Ready to roll
By GREG WHITE
PARK Beach Bowling Club members have their collective fingers crossed for fine weather this weekend.
The annual Alan Buchan Pairs tournament is a noted drought-breaker and event publicist Cory Daley said all eyes were on the heavens.
"We had a washout last year when the rain was torrential but we intend to go ahead unless something similar happens," he said.
With no play in 2006, defending champions Russell Berghoffer and Scott Hamilton have waited an extra 12 months to retain their crown.
Both players have seen their stars rise in the intervening period with Hamilton a recent prize signing for the Tamworth Redbacks in the New South Wales Premier League.
Huge prizemoney has seen nominations roll in from across the state.
"Sponsorship from Jayco, Crown Property Sales, Ocean Parade Motel, Beachlander Units and Tahitian Apartments means we have collected $4500, with $2000 going to the winning pair," Daley said.
"The list is full with 42 teams in action."
Played over two days, the format is four games of 21 ends with the championship determined by wins and margins.
"The timing is excellent with elite players using the Alan Buchan Pairs to tune up for the pennants and state fours," Daley said.
"The boys can iron out any kinks in their game before the season gets in full swing."
The bulging prize purse has attracted a hot field of candidates.
Along with the title-holders a strong composite team from Coffs Ex Services headed by state singles runner-up Kent 'Super' Price will take to the greens along with former event winners Ian Weldon and Alan McFadyen from Sawtell.
"Being the host club we didn't want to be left out so Park Beach has the Ken Howard Fours champions Phil Hall and Rod Farmer in the lineup," Daley said.
"The partnership will be on hold with Phil teaming up with state seniors representative Col Pritchard."
Another duo splitting their talents are club greenkeepers Rick Southam and Dave New who won a string of tournaments together in 2005-06.
New acquisition to the Park Beach stable Matt Miles will return from NSW junior representative duties to compete.
"With only four games to score points the teams have have to fire from the start," Daley said.
"You can't think just by winning four games you'll be in the running.
"Big margins win this title and that means skill and the occasional risky shot selection, particularly on Sunday when you get forced into a situation of having nothing to lose."
Play starts at Park Beach on both days at 9am.