IT NEVER usually pays to upset your hosts but that wasn’t the case for Westbury bowler Keith Bailey as he carried off the title at North Wilts IBC’s inaugural open singles tournament on Sunday.
The 57 year old, who plays out of the Clarrie Dunbar indoor club in Standerwick near Trowbridge and for Holt outdoors, clinched the £1000 first prize at the event, part of the planetbowls.com national series and co-sponsored by the Gazette & Herald, after defeating Egham’s Barry Jenkins in straight sets in the final at the Chippenham venue.
Few could argue that Bailey, a self-employed heating and plumbing engineer, had not done it the hard way either, coming back from heavy first-set losses to win both his quarter and semi finals on tie-breaks on the last bowl, even if he did risk the wrath of his hosts as he made his way through six matches to ultimate triumph.
Bailey was almost single-handedly responsible for the demise of the North Wilts’ players challenge on their own green, again overcoming the loss of the first set to defeat the home club’s Steve Snook, followed by Alex Jacobs in the first two rounds on Saturday evening.
He then saw off North Wilts’ men’s club champion Wayne Snook in straight sets in the last 16 before accounting for another home player, Justin Davis, in three despite losing the opening set 10-1.
“I was up against North Wilts players, who I know, virtually the whole way through,’’ he said. “Against Wayne, I think I was playing both him and the people watching because he’s a really good player and their darling really.
“I probably wasn’t very popular, but I think I won them around in the end!’’ Bailey’s all-Wiltshire passage to the final was completed as he fought back from a 12-3 first-set reverse to oust Andy Moore from Melksham’s Christie Miller club in the semi finals.
“I was very pleased,’’ said Bailey, who rated the tournament win as up there with the best of his playing career. “I haven’t really liked playing on the (North Wilts) green before because I just couldn’t find it very well.
“I’d had a few wins there, but more losses, but this time I got that monkey off my back.’’
Bailey, who will put the prize money towards his wedding to fiancée Thelma in Trowbridge on June 28, reached the last 16 of his own club’s planetbowls.com tournament, won by Clarrie Dunbar clubmate Andy Colebrooke earlier this month, and plans to compete in the one at Poole’s Dolphin club next month.
He emerged the victor from a high-class field that included several of the top ten in the planetbowls.com rankings – including leader Tom Doig, Steve Tuohy, world championship competitor Danny Denison, Neil Smith, Shaun Jones and last season’s beaten grand finalist Scott Edwards (ten).
Top-ranked Doig was ousted in the opening round by Barwell’s Peter Hobbs, who earned the £50 ‘bounty’ for the feat.
Tournament director Dave Williams declared the club’s inaugural event as a resounding success, with next year’s already being planned.
“Everybody that was there, players and spectators, was very complimentary about the event and the atmosphere,’’ he said.
“We’re hoping to do the same weekend next year, although we just have to wait for the approval on that, but it was very good indeed.’’
Last 16: Danny Denison (Torquay Utd) bt Michael Knight (Desborough) 7-4, 4-4; Wayne Snook (North Wilts) lost to Keith Bailey (Clarrie Dunbar) 5-6, 2-7; Sean Gingell (Egham) lost to Andy Moore (Christie Miller) 0-9, 3-6; Justin Davis (North Wilts) bt Kyle Anderson (Westlecot) 6-7, 9-2, 2-0; Bean Paulley (Bournemouth) lost to Ian Jekins (Egham) 8-5, 0-9, 1-2; Leigh Price (Adur) bt David Pitt (Hounslow) 7-6, 6-6; Barry Jekins (Egham) bt Steve Tuohy (Egham) 6-1, 4-5, 2-1; Ryan Atkins (Malvern Hills bt Mark Atkins (Malvern Hills) 10-3, 6-6.
Quarter finals: R Atkins bt Denison 5-6, 7-3, 2-1; Prince lost to B Jenkins 8-3, 5-9, 1-2; Davis lost to Bailey 10-1, 2-7, 1-2; Moore bt I Jenkins 4-5, 8-3, 2-0.
Semi finals: R Atkins lost to B Jenkins 9-2, 5-8, 1-2; Moore lost to Bailey 12-3, 2-7, 1-2.
Final: B Jenkins lost to Bailey 5-7, 4-5.
MORE PICTURES FROM THE NORTH WILTS TOURNAMENT IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD