Wood goes to the wire in Potters return

WILLIE Wood's fairy-tale return to the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship ended in disappointment last night when the 71-year-old Scot was beaten by Ireland's Jonathan Ross in a dramatic second round match which went to the wire.

WILLIE Wood's fairy-tale return to the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship ended in disappointment last night when the 71-year-old Scot was beaten by Ireland's Jonathan Ross in a dramatic second round match which went to the wire.

Runner-up in the 1989 championship and making his first appearance since 1999, Wood arrived at Potters Leisure Resort after prevailing in the Scottish qualifiers - a feat which entailed winning seven matches against stiff opposition in the country.

The sprightly septuagenarian survived the first round at Potters in straight sets to earn his second round clash with Ross, the 36-year-old world No16 from Belfast.

The Paisley-based Irishman led throughout the first set - but Wood romped to a 6-0 lead in the second after just two ends before clinching the set with a single in the final end to force the match into tie-breaks.

Honours were shared after the first two ends, and a series of stunning bowls saw the lead in the decider swap from red to green and back. With two shots down and two bowls to play, Wood nominated to kill the end - and duly delivered a powerful shot which kept the jack on the rink, but gave the Scot the lead by two shots!

Ross reclaimed the advantage and Wood's final wood failed to change the status quo - giving the Belfast boy a nail-biting 8-4, 7-8, 2-1 win.

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"It was a great game to be involved with," said a delighted Ross afterwards. "It's a great relief to get through.

“I was happy with my game generally - but had a bad start in the second set. I played a great last bowl," added the Irishman who can now look forward to cementing his position in the world's top 16.

Ross revealed that trouble with wearing glasses and contact lenses had led him to undergo laser surgery on both eyes - just three days before his opening match in the championship.

"It was a risk I took - but it has already worked. It's given me much more freedom," Ross explained.

Wood expressed disappointment at losing so closely, but admitted that the experience of being back in the championship made it all worthwhile.

"I had to play seven games to qualify in the first place - and that was no mean feat," said the distinguished East Lothian bowler.

"I thought I had a chance here - I fancied the draw, but that's the way it goes.

"I'm sure I'll give it another go next year. I'll be back," promised Wood.

An exhausting 18-hour travel schedule from Ireland, via Scotland, to the Norfolk coast in England led to a happy ending for Scottish qualifier Stewart Anderson when he trounced Fred Fong, a qualifier from Canada, in today's final first round match.

The 24-year-old from Cumnock in Ayrshire had represented Scotland in the weekend's Junior Home Internationals in Ballymoney and flew back to Glasgow on Sunday night. There he was collected by Billy Anderson, who drove his son through the night in time to compete in the championship.

"I was able to sleep in the back of the car, but I felt OK once I got onto the rink," said Anderson after the 9-7, 14-1 victory which takes him through to a second round clash with Australia's Mark McMahon, the 15th seed.

"I was reasonably confident about winning - or otherwise I wouldn't have played in the Home Internationals. However, to play for your country is very special - and I would go anywhere to represent Scotland."

The young Scot, who beat two world top ten players on the way to the semi-finals of last month's Scottish International Open as a qualifier - is clearly thought by some to be a hot prospect at Potters. Odds dramatically shortened on Anderson over the weekend from outside the 40s to 6-1.

"I don't think about that - I think there are a lot of players here who could win the title and, if I play my best bowls, I have a chance. But I'm just taking each game as it comes."

Earlier, Hong Kong qualifier Stephen Chan secured a surprise place in the second round when he beat England international Michael Bowley. Both were making their debuts in the championship, but Chan - who celebrates his 55th birthday on Thursday - played a composed game to overcome the 34-year-old from Nottingham 8-5, 6-6.

Devonian Robert Paxton, a former postman from Exeter who is now based in Perth, Australia, made an impressive start to his 2010 campaign by beating Australian newcomer Geoff Maskell, a 55-year-old from Melbourne, 8-5, 6-6.

Paxton, a surprise semi-finalist in 2006, will now face English compatriot Andy Thomson, the eighth seed, for a place in the last 16. The Londoner partnered Ian Bond to success in Sunday's World Pairs final.

"Nobody's won both the singles and pairs titles together - so the omens are good for me," said Paxton.

Tuesday (January 12) schedule:

World Singles Championship, 2nd round:


[7] Jason Greenslade (WAL) v Brett Wilkie (AUS)

[12] Ian Bond (ENG) v [Q] Ben Twist (AUS)


[3] Mark Royal (ENG) v [Q] Jarrad Breen (WAL)

[14] Simon Skelton (ENG) v Nick Brett (ENG)


[9] Mervyn King (ENG) v Steve Glasson (AUS)

Wednesday (January 13) schedule:

World Singles Championship, 2nd round:


[8] Andy Thomson (ENG) v [Q] Robert Paxton (ENG)


[1] Billy Jackson (ENG) v Hirendra Bhartu (CAN)

[4] Paul Foster (SCO) v Richard Morgan (WAL)


[6] David Gourlay (AUS) v [Q] Gary Hutchison (SCO)