Australian Open 2017
The timing couldn’t be better. Nor could the location, as Victorians Josh Thornton and Barrie Lester took out the 2017 Australian Open men’s pairs title to cement their claims for Commonwealth Games berths.
Thornton (East Shepparton) and Lester (Mulgrave Country Club) beat South Australians Wayne Ruediger and Scott Thulborn 18-12 in the final at Broadbeach Bowls Club – the venue for next year’s Games.
In the 18-end final, the Victorian duo got off to a flyer with a five on the first end, and added multiples as required to give themselves a six-shot lead with five ends to play.
As the ends ticked down, there was no nervousness from the Victorians – Thornton playing his role perfectly and ensuring world championship silver medallist Lester had the opportunities for conversion he needed, and mostly took.
Thornton’s steely shot on the final end to land his bowl near the jack with several of Ruediger’s bowls looming ominously to his right was typical of what he produced throughout the match.
Then Lester landed his bowl between those SA bowls and the jack to ensure the South Australians wouldn’t get the six they needed to keep the match alive.
Both Thornton and Lester are eyeing Commonwealth Games spots next year – Thornton in the para-sport team and Lester the Australian senior team he was part of for last year’s World Championships.
And their victory should go a long way to confirming their big-match temperament which will be needed for the cauldron of Games competition back at the Coast in 2018.
There was a second title for Victoria late on Thursday night. The Victorian-powered women’s four outfit of Tiffany Brodie (Clayton), Amelia Bruggy (Bendigo) and Queenslander Georgia White – skipped by Broadbeach’s former Victorian rep Chloe Stewart – made it back-to-back Australian Open wins in a thriller.
They beat an all-star quartet skipped by Karen Murphy in an extra end.
Victorian Ian Warner (Sebastopol) was part of the Over 60 Men’s Pairs winning duo with Queenslander Peter Leon – the pair thrown together last-minute as a team after Warner’s initial partner withdrew. They defeated bowls great Rob Parrella and Paul Staggard senior by a shot in their final.
Josh Barry (Sebastopol) made the physical disability singles final, losing 21-8 to NSW bowler James Reynolds, while Sunbury’s Mikayla Long was also an Australian Open finalist.
She reached the Under 18 girls singles decider, but lost 21-6 to Tweed rising talent Jess Srisamruaybai.
2017 Australian Open results portal