Former Urunga bowler Corey Wedlock will be aiming this week to improve on last year's runner-up finish at the Park Beach Open Singles.
Former Urunga bowler Corey Wedlock will be aiming this week to improve on last year's runner-up finish at the Park Beach Open Singles.

Young guns to renew rivalry

PARK Beach will be the venue this week where a bowls rivalry will reignite.

Young guns Mason Lewis and former Urunga bowler Corey Wedlock fought out last year’s final of the Park Beach Open Singles and they will return to Coffs Harbour as part of a crack field for the 2016 event which begins on Monday.

Lewis defeated Wedlock with a great display of draw bowling last year and said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure coming in as the defending champion.

“I am there to enjoy the event with a great field of bowlers,” Lewis said.

“It is one of the strongest singles tournaments in Australia, and there is an amazing set up at Park Beach. The greens were fabulous last year. In my opinion they are the best greens in Australia.”

Both he and Wedlock, who now plays for Cabramatta, are members of the Bowls Australia state based National Training Centre program, which is a feeder for the top tier Australian Jackaroos.

With ranking points up for grabs, the pair will be keen to perform well in the five day tournament.

They will have to be at their best to reach the final, with a strong field of 120 bowlers including the 2015 Bowls NSW Most Improved Male Player of the Year Chris Herden (St John’s Park), Rowan Brassey (Cabramatta), Ben Twist (St Johns Park), 2015 Bowls NSW Player of the Year Neil Burkett (Merrylands) and former UK international Stephen Halmai (South Tweed) all trying to win their share of the $32,400 in prizemoney.

Herden currently sits in second place behind Canadian Ryan Bester in the Bowls Australia Bowler of the Year competition while Brassey, who won the Park Beach Open Singles in 2005 and 2014, will be trying to put last year’s disappointing performance behind him.

“I feel fitter and better for this year’s tournament but last year’s finalists Mason Lewis and Corey Wedlock will be very hard to beat” Brassey said.

Burkett won the event in 2010 and narrowly missed a spot in the semi finals last year.

Former Australian player Shane Garvey will again travel north and take the opportunity to catch up with the man he describes as his greatest influence in bowls, Sam Laguzza, who won the event in 2003 and has reached the semi finals four times since the event started in 2002.

“Park Beach is one one of the best singles events going around,” Garvey said.

“The greens are first class and the tournament is well organised.

“Players I believe are the biggest chance to win the event in 2016 would be the young ones, Corey Wedlock, Zel Tzbara and Ben Twist.

“Obviously, some of the tried and proven players like Rowan Brassey and Ian Taylor will be hard to beat and I like to think I might give it a shake as well.”

A strong line up of local bowlers, including former state player and 2015 MNC Champion of Club Champions Cory Daley (Park Beach), 2014 Zone 14 Bowler of the Year Hagop Aladjadjian (Scotts Head), Greg Brims (North Haven) John Hrabak (Port City) and Paul T Clarke, Quinton Dalrymple and Phil Brown from Sawtell will be trying to get their names on the event’s honour board.

“Winning the Park Beach Open Singles is number one on my bucket list and is my biggest motivation to keep improving my game” Daley said.

“Hopefully some local knowledge should give me an edge on the big guns.

“I think the two players with the strongest claims this year are Ben Twist and former Urunga junior star Corey Wedlock. I can’t wait for it to begin.”

Having performed well in last year’s event, twins Samantha and Natalie Noronha will also return to Park Beach for the Open Singles.

“I definitely enjoy playing bowls at Park Beach” Samantha said.

“The greens run beautifully, it is a well run event, it is a great location and everybody involved makes us feel welcome.”

Sectional play begins at 9am on Monday with the final scheduled for 2pm on Friday.

Spectators are welcome, and entry is free.

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