Jackson joins Potters bowls cull

ENGLISH title-holder Billy Jackson became the latest victim of the seeds cull in the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship when he fell to Canadian outsider Hirendra Bhartu in the second round of the flagship World Bowls Tour event.

ENGLISH title-holder Billy Jackson became the latest victim of the seeds cull in the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship when he fell to Canadian outsider Hirendra Bhartu in the second round of the flagship World Bowls Tour event.

Earlier, former world champion Andy Thomson also failed at his first hurdle - but normal service was restored later at Potters Leisure Resort when Scots Paul Foster and David Gourlay - seeded four and six, respectively, and also both former champions - both prevailed.

Billy Jackson, the 39-year-old from Lincoln who won the title for the first time 12 months ago, raced to a 4-0 lead and looked to be heading to his predictable victory. But Bhartu, the world No21 from British Columbia in only his third appearance in the championship, began to exert control - and, three shots down going into the final end, almost scored a full-house four to win the set.

However, the measure for the fourth bowl gave the decision to Jackson - so the set was tied. But in the second, Bhartu forged a 6-2 lead, which he then extended to 8-4 before the final end - leaving the defending champion to score four shots to save his skin.

Jackson's final delivery seemed a lost cause, with the jack surrounded by a tight cluster of both red and green bowls. But the world champion saw an opportunity - and his stunning delivery came down the rink to scatter all the green bowls, leaving his four red bowls scoring a four - surely the shot of the championship!

Jackson then took the first end of the tie-break, but his luck ran out when 51-year-old Bhartu claimed the next two to record a shock 7-7, 8-8, 2-1 upset.

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"This is what I have been aiming for for many years," said the Canadian, who recalled the first match he played at Potters in 2005, when he admitted that he did not have the confidence to draw close to the jack.

"After that match, I set myself a goal of being able to draw within a foot of the jack. Today's win is the breakthrough I have been striving for since then.

"I won a bronze medal in the world outdoor championships a few years ago - but this far outweighs that!"

Jackson, who narrowly missed out on the World Pairs title on Sunday, said: "I had a lot of chances, but I didn't take them. I'm disappointed with myself mainly for not performing as well as I know I can," said the former champion who becomes the first at Potters to fall at the first hurdle.

"It's a funny pressure, defending your title. I've never experienced it before. However, I think I put most of the pressure on myself, but he played some very good bowls.”

Eighth seed Andy Thomson, champion in 1994 and 1995, led 5-2 in both sets against fellow Englishman Robert Paxton, a qualifier who reached the semi-finals in 2006. But the 31-year-old from Devon snatched a double in the final end of the first set to clinch it by a single shot, then took a single in the last end of the second to win 7-6, 6-5.

"Andy played some good bowls out there today - on performance, I was probably lucky to win," admitted Paxton, who now spends much of his time in Perth, Western Australia.

"It's nice to get a result like that - they give me much-needed ranking points."

Thomson was competing in his first singles match after playing a sensational game on Sunday to win the World Pairs title with Ian Bond for the second time.

"I always feel I'm not a great singles player," said the 54-year-old Londoner afterwards. "I'm a much better team player. But I was still in the game against Robert."

After recovering from a set down to beat Welshman Richard Morgan 2-8, 6-4, 2-1, three times former champion Paul Foster admitted that he apologised to his opponent afterwards.

"I said to Richard 'I've stolen the match'," said the 36-year-old from Ayrshire. "He hardly had a bad bowl in the first set - I just had to hang in there."

Foster prophesied that would be further shocks in the championship: "The quality of the qualifiers is incredible this year."

David Gourlay, a former world number one and winner of the title in 1996, romped to a 10-6, 9-1 win over fellow Scot Gary Hutchison, a qualifier from Falkirk.

"The first round is always tough - the pressure is immense," said Gourlay. "And I was playing someone I knew nothing about.

"I felt I played so well in the Pairs - but I just didn't know what to expect in the singles.

"I've been putting in a lot of work and I hope it's going to pay off."

Thursday (14 January) schedule:

World Singles Championship, 2nd round:


[15] Mark McMahon (AUS) v [Q] Stewart Anderson (SCO)


[2] Alex Marshall, MBE (SCO) v [Q] Tim Stone (ENG)

[5] Greg Harlow (ENG) v [Q] Phil Rowlands (WAL)


[13] Les Gillett (ENG) v Darren Burnett (SCO)

Friday (15 January) schedule:


Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round

Mary Ann Beath (USA) v Janice Gower (ENG)

World Indoor Mixed Pairs Matchplay Championship, quarter-finals

Debbie Stavrou (ENG) & Paul Foster (SCO)

V Kerry Packwood & Jason Greenslade (WAL)


[1] Ceri Ann Davies & David Gourlay (SCO)

V Ruthy Gilor (ISR) & Andy Thomson (ENG)

World Singles Championship, 2nd round

[11] Kelvin Kerkow (AUS) v [Q] Stephen Chan (HKG) 7.30pm

Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round

Stephanie Crates (ENG) v Dee McSparran (USA)