The 36th playing of the West Lothian Bowls Association Champion of Champions produced a 150th Anniversary celebration for Bathgate with their 44-year-old challenger Diz (David) Drysdale capturing the title.
Drysdale produced a magnificent display of finely tuned drawing skills and tactically astute jack lengths that resulted in him destroying 39-year-old Queensferry champion Iain McLean, 21-3 in the 12-end final at Linlithgow.
It was a sweet moment for Drysdale, who was competing in the event for the first time having won the Bathgate crown.
“This is a great moment for me,” said Drysdale. “I beat West Lothian Master Cameron Greer in my club final to get myself here and it doesn’t get any better than this when you consider the significance of my two title wins in relation to the 150-year milestone reached this season by Bathgate BC.”
McLean, who beat twice West Lothian Master Andrew Dunnett to win his fourth championship title at Queensferry, came into the final as the favourite having boosted his form with a thrilling 21-18 win over host club champion of Linlithgow Graeme Byrne in the quarter-finals.
Byrne was the home crowd’s favourite and was on course to reach the semi-finals when leading McLean 18-17, but the underdog snapped back with a 1, 3 finish to win an absorbing 23-end battle.
McLean justified the quality of that display with a strong performance in the semis to beat Jim Speirs of Newbridge, 21-18, having pushed on from 10-9 to establish commanding leads of 15-9 then 20-14.
Drysdale’s progress into the final was much less eventful but equally impressive.
Having cruised to a 21-8 win over Eric Miller of Watson Memorial in the quarter-finals, he then dominated Robert Sanderson of Oakbank 21-12 in the last four, despite dropping two 4s and a 3.
So the final promised much but turned out to be a procession with Drysdale making a flying start with counts of 1, 3, 3, 1 to lead 8-0 before McLean made a significant impression to get himself off the mark with a 3.
McLean however was about to experience extremely lean times as Drysdale took control, but very much to his credit, he retained his composure although his efforts were continually frustrated when attempting aggressive and forcing deliveries.
Drysdale was instantly aware that he had the pace of the rink and he produced an excellent lead bowl with great consistency – giving him control of the heads.
McLean struggled to match Drysdale in that department so was forced into an attacking mode that failed to reap any dividends as he continually struggled for consistency, resulting in his forcing shots missing their targets and rolling past the head.
“I was struggling for pace and line so it was a miserable experience for me and a shock to my system considering my form to reach the final,” reflected McLean.
Drysdale was taking no chances of a McLean revival and he proceeded to keep his opponent from settling to any kind of rhythm with a tactically clever change of jack lengths ranging from short, short three-quarters, three-quarters, and the long.
The Bathgate champion also has a delivery that is both smooth and economical and the consistency which that brought was demonstrated by a run of 1, 1, 3, 1, 2, 2, 3 to clinch the title.
The other quarter-finals saw Speirs accelerate from 9-9 to beat Kenny Black of East Calder 21-10 while Sanderson led 17-14 then hit 21 with a magnificent 4 to beat George Inglis Jr of Bridgeness.