In only the second all-nation Men’s Singles Final in the 30-year history of the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic, Australian Barrie Lester defeated compatriot Matthew Baus to clinch the title at the Kowloon Bowling Green Club on Sunday Nov 4.
Consistency was key to winning the tournament according to Lester, who is a Community Development Officer with Bowls Australia.
“My consistency helped me to stay on top of the game and this is important when you are playing against top bowlers around the world,” said Lester, who is at the peak of his game at 30 years of age.
Played in front of more than 500 spectators and, in a first for Hong Kong, broadcast by NowTV cameras, Lester said that he enjoyed the Singles Final and the tournament as a whole.
“Matthew is a good friend of mine and it is nice to play with your good friend in the Final of such a major tournament,” said Lester. “The green runs well and the crowd is excellent. So this is a very happy day for me.”
Lester started the tournament in high spirits, defeating two local players before meeting Scottish international Robert Marshall in the Round 3. He got through easily with a score-line of 8:3, 12:2. He then moved on to beat two Asian bowlers, Ruptu Gogoi from India and Hommer Mercado from the Philippines to enter the Final.
Meanwhile, Baus faced an easier route in the competition, dispatching four local players before facing his first real challenge in the Semi-finals against Scottish international Iain McLean. It was a tight affair and Baus needed a tie-break to win the game.
In the Final, both Australians were really relaxed before the large crowd and TV cameras—they displayed the highest level of skill, with the spectators enjoying a close contest.
The score was 3:3 after the first two ends and, from that point on, tactically it was played with more caution rather than aggression from the two players. Lester finally rounded up the set 9:6.
In the second set, Baus played aggressively to try to come from behind. He quickly opened up a lead of 8:1 in the first five ends, but Lester kept drawing consistently to level things up at the eighth end. At the last end of the set, Baus drew a perfect shot with his last bowl to win the set.
Entering the tie-breaker, Lester was leading 2:1 after two ends. In the last end, Baus held two shots when Lester had only the last bowl to play. Lester displayed nerves of steel and highest level of concentration to trail the jack. He got the shot, finished the game and won the Men’s Singles 2012 title.
Coincidently, the last time when two players from the same country met in the Final was also by two Australians back in 1986, when Paul Richards beat Bob Fishlock.
In the Women’s Singles Final, England’s Sandy Hazell defeated Hong Kong’s Camilla Leung.
Claudius Lam is an Officer with the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association.