World No 1 and defending champion Paul Foster was not at top form and struggled to get over the line in the first game of his title defence at the Co-operative Funeralcare International Open at Blackpool Newton Hall this morning. He made hard work of the game against Australian qualifier Des Cann but managed to hang in when the tussle went to a tie break to take the tie break 2-0. The first set Foster managed to take with a scoreline of 10-1 when the Aussie struggled to find his weight on the carpet but the Aussi turned up the heat in the second set and saw the World No1 off with a 11-1 score. But into the tie break and the defending champion knuckled down and crossed the line 2 sets to 1. “I really struggled to find my weight in the first set but was pleased with my second set when I managed to put it all together,” said Cann “But playing the World No1 was a fantastic experience and you know you have to be on top form. This has made me more than ever determined to return to the UK and play in the next WBT event”
The game of the day featured World Bowls Tour commentator David Corkill and ex Irish International Jonathan Ross. The game could have gone either way and kept a full crowd entertained and on the edge of their seats. Corkill would consider himself very unlucky throughout the contest and he was just edged out in both sets losing 9-4 6-5.
World No14 Mark Royal faced Hong Kong qualifiers Jordi Lo and played superb bowls all the game to leave the man from Hong Kong in his wake with a score line of 10-1 12-1.
David Gourlay made short work of ex Australian John Bezear showing his class and taking the first set at 10-2. The second set saw Bezear try and shake the World No5 Gourlay but it was not to be and Gourlay moves into the second round where he will face Mark Royal.
The evening games went the way of the seeds as well. Mervyn King seeing off Wild Card Neil Smith 9-4 11-2 and Jason Greenslade and Jason Greenslade beating off John Carswell in two straight sets 10,6 – 11,3
So day one here was the day of the seeds. No shock results but some fantastic bowling for the pack crowds.
Day two sees the two locals featured in the schedule. The first game of the day Cumbrian Ben Sherwen faces Andy Thomson MBE and the last game of the evening is local hero Mark Dawes who faces Commonwealth games Singles Gold medalist Darren Burnett.
Today’s results: Paul Foster MBE 10-1 1-11 2-0 Des Cann: Jonathan Ross 9-4 6-5 David Corkill: Mark Royal 10-1 12-1 Jordi Lo: David Gourlay 10-2 13-4 John Bezear: Merv King 9-4 11-2 Neil Smith: Jason Greenslade :John Carswell 10,6 – 11,3
Tomorrows games: 9.45 – Andy Thomson MBE v Ben Sherwen, Alex Marshall MBE v Robert Weale, 2pm – Greg Harlow v Charles Herbert, Nick Brett v Damien Doubler, 6pm – Wayne Hogg v Colin Walker, Darren Burnett v Mark Dawes.