Phil Dunn competes at the Potter's World Bowls Tour in England.
Every year the Professional Bowling Association puts on the World Bowls Tour. The tournament includes the best bowlers in the world; Greg Harlow, Alex Marshall, David Gourlay, Kelvin Kerkow and other world-class bowlers were there vying for the large money prizes. The USA and other countries are invited to enter a pairs team and a singles player to compete for a $60,000 prize to the singles champion and a $20,000 prize for the best pairs team. More importantly placing in the tournament is a way to obtain a World Ranking; it is a very prestigious accomplishment just to be able to compete.
To qualify you have to compete in the PBA qualifying event that is held once a year at Santa Maria on the artificial green. The Potter's World Bowl Tour takes place at Potter's Leisure Resort near Great Yarmouth in northeast England next to the North Sea. The weather in January is rough, but the resort, set on 65 acres, is wonderful. It is advertised as the only five star resort in England. It boasts fine dining, professional entertainment, every type of game you can think of including shuffle board, indoor and outdoor bowling, tennis , golf, ping pong, and many others, as well as non-stop professional bowling during the tournaments.
Phil Dunn of SMLBC was fortunate enough to qualify in Santa Maria to play in this tournament in the pairs competition. It’s difficult for American bowlers because the contest takes place on an indoor carpet and there is virtually no indoor bowling in the USA and no comparable surface.
Nevertheless, despite sleep deprivation and only about an hour of actual practice on the surface prior to the match, Phil and his partner managed to defeat Israel in the first match. They won the first game 11 to 4. However, they lost the second game by a score of 9 to 7. (The games are quick, made for television and span nine ends each.) When teams split the games a three-end tie break takes place. Fortunately, Phil was able to put one bowl on the jack, so his team took the first end. On the second tie break end, Phil's partner, Jim Olson, managed to knock the jack back to a bowl that Phil had placed a couple of feet behind the jack. Thus, the first match ended with USA defeating Israel. Phil said, "All I wanted was to come away with one win so at that point I was happy."
The next day the television cameras zoomed in and it was USA vs Canada. The winner of that match would go on to play Kelvin Kerkow and Mervyn King. The first game Phil and Jim found themselves up 7 to 3. Canada fought back and the first game ended in a tie. In the second game USA led 7 to 1 after five ends. In the sixth end, Phil and Jim had two on the jack and it looked like they were going to go up 9 to 1 and put the game out of reach, but Jamie MacGowan of Canada drove and bowls went flying everywhere. The USA's two on the jack were lost and replaced by two for Canada. That was a major turning point in the game. In the end, USA fell to Canada 7 to 10.
Ultimately, Ian Bond and Andy Thompson of England went on to win the pairs tournament. Phil says, "It was great to be able to bowl against, warm up, dine and chat with the best bowlers in the world. It was a wonderful experience that I hope to be able to repeat.
The actual games can be watched on replay at 247.tv.