Three Scots bowlers successfully negotiated the opening matches of the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines world indoor singles championship in Norfolk with Wayne Hogg, David Gourlay and Jonathan Ross all moving through to the second round next week.
Late last night, Hogg, 31, a well known and very successful player in East Lothian circles where he honed his skills in his formative years but who now represents East Fife indoor bowling club having relocated to Glenrothes, won through as a qualifier and turned in a blistering performance to upset the odds when he took the scalp of Norfolk favourite and 2006 champion Mervyn King 10-4, 8-3.
Hogg meant business from the moment he stepped onto the blue portable rink at the Potters Leisure Resort, reeling off a full house of four shots on the first end and he never looked back as he took the first set with an end to spare. In the second he counted another full house to take a 6-1 lead and he also sealed the second set in eight ends.
“I knew I would have to play that well,” said Hogg. “I watched Mervyn at Perth in November and he is always impressive with his first two bowls. I knew I had to match him early on because I know he’s a tough cookie to knock off when he gets into a rhythm.”
David Gourlay also had to pull out all the stops in an enthralling match against Midlothian star Colin Walker, who also came through from the qualifiers. It was nip and tuck all the way as both players played every shot in the book and the winner was never certain until the very last end.
The first set was tied at 6-6 and, in the second, Gourlay led 5-0 only for Walker to level at 5-5 with two ends remaining. On the penultimate end the momentum swung with every delivery but, holding shot to a ditched white, Walker could only watch as Gourlay produced an inch-perfect takeout with the last bowl to count a double before playing a tactical last end to protect his lead and win the set 8-5.
Gourlay said: “That was a belter of a match. It had everything and the result could have gone either way.
“When I saw the draw I knew it was going to be difficult. Colin is a real quality player and a sport into the bargain, so to win and get these vital ranking points under my belt was a definite bonus, and a relief.”
Former Irish cap Jonathan Ross, who now lives in Paisley and represents Scotland both indoors and outdoors, also turned in a powerful display and will line up in the second round against Gourlay on Monday night.
Ranked ninth, he had an unexpectedly comfortable win over Devon’s Ian Bond 7-2, 10-0. “There were nine singles scored in the first set so that tells you how close the heads were, but it was a different story in the second. I was always in the area and Ian never got much luck,” he said.
Welshman John Price, seeded 16, beat Newcastle’s Brett Arkely 9-0, 9-6.