Tattie Wins International Open
Report courtesy of WBT Press Officer and contributing editor to Bowls International Mel Beck:
SCOTLAND'S Alex Marshall celebrated his 46th birthday in some style by producing a vintage performance to win The Co-operative Funeralcare International Open at Blackpool Newton Hall IBC.
Marshall, who never dropped a set all week, was sheer class as he brushed aside England's Robert Paxton 10-2, 10-1 to win his first World Bowls Tour event outside the World indoor championships.
He may have experienced a few lean years since winning the last of his record five World indoor singles titles in 2008, but as they say,' form is temporary, class is permanent,' and the 13th seed was back to his very best here, which, as Paxton pointed out, “is a scary thought.”
Marshall, who had only once before reached a final outside the World singles, said: “I'm over the moon to have finally won a title outside the World indoor championships, as I have been trying now for several years.
“Robert's an outstanding player and didn't get the best of results at times, but on the day I think they were probably the best two sets I have ever put together.”
Paxton, whose consolation will be a place in the world's top three at the end of the season, had to be content with playing the supporting role to a masterful performance when on any other day his overall display might well have been sufficient to have obtained the leading part.
“I'm obviously disappointed to lose, but I'm not disappointed with my performance,” said Paxton. “It must have been a pleasure to watch Alex today, but it wasn't a pleasure being on the receiving end – he was unbelievable out there.”
Whatever shot was required, Marshall appeared to be able to produce it at the drop of a hat, such was his command of the match, and especially damaging were his running bowls that always snuffed out any hints of a possible threat to his domination and invariably turned heads in his favour.
In the morning semi-finals, Paxton produced two bowls from the top draw in the tie-break to defeat fellow Englishman Nicky Brett, the number 16 seed seeking to reach a second world ranking tournament final of the season.
Paxton had taken the first set 7-5, a brilliant last bowl sealing the issue when a tie seemed the likely outcome, but Brett stepped up a gear in the second, scoring five shots over the last three ends to win it 10-5 and force a tie-break.
The shot changed hands no fewer than four times on the first end of the tie-break, with Paxton eventually clinching it with an inch-perfect backhand draw to an off-centre jack, with Brett having played an equally impressive bowl across the green to lay shot.
Brett levelled matters on the next end with his counting bowls never under any real threat and it looked as though he was set for a second final in three tournaments when he held two shots on the final end.
However, Paxton, with the last delivery of the match, managed to run both bowls out of the head and remain close enough to the jack to win a match that could have gone either way.
In the battle of the MBE's, Marshall took the honours against his old adversary, Andy Thomson, winning in straight sets, 10-7, 10-8, but England's fifth seed was not without his chances at the business end of both sets.
Thomson recovered from 4-0 down to lead 7-6 with two ends to play only to offer Marshall a gift-wrapped three shots, taking out his closest bowl when just one shot down on the head, and the Scot added a single on the last end for good measure.
Whether that affected Thomson's confidence, but he was all at sea at the start of the second set, where he conceded a cheap maximum count of four to a re-spotted jack, and within three ends found himself 6-0 down and heading for the exit door.
To Thomson's credit, he battled back into the contest, receiving a four himself when Marshall's unluckily sliced the jack in the wrong direction, and within the space of four ends he had turned a 6-0 deficit into an 8-6 lead with two ends left.
However, Marshall continues to be a dangerous player when cornered, and on the last two ends he twice extricated the jack from positions of strength for Thomson, who on both occasions failed to find the re-adjustment necessary to threaten re-spotted jacks, and Marshall collected two doubles to book his place in the final.
10. Robert Paxton (England) bt (16) Nicky Brett (England) 7-5, 5-10, 2-1.
13. Alex Marshall (Scotland) bt (5) Andy Thomson (England) 10-7, 10-8.
(13) Alex Marshall (Scotland) bt (10) Robert Paxton (England) 10-2, 10-1.
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