he got the luck a bit on his side."
McIlroy had earlier beaten England's Sam Tolchard 21-12 in the quarterfinal but said he struggled to repeat that form after a heavy shower in between matches changed how the slow greens played.
"The rink was probably a bit sticky just after the early showers," said the 27-year-old from the Stoke club.
"It was hard to get any finish on my bowls. I played England in the morning and played really really well - my bowls were finishing.
"But in that game [against Bester], some of them were stuck out wide and just wouldn't get back to the centre line.
"When things like that start happening, it gets a bit tough - you've got to try to figure out another way to score."
Bester obviously found the conditions more to his liking.
"I just picked the green up quite early," he said.
"The greens are a lot better today than they have been - the rain kinda helped - it was a bit easier to get close.
"Shannon tried to chase shots and it's always hard to do that, especially on these greens."
McIlroy said he would need to pick himself up from the disappointment of defeat for his bronze medal match.
"I suppose I'll just do what I've been doing right from the start really ... it's just another game of bowls.
"You don't have to grow an extra arm or an extra leg to play better, just turn up with the right attitude, go out there, do your thing and hope it goes to plan."
He admitted he'd still be very satisfied with a bronze medal among a top-class field.
However, there won't be a second medal for Jo Edwards and women's pairs partner Val Smith as they succumbed 14-10 to Northern Ireland's Mandy Cunningham and Barbara Cameron after leading 10-6 through 12 of the 18 ends of their quarterfinal.
Edwards had earlier won gold in the women's singles while Smith was part of the four that won bronze.
The NZ team will enter the final day of the bowls programme with three medals after the para-bowls open triples team claimed silver after being beaten 13-11 in a dramatic climax by South Africa.