Shannon McIlroy is determined to add to his burgeoning bowls legacy at the Summerset National Singles and Pairs, starting in Auckland tomorrow (January 2).
McIlroy is the man to beat in the men’s singles, having won the last two times he’s entered (2016 and 2018), as well as winning the 2016 world title and last year’s world champion of champion singles.
It is the national titles he believes he will be remembered for.
“It’s the event I look forward to the most and it’s another chance for me to add to what I’ve already won in the past and keep trying to improve and catch Gary Lawson’s record,” McIlroy said.
“Obviously he’s got 13 national titles. I’m only eight away from him.
“Given my youth and time that I have left playing the game at a high level I’ve got a good opportunity to make inroads towards guys with those kind of milestones.”
Shannon McIlroy is in a bullish mood ahead of section play.
“I think there are a lot of players out there that don’t like playing me in singles because of what I bring to the table. They sort of have this fear factor,” McIlroy said.
“It’s definitely a discipline that comes second nature to me. It’s something that I feel I naturally strive in.
“Even when I’m not playing that well, I seem to play some good stuff when it comes to singles.”
McIlroy believes singles is the ultimate mental game.
“You’ve got nowhere to hide. Everything’s on your own and you can’t rely on a team-mate to pull you out.”
Lawson is also a two-time national champion in the singles, but last won the title in 1994.
Winning a third straight pairs title is his priority, but he has got added motivation to perform in the individual discipline.
“I won my first New Zealand title in 1989 in Auckland…so it’d be quite a nice bit of coincidence if 30 years later I could win the same event in the same city,” Lawson said.
“I’ve got a really tough draw this year. I’ve got Rob Ashton, Chris Le Lievre and Finbar McGuigan…so if I get through section play I’ll be doing okay.”
Qualifying in the men’s singles starts tomorrow (January 2), with post-section play starting on January 5 before the final on January 8.
The Summerset National Singles and Pairs are being played at 16 clubs across Auckland and North Harbour (with six wet weather alternatives), with the finals at Carlton Cornwall Bowls.