New Zealand Blackjack Jo Edwards has progressed through to the semi-final of the prestigious 2019 Tweed Heads Golden Nugget, after topping her section in fine style on the Queensland greens.
The annual invitational tournament features some of the world’s top performing stars, recognised as a pinnacle event since 1986, with an honours board reading as the who’s who of bowls’ archives, past and present.
Hosted at the impressive Tweed Heads Bowling Club, 12 men and 12 women comprise this year’s field, as two sections of six in each respective field battle it out to advance to knockout play – with the top two from each section progressing to Thursday’s semi-finals (August 8, 11.30am NZT).
With commentators suggesting this year’s field is one of the strongest yet, it’s easy to agree when you see reigning commonwealth singles champions Edwards and Aaron Wilson, reigning outdoor singles champions in Shannon McIlroy and Karen Murphy, recently crowned Asia Pacific champions, international powerhouses such as Ryan Bester, Jeremy Henry, Gary Kelly, Siti Zalina Ahmad and a swag of Australian Jackaroos, Ben Twist, Lynsey Clarke, Natasha Scott, Bec Van Asch, Carla Krizanic, Aaron Teys, Aron Sherriff, Barrie Lester, Ray Pearse and last year’s women’s champion Kelsey Cottrell.
Following two days of section play, Edwards continued her purple patch of form, building on her recent Asia Pacific singles win to sweep her section unbeaten after five rounds.
In the men’s action, McIlroy, proved desperately unlucky to miss a place in the final four, with a last round clash opposite Bester requiring him to not only win, but to restrict the Canadian to no more than 18 shots.
However, despite McIlroy’s best attempt, Bester was in sensational form, romping past the required mark and rounding out the win 25-24 in an entertaining conclusion to the section.
Edwards, a four time winner of this event, is now looking to add her fifth Golden Nugget accolade to her collection of silverware, though standing in her way is the future of Australian bowls, Ellen Ryan, who has also enjoyed a stellar tournament thus far.
Other semi-finalists will see Scott go up against the formidable home favourite Chloe Stewart, both showing top form, with Stewart, along with Edwards, also remaining the only player unbeaten to this point across the entire event.
The men’s field will see Warilla prospect Teys go head-to-head with fellow club import Gary Kelly of Northern Ireland, while emerging Jackaroo Corey Wedlock will take on Bester in what is shaping up to be two epic clashes on the Tweed greens.
The semi-final action will resume this morning (August 8) from 11.30am NZT, followed by both men’s and women’s finals at 3.30pm (NZT).
Bowls Queensland will be live streaming the event on their Facebook page throughout the day.
FINALS’ FIXTURES AT A GLANCE
2019 Tweed Heads Golden Nugget Invitational Prestige Singles, Australian
Aaron Teys (NSW) v Gary Kelly (NIR)
Ryan Bester (CAN) v Corey Wedlock (NSW)
Jo Edwards (NZ) v Ellen Ryan (NSW)
Natasha Scott (NSW) v Chloe Stewart (QLD)