Burnett bows out at Potters

IN his first match on the World Bowls Tour this season, Australian Mark McMahon pulled off an unexpected win when he beat recently-crowned International Open champion Darren Burnett in Thursday's second round of the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

IN his first match on the World Bowls Tour this season, Australian Mark McMahon pulled off an unexpected win when he beat recently-crowned International Open champion Darren Burnett in Thursday's second round of the Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championship at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

Australian McMahon, runner-up in the championship in 2004, had been forced to pull out of the three other WBT ranking events this season due to work commitments in his new role as Flight Manager for airline V-Australia.

Meanwhile qualifier Burnett, a policeman from Dundee, arrived in Hopton-on-Sea fresh from becoming only the second qualifier ever to win a WBT ranking event, the International Open, in December, in Burgess Hill.

Informed opinion suggested that the in-form Scot would extend his WBT run by beating McMahon, thus almost certainly ending the 14th seed's run in the world top 16.


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But the Brisbane-based 39-year-old romped to a 4-0 lead before Burnett replied, and held the advantage throughout the opening set. Burnett, however, rediscovered his form in the second set and raced to a 7-0 lead and held his nerve to force the match into a tie-break.

After sharing the first two ends, McMahon immediately lost the initiative in the decider when he delivered the jack too short - handing the advantage over to his opponent. But McMahon drew shot with his final delivery - and claimed his 9-6, 6-10, 2-1 victory when Burnett failed to change the status quo.

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McMahon conceded later that he'd not played competitive bowls since last July - but had practiced for five hours a day at his former club in Barking, Essex, on arrival in the country at the weekend.

When asked how he could explain his success against Burnett, McMahon said: "I think it's because I love the game and love being on the portable rink.

"I had nothing to lose; In my view, Darren was the favourite after his success in the International Open. But I felt it was a good draw for me. I just wanted to play well - and I'm happy I did that.

"I'm very competitive - but if I'd lost that game, I would have dropped out of the top 16. And if I stay in the top 16, I plan to play all the events next year," added the former Commonwealth Games silver medallist.

Was Darren Burnett disappointed with the outcome?

"'Disappointed' would be an understatement," responded the 32-year-old from Arbroath. "I didn't play well and never really felt comfortable out there. I had a great chance to win the first set when I was lying two and could have got a three!

"Mark played a huge bowl to win the match," added Burnett, whose 2008/09 WBT campaign is now over.

"At least I can look forward to playing in two events next season - the Worlds and the International Open, as defending champion - but breaking into the world top 16 is so hard!"

An equally dramatic clash took place in the afternoon when second-seeded Englishman Greg Harlow, the world No2 from Ely, was fully stretched by qualifier Jonathan Tomlinson before beating the Welshman 9-9, 7-5.

Harlow, a runner-up three years ago, scored a full-house four shots in the second end and went on to lead 9-6 with two ends of the first set to go. But his 26-year-old opponent pulled back two shots in the next end and scored a single in the final end to tie the set.

The lead changed three times in the second set before underdog Tomlinson held a one-shot advantage with two ends to go. But Harlow clinched a two in the eighth end to reclaim the lead.

In one of the most dramatic ends ever likely to be seen on the portable rink, the balance of power swung between a match win for Harlow, a match win for the Welshman, and a second tied set - before Harlow, at two shots down, delivered a wondrous bowl to go one up, leaving Tomlinson to make his final delivery.

A driving shot which Tomlinson was convinced was on target to restore his match-winning two-shot advantage missed by a hair's breadth - leaving the relived Harlow a 9-9, 7-5 winner.

"Towards the end of the second set, there were so many important bowls, it was difficult to highlight which were the big ones," exclaimed the world number two from Cambridgeshire.

I'm absolutely buzzing after that. But I feel for Jonathan, as he needs the break. He matched me bowl for bowl and was less than an eighth of an inch away from getting through.

"Despite the scoreline, I thought I started off well - but every shot he got, he won.

"It's as tough a game as I've had all this season - he'll certainly do some good in the future, without a doubt."

Again, Harlow expressed delight at the 20 ranking points he will now receive as a second round winner: "All the players agree - this is the most important game of the season!"

Tomlinson was finding it hard to believe that his final shot did not win him the match: "I still can't believe I missed it. But it was my first bowls that let me down - they weren't as good as I would have liked. But I made up for it with my second and third bowls.

"I was nervous for the first three ends - but I like that because it helps me concentrate," explained the Pontypool player.

"It's a bit demoralising to have to go back through qualifying - and start all over again from the beginning."

Earlier in the day, Scotland's three times world champion Paul Foster eased to a 9-4, 10-6 victory over New Zealand qualifier Denis Leeden and in the evening match England's Simon Skelton, the 16th seed, extended the successful second round run by the seeds by beating Irish qualifier Jeremy Henry 9-6, 6-7, 2-1.

RESULTS: World Indoor Singles Championship second round:

[14] Mark McMahon (AUS) bt [Q] Darren Burnett (SCO) 9-6, 6-10, 2-1

[5] Paul Foster (SCO) bt Denis Leeden (NZL) 9-4, 10-6

[2] Greg Harlow (ENG) bt [Q] Jonathan Tomlinson (WAL) 9-9, 7-5

[16] Simon Skelton (ENG) bt [Q] Jeremy Henry (IRE) 9-6, 6-7, 2-1

FIXTURES:

Friday (16 Jan) schedule:

9.30am

Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round:

Sarah Seymour (ENG) v Rosa Gandara (USA)

World Indoor Mixed Pairs Matchplay Championship, quarter-finals:

Ceri Ann Davies (SCO) & David Gourlay (AUS) v Carol Ashby & Mervyn King (ENG)

2.00pm

Lorraine Hitchcock (USA) & & Jason Greenslade (WAL) v Desiree Lambert (NZL) & Paul Foster (SCO)

World Indoor Singles Championship, 2nd round

[13] Les Gillett (ENG) v John Price (WAL)

7.30pm

Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round:

Julie Saunders (ENG) v Claire Johnston (SCO)

Saturday (17 Jan) schedule:

9.30am

World Indoor Mixed Pairs Matchplay Championship, quarter-finals:

Rosa Gandara (USA) & Greg Harlow (ENG) v Sarah Seymour & Mark Royal (ENG)

Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round:

Ellen Falkner (ENG) v Carmen Anderson (AUS)

2.00pm:

World Indoor Mixed Pairs Matchplay Championship, quarter-finals:

[2] Debbie Stavrou (ENG) & Alex Marshall (SCO) v Alison Merrien (GUE) & Andy Thomson (ENG)

World Indoor Singles Championship, 2nd round

[9] Ian Bond (ENG) v [Q] Stephen Tuohy (ENG)

7.30pm:

Ladies World Matchplay Championship, 1st round:

Lorraine Hitchcock (USA) v Alison Merrien (GUE)

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