2016 World Bowls Blog
Women: Michele Arculli, Janice Bell, Candy DeFazio, Kim Heiser, Anne Nunes
Women’s Coach: Deanna Amos
Men: Phil Dunn, James Flower, Charlie Herbert, Scott Roberts, Aaron Zangl
Men’s Coach: Barry Ward
Mon - 12/12/16 - 9:30AM + NZST - Scott Roberts - FINAL ENTRY
In the Christchurch airport waiting for my flight home. It’s been a fun trip with great results all-around. Between our finishes here, Asia-Pacific, Tiger Bowls, and Indoor Cup the last couple years, the USA is opening some eyes around the world and it is special to be a part of that.
The overall Women’s Champion was Australia, as was in the Asia Pacific Games. The overall Men’s Champion was New Zealand which game down to the last event, as it did in the Asia Pacific Games. Here are the results by country:
Australia: Gold - 4, Silver - 2, Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 8
New Zealand: Gold - 2, Silver - 1, Bronze - 4, Playoffs - 7
England: Gold - 1, Silver - 1, Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 3
Wales: Gold - 1, Silver - 1, Playoffs - 4
Scotland: Silver - 1, Bronze - 4, Playoffs - 8
Ireland: Silver - 1, Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 3
Canada: Silver - 1, Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 2
Malaysia: Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 5
Japan: Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 1
South Africa: Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 1
Philippines: Bronze - 1, Playoffs - 1
Norfolk Island: Playoffs - 1
USA - Playoffs - 1
Other countries: Brunei, China, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Fiji, Guernsey, Hong Kong China, India, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kenya, Macao, Namibia, Netherlands, Niue, Samoa, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and Zimbabwe
Fri - 12/9/16 - 8:30 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
US Men’s Fours vs. the defending World Bowls Champion Australia team. The women’s team along with all of the friends are out to watch us, and Phil and Barry are present, as always. The weather is overcast and goes from a light breeze to a heavy wind during the match, with the occasional, but typical strong gusts. The green is incredibly fast, likely 18 seconds and perhaps 19. Anne is on Facebook providing updates every couple ends which is kind to keep everyone at home in the loop in real time.
The Australians are finding it early and the heads are tight under the early light wind conditions. They jump out to an early lead and it is 4-12 at the halfway mark. On the ninth end everyone plays well and we get a four to cut it 8-12. We try a different length and get another one to cut it to 9-12. We are holding three on the twelfth end, when the Australian skip, Mark “Hammer” Casey draws a back toucher with his first bowl and adds to it with his second. That would be the closest the US team would get and Australia cruises to a 12-21 victory. Australia goes on to rout Ireland 22-10 in the semi-final match and they will play the finals against the incredibly tough New Zealand team, who crushed Scotland in their semi-final, 20-3.
We are disappointed to lose, but pleased with our results and the way that we played in the final, and the entire tournament. Barry let’s us know how far we’ve come and how well we have played these very difficult and very different conditions from what we are used to. I’ve done my best to put it into words here, but there are no easy draws in this game, at this pace, in these conditions.
The finals are expected to be live streamed on Saturday and Sunday: https://livestream.com/i-filmsport/WorldBowlsChamps2016
I’ll have a final wrap-up of all of the totals and our last couple days in Christchurch when they are all done.
Th - 12/8/16 - 10:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
The men and women are both at Burnside, so we are all together for once and each of our greens are within sight. Both teams have a chance to make the playoffs at the start of the day. The ladies need two wins while the men need all three wins and some help.
Anne, Janice and Candy begin with one of the teams they are tied with, Canada. The game starts close but Canada begins to pull away late. However, this is the year of the American comebacks and the ladies win the last two ends and manage an 18-18 tie. This keeps them in the hunt, but they need to win the next one against a very good Wales team.
Meanwhile, Charlie, James, Scott and Aaron play a newly-confident Israeli team that is tied with the US at 3-3 with two straight wins over Brunei and Canada. Israel’s lead is playing great and their skip is making some questionable drives, but getting paid off. They start out with a 2-9 lead after 6 ends. Again with the comeback by the Americans and they win several ends in a row and close the gap to 8-9 and hold one in the 11th end, but the Israeli skip drives it out clean and they pick up a 5. 8-14 with six ends left. The Americans are determined and get a 3 on the next end and a 4 on the end after that just like that the US has the lead 15-14 with four to go. The US team cruises down the end and Israel doesn’t win another end. Final score, 20-14, and the men are 4-3. Meanwhile, Scotland beats Wales by one 16-15 to keep them at 4 wins. Side note here: The South African vice was caught snickering at the US team for losing 4-45 to New Zealand yesterday. South Africa loses to New Zealand 4-36 and they are stuck at four wins. Snicker at that… The US men’s team hopes are still alive but they need to win the last two.
After lunch, the ladies play Wales. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go their way and they drop it 10-22. They can still make the playoffs, but they need to beat Fiji in the last game and hope that Isle of Man can beat Scotland, which will be a tall order.
The men have a very tough Hong Kong team to play next. The US gets up to a 2-0 lead after two ends. They end up hanging onto a slim lead the entire game and win a hard fought game 17-12 with everyone playing good bowls. Canada manages a tie with Wales which knocks them out of contention. South Africa gets a minor scare from Israel, but they hang on to win by 10. 3rd place will be either the US or South Africa. The US must beat a tough Fiji team and have Hong Kong beat South Africa, or the US must beat Fiji by 21 more than South Africa beats Hong Kong.
Anne, Janice and Candy play Fiji last and the Fijians get up to an early lead. Once again, the American battle back and get it to within two with one end to go. With the jack in the ditch and holding two, Anne draws the plinth to make it three and a chance to win in sight. The Fijian skip drives with her last and manages to knock out one bowl and the game is a tie, the second for the American women today, both in come-from-behind fashion. They finish with 4 wins, 2 ties and 3 losses and finish in 6th place.
Last chance for an American team to make the playoffs is the Men’s Fours. Fiji’s front end ham-and-eggs it well and they trade ends with the Americans, keeping it close. Each team seems to win two ends in a row to tie the game and then take the lead. After 11 ends, the score is 14-14. Key bowls by every member of the US team, but winning by 21 more than South Africa is out of the question. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and South Africa are playing a similar game and are switching between leads and ties on their rink and they are one end ahead of the American game. Each player on the team plays a stunning bowl in the next four ends. Aaron with a toucher and draw bowl a foot behind in one end. Scott with a drag of the jack to go three up. James to dead draw the jack when down 3. Charlie to draw two to a naked jack. These efforts help the Americans pull away and take a 6-point lead with two to go. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong vice, down four, drags the jack for a 3 to tie the game with one end to go in their game. In the 17th end, the Fijian lead is long and narrow but he drags the jack with him and leaves it a foot from the ditch. Scott’s first bowl just falls in, but his second is two feet away and is good for third shot. James’ second bowl is a brilliant draw around three bowls for a side toucher. The Fijians start driving and take many bowls out, but Scott and James bowls hang on and the Americans are up 8 going home. Aaron, Scott and James throw stunning bowls in the last end and a Fijian drive takes one out, but goes out of bounds, so the Americans clinch the victory. Meanwhile, South Africa drives the jack into the ditch to hold two. With his last bowl, the Hong Kong skip drives both bowls out and his bowl miraculously stays up six inches from the ditch for shot. Charlie is rolling his first bowl, but hardly anyone notices. The South African skip, who couldn’t miss against the Americans is lining up a drive to take the Hong Kong skip’s bowl out to win the match and get the playoff spot. I can’t see it but I hear the thud of his bowl hitting clean against the bank. Hong Kong wins and amazingly, USA is in the playoffs. Charlie throws his last bowl in and the Americans get a 4 on the last end to win 27-15. US team finishes 6-3 and in third place.
We all go up to the bar to hear the draw. The winners of each section get a spot in the semi-finals. The second and third place teams of each section go into a random draw to see who plays each other. At the time of the draw, I know that New Zealand won our group and Scotland got second, but I have no idea of the other section results. I’m sitting next to Deanna Amos, the women’s coach. The first team drawn is Scotland. We’ve beat them, but we really don’t want to try to do that a second time. Next team drawn is England, so they play Scotland in one quarter-final. Next team drawn is USA. So who do we get? The defending World Bowls Men’s Fours champions, Australia. 9AM local time tomorrow USA vs. Australia for a guaranteed medal and a spot in the semi-finals against Ireland. We beat Scotland and have run off four straight. Can we beat Australia too? We’ll see...
TEAM USA SECTIONAL RESULTS
Men’s Singles - None
Women’s Pairs - None
Women’s Triples - Anne, Janice & Candy - 6th place
Men’s Fours - Charlie, James, Scott & Aaron - 3rd place
Men’s Singles - Canada and New Zealand 1st; Australia, Malaysia, Scotland and Wales qualified
Women’s Pairs - New Zealand and Wales 1st; Australia, England, Malaysia and Scotland qualified
Women’s Triples - Australia and Malaysia 1st; England, Scotland, South Africa and Wales qualified
Men’s Fours - Ireland and New Zealand 1st; Australia, England, Scotland and USA qualified
Wed - 12/7/16 - 10:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Anne, Janice and Candy start the day with the top-rated Australia team and drop it 9-32. Australia is currently 6-0 and the closest anyone has gotten to them is 9 and their average margin of victory is 22 so this is about average for that team. The ladies rebound with a big win against Zimbabwe 25-19 to go back to 3-2. They follow it up with another win Brunei, 18-11. This puts the Women’s Triples US team at 4-2 +1 which is good enough for 3rd place. Canada and Wales also are 4-2 and in 2nd and 4th. Team USA plays both of them tomorrow and finish with Fiji who is in fifth. Three wins will put them through for sure and two wins may be enough as well. Lots of reasons to be proud of the US Women’s Triples team!
Charlie, James, Scott and Aaron easily have the most memorable day in US Men’s Fours history. It begins with a hard fought game against Brunei. The US front end is regularly holding at least 2 and usually 3, but the Brunei skip gets a fortunate rub or a great draw or more likely a fortunate result on a drive to keep the game close. The US team prevails in the end, 17-10.
Next up is one of the two undefeated teams, New Zealand. Three close ends to begin, but New Zealand takes two of them, 1-3 after three ends. The fourth end sees Aaron with two close ones, Scott with two closer ones, including a front toucher. A couple New Zealand drives later and all of three of the bowls are gone and the jack is in the ditch. The New Zealand skip adds two more draws to the ditch which the US can’t answer and New Zealand gets a 7. 1-10 after 4. US rebounds with a toucher by James that holds up. 2-10. New Zealand’s front end plays brilliant and the US can’t answer in the next three ends and they get 4, 2 and 2 in the next three ends and it is now 2-17 after eight. James has two brilliant bowls in the next end that hold up and it goes to 4-17 at the halfway point. We rally amongst ourselves and say, let’s just try to keep playing well and put bowls in the head and get ready for the next game. Despite this, and good bowls by all, this is the last end that the US wins. Despite brilliant bowls by everyone on the US team, New Zealand has an answer. Every time we think: “This is the one”, the Kiwi skip or vice has an answer. The scoreboard only goes to 39, so they just reset it to zeroes. The final tally is 4-45. A humiliating loss that is difficult to take. We didn’t play bad, but they played brilliant and played to win and played to get a score every end and succeeded with everything.
Only 15 minutes to rest and it is on to the best Men’s Fours team in the world and the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal team, Scotland. After a 41-point loss, it’s a bit sobering, but we are determined to bowl our best.
Aaron is lights out with the jack and bowls early. James is also on and the US take the first two ends, up 2-0. More good bowls by Aaron, James and Charlie and the US gets a three to better their score from the previous game and run the score to 5-0. Scott and James have touchers in the next end and it goes to 7-0 after four ends. Charlie draws shot with his last in the fifth and it is 8-0, USA. The Scottish front end plays well in the next end and the US can’t answer, dropping a 3. Scott draws shot that holds in the next end and it is 9-3 after 7 ends. Despite good bowls by the US, Alex Marshall makes a great drive and Scotland gets a three. 9-6 after 8 ends. James and Charlie bowl brilliant in the ninth end and hang on to one. 10-6 at the halfway point. The teams trade twos the next couple ends and it is 12-8 after 11. Another one for the US in the twelfth, 13-8. Scotland gets a three in the next end and a one the end after. 13-12 with four ends to go. Scotland holds three in the 15th end before Charlie draws shot with his last. 14-12 and three ends to go. The 16th is a brilliant end by all players on both teams and the holding team changes 4 times. Alex tries to drive four bowls with his last to get a five, but only gets three out. One more for the US, 15-12 with two to go. Everyone draws one close in the 17th, but Alex plays a weighted shot and tries to get multiple shots, but only gets one. Going home and US leads 15-13. All of the ends have been short, except one so far, but the Scottish decides to go long on the last. The Scottish lead draws a front toucher with his first. Aaron is equal to him and pushes his bowl to the side but Scotland still holds. Their lead draws a second around Aaron’s bowl to hold two. Aaron just misses but gets to the T. The Scottish second is narrow with his first. Scott’s first is in the ditch ($#&!). The Scot’s second bowl is around the back. Scott’s second gently hits Aaron’s bowl on the running surface into the jack and it wedges between the Scottish lead’s first two bowls and holds shot while it trails into the head as well. The Scottish team takes five minutes to decide what they are going to do, debating several options. They decide to try to pump up one of their leads bowls. The first bowl Paul Foster goes with ditch weight and misses. James puts a bowl on the other side of the head to protect. With his second, Paul takes weight off and hits the head which turns it over, but only for one. James tries to draw one to the Scottish catcher but hits the front of the head. Only the skips’ two bowls remain. Alex tries to push their bowl up into the jack and spring it to the side. With his first he’s narrow. Charlie attempts to cover the space between the two bowls and succeeds. Alex can’t have it move the jack across as before and get two, but he can still move it gently and get two. Last bowl is away… and on target with the right weight, he just misses the bowl he wants directly but hits it with another bowl.. The bowl moves into the jack… the jack goes into the Scottish catcher if it stays there or hits the far side of the catcher, they will hold two, it hits the near side and goes sideways one inch in the direction of Aaron’s waiting first bowl that was pumped in by Scott. Scotland gets one, but USA has shocked the world knocking off the best fours team in the world, 15-14. This would be amazing in itself, but doing it after a 41-point defeat the game before is pretty incredible. The Scottish team shakes hands quickly and are in the parking lot in record time.
The US team goes 2-1 for the day and sits at 3-3 for the tournament, but with horrific plus points, which puts them in 7th place. However, the US plays very beatable Israel and Fiji tomorrow with a game against Hong Kong in the middle. A 3-0 day, a Hong Kong defeat of South Africa, and New Zealand and Scotland holding form will put the US in third place in the group and a playoff spot.
Time for some well-earned sleep and (at least) one more day of bowling.
Tu - 12/6/16 - 9:30 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
The wi-fi is out again in the house so I’m using my cellular data for this entry.
Anne, Janice and Candy start off the day with a very tough Scotland team. The game is close but they drop it 13-17. They rebound with a trouncing over the Isle of Man team 28-15. Their third game is against the very tough team from Ireland which they win 19-17. I hope to get some details from them women when I see them next. This gives them a strong 2-1 start against tough competition and puts them in a tie for 3rd place with Brunei with both having 11 plus points. Another very tough day tomorrow for the ladies as they face the first place Australia team, then Zimbabwe and then the Brunei team. Another two wins will keep them in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Charlie, James, Scott and Aaron start the day against Canada. The same Canadians who beat the triples team by 8 and now have Asia-Pacific Pairs gold medalist from last year Steven Santana added to them. The teams trade the first few ends, but then the American front end really takes over and stakes the US out to a 12-3 lead. They continue to pour it on and out play the Canadians, but the Canadian skip is making one conversion after another, sometimes with the drive and sometimes with a draw. They keep getting ones and a two and battle back to get it to 12-12 with six to go. The American front end has an incredible end again followed by James and Charlie each getting one in the count and playing precise bowls and the Canadian skip can’t answer. The US gets ten points in the next five ends, before yielding a one in the last end and win it 22-13. That felt good to get that.
The next game is against South Africa and the American front end is again pouring it on and outplaying the South Africans. James is also playing stellar bowls and Charlie is protecting and adding where appropriate, but the South African skip almost exclusively drives and keeps getting paid off. The US goes down 8-3, then 10-3, then 12-3, then 13-3. Every end is nearly the same story: US holding a couple and has good position, then a drive from the South African vice misses or only cuts down and then the skip makes it. He finally begins to only cut down and the Americans are inching back into it. 13-5, 13-7, 13-8, 13-9 with three to go. Two great draws from the South Afircan skip wins the 16th end. 15-9, with two to go. The Americans are holding two and another drive, by the vice this time pays off. James answers and Charlie has a chance to take the jack to get four and just misses, but the US gets one. 15-10 going home. Another well-built head in the last end. Americans holding three with a chance for Charlie to drag the jack a foot to get five. He just misses, but gets a fourth shot in. The South African skip tries to cut it down, and now he finally misses. Still the US loses a tough one 14-15. One fewer weighted shot that hits for the South African team and the US wins it. It’s more frustrating to see the South African skip miss everything he tries in the next game against Brunei, including throwing a wrong bias at one point. That’s bowls. We usually finish well within the three hours, but the fours won’t be that way. The morning game takes 3:05 and the second game takes 3:20, leaving us only ten minutes to get ready for the next game against Wales.
The Welsh front end is dominant and has a toucher nearly every end, and always has a couple within a mat length. James and Charlie make key drives early to keep the game close early even staking the US out to a 5-4 lead at one point. However, the Welsh are just too consistent throughout and keep winning ends and playing their length and hitting the jack. Rinse, repeat. The net result is a 10-23 loss.
The men hope for a 3-0 start against these mid-pack teams, but end up only 1-2 and in 6th place. They still have the top three teams of the section to play (New Zealand, Scotland and Hong Kong) and the bottom three (Israel, Fiji and Brunei), so cleaning up everyone in the middle would have helped. Now they will have to beat two of the top teams to get into the playoffs, as 6-3 has been the cutoff line so far. Tomorrow sees games against two of them: New Zealand and Scotland, with Brunei to start the day.
Mon - 12/5/16 - 5:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
The women were given two well-deserved days off on Friday and Saturday before going for a practice session Sunday and again today. The men took one day off and had a practice game against Brunei at a different club, Parksdale, on Sunday. We also were with the women having a brief practice today at Elmwood against the other team they are hosting, Ireland.
On Friday night, the guys tried to get a reservation at a Mexican restaurant to take me out for my birthday, but we couldn’t get one and instead invited the women over for pizza. It was nice to spend some time catching up with the ladies as we have been fairly separated during the couple weeks. For the initial two days, during the first disciplines, the Women’s Fours were at one location, the Men’s Triples at another and the Men’s Pairs and Women’s Singles at a third. The final day of qualifying saw the Women all together with the Men’s Pairs while the Men’s Triples were separated. With three 3-hours games, with brief breaks in between, it makes for a long day. Last year, we would all try to circle up again after our second game of the day at the Burnside club and talk about our days.
For example, Kim relayed a story from her singles match against Wales. She draws what she thinks is the match winning shot with a drag of the jack as she is going with it, but the jack rubs onto the furthest of a pair of her opponent’s back bowls and then literally wedges between the two and instead she is two down and drops the match. Heartbreaking.
Last year, there was a BBQ for all of the players on this day with gifts for the host clubs, World Bowls, and event organizers that were passed out. This year, they had a separate event just for handing out the gifts and only two members for each country were invited. Our managers, Brenda and Barry, attended and then joined us afterwards, but they were only given appetizers despite a three-hour event that started at 6PM, so they were happy that we still had leftovers.
In talking to some of the other teams, they are amazed that Team USA players are paying our own way here. We are appreciative to Bowls USA providing our uniform and pins to hand out to our opponents. We just don’t have the numbers that some of these other bowling organizations have. Some of them have their clubs paying for them and many have their country’s government providing funding. David Allen, the editor of Inside Bowls, told me that after winning a bronze medal at the recent Champion of Champions event in Australia, the King of Brunei had a private plane fly him back to the country specifically to congratulate him and then fly him back here to New Zealand. Their whole country only has 45 bowlers, men and women combined. Australia has literally millions of players. Turkey has about ten. It’s just interesting to hear everyone’s stories and what their expectations are about bowls in the US. Some are surprised that the US even plays lawn bowling.
Back on the greens, the finals for all of the initial disciplines saw Australia win handily in everything except Men’s Triples that they lost to England on an extra end.
Tomorrow we start the second set of disciplines. Team USA missed qualifying in the Women’s Pairs and Men’s Singles at Asia Pacific last year, so we will only be participating in the Women’s Triples (Anne, Janice and Candy) and Men’s Fours (Charlie, James, Scott and Aaron).
The women will play at Fendalton the first day, Centre the second, and finish at Burnside. The men will start at Burnside, then go to Papanui and finish at Burnside, so we will all be together on the last day of qualifying.
The women are seeded eighth and have a tough start to to qualifying as tomorrow they will play Scotland (3), Isle of Man(9) and finish with the top-seeded team from Ireland. Getting two wins will get them off to a great start in qualifying.
The men are seeded fifth and start with our neighbors to the north, Canada(9), followed by games against South Africa(6) and Wales(4). Winning all three is very doable, and almost a must in order to make the playoffs.
I’ll be on tomorrow night and every night during the qualifying to give the inside scoop.
Fri - 12/2/16 - 12:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
A brief interlude before getting to the Men’s Triples final day. Malaysia was our nemesis last year. The men played them in triples and twice in fours with US winning in triples and losing both in fours. Winning one of those fours games would have gotten us a medal. The US ladies were here for 10 days prior getting practice in while most of the men were here for 5 days. The Malaysians have been here for 5 weeks getting ready. We want this badly.
James, Scott and Phil give away the mat and give up 3 in the first two ends. James is critical drawing second shot on the first end to save four shots and keep us in it. Scott gets shot in the third to close the gap and now we can get to our short distance. Phil gets the jack right and gets close, but Malaysia’s lead gets closer. Scott draws two within four inches and James protects the head and it’s tied. The US team goes on a tear running the score up to 11-3, before giving up a two on the seventh. 11-5 after seven ends. James gets another critical draw to within a foot to get shot and get the mat back on the eighth. Another streak of four ends and the US is up 15-5 after eleven. Malaysia is clamping down on the heads and it’s all the Americans can do to cut it down. 15-7, 15-8, 15-10, 15-11 with three to go. A strong end by the Americans in the 16th gets a two and it’s 17-11 with two to go. The next two ends see the Americans get bowls in the head that the Malaysians can score on but not get big numbers. Revenge is sweet and a 17-14 victory to start the day.
Next up is Jersey who is in fourth and expecting to win and get in position for the playoffs. The wind picks up and they don’t seem to be taking it seriously. We’re riding high and get off to a big lead 6-1 after four and they know they are in for a game. Ends are traded but Jersey never gets closer than five and with three ends to go the Americans are up 13-7 and holding three that is well-protected with the T and best back. With his last bowl the Jersey skip drives and is way offline but it hits off one of their own bowls which carooms into the head. When the smoke clears, Jersey gets two and closes it to 13-9. Jersey lead draws his first bowl within two inches that the US gets close to but play conservative content to give the one up. 13-10 with one to go. Bit of a loose start by both teams, but Scott draws his last jack high and with eight inches. The Jersey skip misses driving it out with his first. James tries to get another in with his first and is a little heavy through the head. The Jersey skip drives Scott’s out and they are now holding four. James has his last bowl to draw within a yard to win the match. His weight is perfect but a gust of wind blows his bowl sideways and it gets hung up on one of Jersey’s counters. It’s one for sure and two measures for Jersey. The second one is in, but not the third. US pulls the upset and wins it 13-12.
Next up is a very tough Ireland team, but can the US finish a perfect day? After a 3-14 start after nine ends it appears not. At the halfway point, we rally and say let’s just win the second half. Brilliant bowls by everyone and the Americans win the next six ends and close the gap to 10-14 with four to play. The Irish lead and vice draw touchers to get two on the fifteenth end and it is 10-16 with three left. The Irish skip makes a brilliant drag of the jack on the 16th end to get three and James just misses it but cuts it to two. 10-18 with two left. Seventh end sees another great drag of the jack by the skip to hold one. With four seconds, James can play a bending weighted shot through traffic to get four. He just misses. 10-19 with one to go and the match in hand. Down two within a foot on the last end James calls for a drive from Scott with his first. It’s on the money and the jack hits Phil’s bowl on the T then back to Scott’s bowl then back to Phil’s and it stays in bounds two feet from the ditch and two feet from out of bounds. Irish vice is very narrow. Scott draws a perfect back toucher with his second and that holds up, but it is a 11-19 loss. However, a gutty 2-1 last day to finish at 4-5. This is a tie with Jersey for fifth, but the points tie-breaker isn’t close and they settle for 6th place. All of the American wins are narrow: Samoa by 7, Namibia by 2, Malaysia by 3 and Jersey by 1.
Quarter-finals for all disciplines are underway now. Semi-finals take place this afternoon. Finals are broken up to be on Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon and will be televised and live streamed. Monday will be a day off for everyone. For the non-qualifiers, this amounts to 4 days off. The next set of disciplines that Team USA will appear in will be the Women’s Triples and Men’s Fours.
TEAM USA SECTIONAL RESULTS
Women’s Singles - Kim - 6th place
Men’s Pairs - Charlie & Aaron - 5th place
Men’s Triples - James, Scott & Phil - 6th place
Women’s Fours - Anne, Janice, Michele & Candy - 4th place
Women’s Singles - Canada and Scotland 1st; Australia, Malaysia, Norfolk Island and New Zealand qualified
Men’s Pairs - Australia and New Zealand 1st; England, Ireland, Malaysia and Scotland qualified
Men’s Triples - England and New Zealand 1st; Australia, Ireland, Japan and Scotland qualified
Women’s Fours - England and New Zealand 1st; Australia, Philippines, Scotland and Wales qualifies
Fri - 12/2/16 - 9:00 AM + NZST - Scott Roberts
The round robin for the initial disciplines are completed. No frogs or locusts or rain, but a mild wind started in the morning and increased as the day went on, but was nowhere near its levels of a couple days ago. Let’s start with the playoff contenders from yesterday.
Anne, Janice, Michele and Candy start the day knowing they have their destiny in their hands with their three games. They start the day with the incredibly tough Scotland team and drop it 11-22. They rebound with a hard-fought close win over Israel, 20-17. This sets up a win-and-you’re-in game against Philippines. They get up to a good start, 5-4 on the 7th end. They lose the next two ends and are down 5-9 after nine ends. Team USA wins the next two ends to get back to 7-9 after eleven ends. They split the next two ends and they are down 8-10 after thirteen ends. A two on the fourteenth end ties it up at 10-10. Time is running out and they might not get 18 ends in. Philippines gets a 5 on the fifteenth end. They drop the sixteenth end also and in the middle of the seventeenth end the 10-minute warning sounds. They drop a two and are down 10-18 but get the jack thrown to be able to play the last, but they need a perfect 8 to win. They get one on the last and lose 11-18, but a great run and a fourth place finish with a 5-4 record in the group.
Charlie and Aaron also start the day knowing that three wins will get them in. They start with the very tough section-leading Malaysia team and drop it 8-30. The big loss hurts their tie-breaker chances, but two big wins can still get them in. They rebound with a win from Israel 22-16, but it is not enough points to have a real chance to make the playoffs. They finish strong but lose the last game to Ireland, 13-18. They finish 5-4 in sectional play, good enough for 5th place.
Kim starts her day with a 21-14 win over Cyprus. Her second is a tough but hard-fought loss to Wales, 18-21. Her last game is against the section leader from Canada who needs to win to clinch the section and Kim hoping to play spoiler. She gets off to a strong start and the game is knotted at 12, but ends up losing 15-21. A strong finish for her and a great tournament. She finished 3-6 and in 6th place in sectional play.
Wed - 11/30/16 - 10:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Day 2 of 3 for the initial discipline round robin sees little to no wind, which is great, but the weather is overcast and cold and it rains on and off during the day. At the end of the day, Team USA goes 6-6 for the day again to end up 12-12 overall with two of the teams having great chances to make the playoffs. Let’s start with them…
Anne, Janice, Michele and Candy start with a nailbiter win over Norfolk Island 21-20 and another win over Japan 26-12, before falling to Spain 11-25. This puts them in 5th place at 4-2. However, England leads their group at 6-0, while Scotland, Philippines and Spain are all also 4-2. Team USA plays Scotland and the Philippines tomorrow along with Israel. With three wins they will make the playoffs. With two wins with big margins and a little help they will make it as well.
Charlie and Aaron start with a close win over Guernsey 14-12. They fall to New Zealand 10-24 and then get a big win over Norfolk Island 16-9. This puts them in 4th place at 4-2, behind three teams that are at 5-1 Malaysia, New Zealand and Wales. They start the day tomorrow with Malaysia followed by tough games against Israel and Ireland. Three wins will get them into the playoffs for sure. Two wins will require some help.
Kim loses to New Zealand 10-21 and to Kenya 14-21, but rebounds with a win over Fiji 21-15. This puts her in 6th place. She finishes singles with matches against Cyprus, Wales and Canada.
James, Scott and Phil drop their first game to Australia 10-29. They face a tough Namibia team second and the game goes back and forth. The Americans are up one going home. Phil and the Namibian lead trade taking shot. Scott takes it right back forcing the Namibian vice to drive the jack successfully into the ditch to hold two, with the closest being the bowl in the ditch a yard away. James makes a brilliant draw to two feet from the ditch with his first bowl and the Namibian skip can’t match him and the Americans take a hard earned win. The third match is against New Zealand and they fall behind 5-14, but come storming back and get to 16-20 going home. They try for the four to tie but fail and end up losing 16-23. They sit at 2-4 and in 9th place. Their final games are against Malaysia, Jersey and Ireland. All of these are winnable and could put them back in the middle of the pack. On a side note, Namibia has a weird day. Before losing to the US, they give up a six (2-bowl triples) on the last end to lose by 1, and finish the day with a 12-9 win (18 ends) over the previously undefeated Australians. It’s a strange game sometimes.
After gusts up to 70 mph the first day and rain the second day, I’m expecting locusts with the occasional chance of frogs tomorrow.
Tu - 11/29/16 - 10:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Day 1 of 3 for these disciplines is now completed and overall Team USA goes 6-6 for the day. The rain stayed away but this was the windiest day since we have been here. The wind started at around 25-30 mph in the morning and steadily increased throughout the day reaching 70 mph in the afternoon. Combining this with 17-19 second greens makes for very tough bowling conditions.
Kim beats Guernesy handily 21-5 to start. She then faces arguably the best female bowler in the world and reigning Asia Pacific Champion from Australia, Karen Murphy, and loses with a very respectable 14-21. She ends with a 9-21 loss to the Netherlands making her 1-2 and in 6th place after the first day. Tomorrow brings the likely other candidate for best female bowler in the world, New Zealand’s Jo Edwards(3), Kenya(8), and Fiji(9).
Anne, Janice, Michele and Candy lose a tough one to England 13-29, but rebound with two strong wins 21-11 over Malaysia and 15-10 over Turkey. This puts them at 2-1 and in 5th place after the first day. Tomorrow’s opponents are Norfolk Island(10), Japan(8) and Spain(9)
As mentioned yesterday, the ladies had a tough draw to start, but going .500 is a great beginning. Tomorrow is an easier draw on paper, but anyone can beat anyone and there are upsets everywhere. For example, Australia’s Karen Murphy lost her third game of the day to Kenya 16-21.
For the Men’s Pairs, Charlie and Aaron got off to a strong start with big wins over India 28-15 and Spain 26-10. They put up a tough fight in the third game, but come up short against Wales 17-21. Still the big wins put them in 2nd place behind the Wales team which is the only undefeated team in their group. Tomorrow they face Guernsey(9), New Zealand(4), and Norfolk Island(8). Another strong day will keep them in the hunt for the playoffs.
Finally, James, Scott and Phil start strong against Canada going out to a 6-2 lead after 5 ends, but Canada pours it on late and takes the match handily 14-22. The second match against Samoa sees the Americans play their most consistent bowls of the day and it pays off with a 16-9 win. The final match sees USA get the first end, but then drop the next six to go down 2-8. They win an end and change the mat length and get back into the game, closing the gap to 7-8. Wales wins the next end and starts playing brilliant bowls and getting a fortunate rub or two and keep the Americans from winning another end in the match with the final score 7-26. The 1-2 record lands USA in 9th place. Tomorrow doesn’t get any easier as they face Australia(3), Namibia(8) and New Zealand(1). However anyone is beatable as in the final game of the day Samoa takes a 1 point lead into the final end against Australia, but Australia picks up a two to take the match and go into first place with a 2-0-1 record, the only team without a defeat in this group, but they do have a tie against Wales.
Mon - 11/28/16 - 8:30 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Only a morning practice session at Burnside broken into three parts to get time on all three greens there. The wind is low for a change, but the greens are still very fast. After that we all change into our uniforms and they seat us all in the bleachers. The British are late, the Australians are later, and the Malaysians are last in arriving. We get onto our assigned buses and then line up behind our team. We stand around on the street in the sun for about forty-five minutes, during which Brenda steers a newspaper reporter to me for a brief interview before we finally hear the band play and we start walking through downtown Christchurch. The streets aren’t packed. It is more like the usual foot traffic on a Monday at 3PM stops to watch us. Charlie has bought a ton of USA stuff which we wear and hand out to children on the parade route. Charlie wears an eagle head mask and gets interviewed by the local TV with his mask on along with Barry. We head up to the steps of City Hall and a strange procession occurs. A large Maori woman starts a chant and then about 15 women take up a similar chant. Meanwhile, all the players are following behind a strangely dressed witch doctor-type guy that I call “Papa Shango” who slowly leads the official delegation up the stairs while the women continue to chant. A smartly dressed Maori gentleman gives a speech that we can’t understand followed by Papa Shango’s rebuttal that we can’t understand or hear. A dignitary now speaks who introduces the Mayor. Following the Mayor is a speech by John Bell, the President of World Bowls. I met him in Warilla and he is a very nice man with a great sense of humor. After his speech, a final welcome and the dignitaries shake hands while we start walking back to get buses. Many people call it a day and head straight home, but James invites everyone up to the pub for a round of drinks that he buys. We haven’t been able to see much of the ladies except briefly on the greens so this is a chance to catch up with them. After no more than an hour we head back to our houses and we go out to a pub for dinner.
Tomorrow, the tournament starts. The first of three days of three games. All games are to 18 ends, with singles being to 21 points. 15-minutes for trials and a three-hour time limit for the matches. Last year, these were 2.75 hours, so maybe some fours games will actually play all 18 ends. Regardless, this will be a lot of bowling and the forecast for tomorrow is wind and rain. Here are our opponents for tomorrow along with their sectional seeding.
Women’s Singles - Kim(7) plays Guernsey (4), Australia (1) and Netherlands (2)
Women’s Fours - Anne, Janice, Michele and Candy(2) play England(3), Malaysia (4) and Turkey(5)
Men’s Pairs - Charlie and Aaron(6) play India (10), Spain (5) and Wales(7)
Men’s Triples - James, Scott and Phil(7) play Canada (9), Samoa(10) and Wales(2)
The ladies have a tough start to the tournament playing no worse than a fifth seed between them. However, a strong early start in the tournament could put them in medal contention right off the bat. The men have a great chance to run the table on the first day in both disciplines, but will face stiff competition from all.
Sun - 11/27/16 - 7:30 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
First, an apology to the ladies’ team. A majority of the ladies did arrive early, but they were doing two-a-day sessions at our host club, Elmwood, not sightseeing as I originally stated. My apologies again, ladies. Thanks for keeping me honest. I owe you all a beverage of your choice.
Today was the second of third days of official practice, with this one being at Fendelton/Centre. We originally worked out splitting up the time between the men and the women so that we could each have 90 minutes of solid practice on two rinks, as opposed to 3 hours trying to have each of us crammed onto one rink. However, they had spare rinks in the morning and many teams didn’t use their rinks in the afternoon as the wind was very strong again today. The last session we all had test matches against Fiji.
Here is some information about the format. Last year, anywhere from 17-20 teams in a discipline competed at the Asia Pacific Championships here in New Zealand. These teams were broken down into two groups and played a round robin within the group. The top 5 teams in each group qualified for this tournament, World Bowls. The top teams at Asia Pacific were Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
A week after, another tournament was held in Cyprus called Atlantic Championships where a similar tournament was held, with the same qualifying for World Bowls. The top teams there were Scotland, England, Ireland and South Africa.
Our men’s team qualified in pairs, triples and fours. Our women’s team qualified in singles, triples and fours, with the fours team getting a silver medal. In past World Bowls, qualifying would be for a 5-person team as a whole, in which the US team would have qualified for both the men and women. This year unfortunately used this method, which had us missing two disciplines.
For World Bowls, there are exactly twenty teams in each discipline. They are broken into two groups in the following manner: the winner of Asia Pacific is in Group 1, with second in Group 2, and so on. The winner of Atlantic is in Group 2, with second in Group 1, and so on. Again there will be a round-robin against all of the teams in the section. With ten teams, there will be nine games, with three games being played each day and there are no byes. Any team that previously dropped out has been replaced with the next highest finisher from that qualifier. These are the best teams and bowlers in the world. This is the highest competitive level in lawn bowling there is.
After the round robin, the winner of the section gets a pass into the semi-finals and is guaranteed a medal. The four teams that finished second and third are put into a random draw to play each other, with the winners of those games playing the sectional winners in the semi-finals.
The first disciplines will be Women’s Singles and Fours and Men’s Pairs and Triples. They start on Tuesday and finish sectional play on Thursday. Friday will be the quarter and semi-finals. Saturday will be the finals for Women’s Fours and Men’s Triples. Sunday will be the finals for Men’s Pairs and Women’s Singles. All of the finals will be televised and streamed live. Monday will be a rest day and the following Tuesday will be the Men’s Singles and Fours and Women’s Pairs and Triples. So any team that doesn’t qualify for the playoffs will have four days off.
The US qualified in all of the first set of disciplines and those players are as follows:
Women’s Singles: Kim - 7th Seed in Group 1
Women’s Fours: Anne, Janice, Michele and Candy - 2nd Seed in Group 2
Men’s Pairs: Charlie and Aaron - 6th Seed in Group 2
Men’s Triples: James, Scott and Phil - 7th Seed in Group 1
One other interesting tidbit is that they are charging $15 NZ to watch this year and $25 for any of the final days. The bleachers are at least double in size at each venue with the televised rink at Burnside being about 5 times as big as it was last year.
Practice session for everyone at Burnside tomorrow along with the parade through downtown Christchurch.
Sat - 11/26/16 - 9:15 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
I received some additional information from the women’s team that the women’s US Pairs beat the Scotland Pairs team, with Kim dragging the jack back on the last bowl to win the test match. The scoreboard wasn’t updated for the last end, so when I went past it indicated a tie. The Scottish women are also some of the best bowlers in the world so this is a huge win for them and a great confidence builder going forward.
Sat - 11/26/16 - 6:00 PM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Friday, the women practiced most of the day at Elmwood including a practice match against the local ladies. For the men, we were planning on joining them, but we wanted to check out the one club that we will play at that no one has gone to before first, Fendelton. Fendelton was closed, but then we walked over to their sister club right next door called Centre. In between is a very large facility for croquet and there are some die-hards playing out in the rain. They have four full courts set up with places to put gear, solid metal posts and other high-quality gear.
We see the Norfolk Island folks playing and they stop about the time that we start up. We think we are only going to play for a little while, but the rain breaks and we take advantage of it and just keep bowling. It threatens to rain all afternoon, but never does. We go until 1:30 or so and then head home to get lunch and wait for James and Barry to show up.
After they get in and get settled, we head over to Elmwood and bowl a little bit and socialize with the local club members, which is much more crowded than the other day. We connect with the ladies also. On Saturday, we will start our first official practice, but it has been nice to have the extra time. I make hamburgers for the guys, so I miss my usual blogging time but will get on a regular schedule now.
Saturday morning we head out and it is very windy. It starts at about 25 mph, but by the afternoon it is probably getting up to 60 mph at times. It’s a bit miserable to bowl in, but you just have to adjust as needed. We are also at Papanui which last year had the consistently fastest greens and this year is no different.
There are three session of 2.5 hours each. In the first one, the ladies have a rink and the men have a rink. After a brief break for lunch, we all have a test match against Scotland, one of the best teams in the world, in triples and pairs. Our women’s and men’s triples get beaten handily. However the women’s pairs ends in a draw, and the men’s pairs team of Charlie and Aaron only lose by two to the best pairs team in the world of Alex Marshall, MBE and Paul Foster.
In the third session, we set up another test match against Japan, who doesn’t have rinks in this session so they are happy to play. The wind is really howling and half the teams, including Scotland and the Canadian women just call it a day. Charlie and Aaron trounce the Japanese, but the Japanese triples team hand it to the Americans.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is another full practice day and we have a test match scheduled against Fiji. Monday we have practice in the morning and then all of the players will get bussed downtown for a parade. Tuesday, we will start the competition.
Fri - 11/25/16 - 7:30 AM + NZST - Scott Roberts
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home in the states. The men and women celebrated with dinner at Lone Star, which is a chain of steakhouses out here. Call it the New Zealand equivalent of Outback.
Personally, I got flew out Monday night at 11PM from LA to Auckland, went through customs that took an hour and then a four-hour layover before catching the final one hour flight to Christchurch, where Aaron picked me up at the airport in the local time afternoon on Wednesday. He and Charlie got in yesterday, while Phil got in a few hours before I did. James and Barry are in Australia and get in today.
The ladies, for the most part have been here for about a week doing some sightseeing, with the exception of Anne, who finished her incredible performance in the Champion of Champions and got in the same day as Phil and I.
Our host club is again Elmwood who asked to have us back, which is very kind. The ladies practiced there Thursday in the morning and then went to one of the clubs we will play on during the tournament, Burnside, in the afternoon. The men did the opposite, Burnside in the morning and Elmwood in the afternoon, before we circled up together in the afternoon.
We had a good solid practice. We were allowed on two rinks and did some drawing from various distances to start, then we played a pairs game with our official pairs team of Charlie and Aaron playing against myself and Phil. There was an on and off light mist falling while we were playing, but it didn’t affect the bowling and was a pleasant day. I feel that we all played well, especially considering the lightning pace of the green which we estimated is about 16 seconds and this is the slow green. For me, my first day of practice last year was almost like learning how to bowl and I feel light years ahead of that right now, which is a good start.
Over at Elmwood the greens are noticeably slower, probably 13-14 seconds. They had a club draw in the afternoon and we finished when they finished their draw and invited us in for tea. Hanging on the wall in the clubhouse is the signed jersey that Team USA gave the club last year in a nice frame with a note indicating when it was presented.
The two days prior to my arrival were nice and warm and around 80 degrees. It has dropped to the mid 60s and that Antarctic wind was blowing in the afternoon which had everyone bundled up and the club members were happy to be inside and sharing their tea with us.
Today, our plan was to go to Burnside to see if we can get on to practice. We are only a five-minute drive from the club and it’s one of the venues we will play at, so it is the best-first option. Otherwise, we will head over to Elmwood. It has been raining during the night and only just stopped a few minutes ago. This won’t affect the greens at all, because of their nature of being a weed as opposed to grass.
I’ll update again soon. Thanks for reading.