Twenty-eight year old Tayla Bruce found two ends of magic to claim the women’s singles title at the World Bowls Championships on the Gold Coast, Australia.
The Christchurch bowler found two ends of magic to emerge from behind to claim the honours 21-18 against formidable Canadian contender, Kelly McKerihen.
Bruce, unbeaten in singles competition this week, became the third New Zealander to win the world championship women’s singles, following the incomparable Elise Wilkie, a two-time champion, and Val Smith, which makes New Zealand the most successful bowls nation in this discipline.
She adds the world championship singles title to her World Champion of Champions crown that she won last year, just the second person to claim both honours, following Australia’s Karen Murphy.
“Honestly that last end all I am doing is preparing for the worst,” said Bruce. “It is crazy when you have the game and you hold it. I managed to finally have confidence in my line. Once you have the confidence in your line then you just trust that the weight is going to come.
“It felt like I was letting them go with my finger-tips. It felt like being back at Burnside. I thought with adrenalin they were going to go heavy but we stuck in there.
“It is so hard to get to this point. It is so difficult just to make the final and I really wanted to make the most of the opportunity. It is just unreal.”
Bruce demonstrated unwavering resilience and unwavering precision. Throughout the competition she showcased her exceptional prowess on the greens. The final match was a test of both skill and nerves, with Tayla and Kelly locked in a race to 21 shots over 24 intense ends.
The opening seven ends saw both players adapting to the slick playing surface, reminiscent of Bruce's home conditions at the Canterbury-based Burnside Bowling Club. During this period, both players scored solitary points as they acclimated to the conditions.
Bruce, no stranger to fast greens, faced a moment of pressure as she found herself three points down on end seven. However, with composure and precision, she drew the shot with her last bowl, maintaining the pattern of single-point scores.
McKerihen, determined not to be outdone, scored on three consecutive ends, securing a crucial three shots on end 12 and taking an early four-shot lead in the match.
As the match progressed, Bruce held two shots on end 15, which could have levelled the score for the fifth time, but the Canadian drew with confidence, scoring one point and maintaining a three-shot lead. On the 16th end, Bruce responded with a precision draw shot of her own, securing a two and cutting the deficit to a single point.
On end 18, Bruce, trailing by two, executed an on-target weighted shot that dislodged Kelly's shot bowl, allowing her to hold two shots. She added a third with her last bowl, scoring a critical three points and taking the lead for the first time in eight ends.
The subsequent four ends witnessed both players trading blows, with Bruce taking a 19-18 lead, inching ever closer to the 21-shot target.
The kiwi displayed nerves of steel, opening with a back toucher on the 24th end, following with a second and third shot. The Canadian, in a last-ditch effort, attempted to dislodge Bruce’s bowls with weighted shots, but narrowly missed her target, allowing Bruce earn the two shots required to secure victory.
The final score of 21-18 marked a triumphant moment for Bruce, as she captured the gold medal in an unforgettable match.
It made for a double golden weekend after New Zealand won the Para Women’s Pairs world title on Saturday.
Week two of the championships begins on Tuesday with kiwis in action comprising Andrew Kelly in the men’s singles; Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (s), Lance Pascoe, Chris Le Lievre and Tony Grantham in the men’s fours; Katelyn Inch (s) and Selina Goddard in the women’s pairs and Val Smith (s), Tayla Bruce and Leeane Poulson in the women’s triples.
Section play will continue until quarterfinals and semifinals in pairs, triples and fours on Friday and finals for women’s pairs and men’s fours on Saturday. The men’s singles progresses with section play through to Friday with quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday and final on Sunday, along with the women’s triples.