11 November, 2017
The final line up for the Co op Funeralcare Scottish International Open 2017 featured Co Op Funeralcare’s Wild card, Elgin’s, Michael Stepney and Scotland’s Commonwealth Game Head Coach David Gourlay. Two sets of eleven ends to decide the Champion here at the Dewars Centre in Perth and it was Gourlay who lifted the trophy 4.9 7.11. “I cant believe it,” said a delighted Gourlay, “You just have to keep going against a player like Michael as you know he can always come up with a big bowl which will change everything.” Michael Stepney may stand now in the provisional top sixteen and shouldn’t be disappointed in the way he played, “I just met David at his formidable best, a couple of unlucky bowls didn’t help me in the first set but David was outstanding,” added Stepney after the final.
The opening end of the first set went to Gourlay, who picked up a single shot. End two and Stepney held two shots, a Gourlay runner is unlucky and its still two shots to Stepney with plenty of room for Stepney to draw for three, he misses the chance and takes only two shots. Its a last bowl draw that holds shot for Stepney on end three, Gourlay drives but its still one to Stepney. The score 3.1 to Stepney. Gourlay draws two shots close at the next end but Stepney strikes and opens the end up, jack is placed on the re spot, Gourlay draws again, Stepney gets the bowl solid, Gourlay strikes and misses. Stepney 4.1. Two great opening deliveries from Stepney at end five, we see a runner from Gourlay and the end is opened up, Stepney draws close to the re spotted jack but Gourlay beats it. 4.2 the score. End six and it was a measure for second bowl, But it was just the one shot to Gourlay. End seven and after a Stepney runner Gourlay picked up two shots and went into end eight 5.4 ahead. A couple of huge runners from Stepney but Gourlay holding two with one bowl left for Stepney. Stepney gets one away with his final delivery but Gourlay still takes one shot. Gourlay held three at end nine, Stepney draws for second, Gourlay takes one shot. 7.4 to Gourlay. Stepney strikes at end ten but the jack rebounds up the rink to Gourlay’s short delivery. Gourlay four shots up at the final end of set one. It was all immaterial at the last end, a four virtually impossible for Stepney to score and the first set went to Gourlay 9.4.
The opening end of the second set and its Gourlay again who takes charge, two shots Gourlay. Gourlay now on fire and bowl after bowl Gourlay puts the pressure on Stepney. End two and its another two to Gourlay. End three again Gourlay puts the pressure on with his consistency, bowl after bowl close, grinding the ends of the set down and grinding down his opponents chances. Stepney puts the jack in the ditch and picks up a two to keep his chances alive. Stepney holds two shots at end four with Gourlay one delivery remaining, a Gourlay runner and one is taken out, one shot Stepney. Score 4.3 to Gourlay. Bowl for bowl and fighting hard Stepney draws shot at end five, Gourlay tips the jack but runs through, a Gourlay runner and an unbelievable result, Jack on re spot and its three to Gourlay. Sometimes you feel fate is intervening in games, and Gourlay is not only on fire but is also getting the best of any fortune. End six and Gourlay piles on even more pressure, two shots Gourlay. 9.3 Gourlay. Its just monotonous blow after blow from Gourlay and the ends are ticking away from Stepney. Even at the last end when Stepney held one shot to take us into a final eleventh end he stood watching only to see Gourlay draw with his last bowl the perfect bowl and take the title.
The presentation party included John Williamson, Head of Operations for Scotland & Northern Ireland Co op Funeralcare.