is the new Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines Ladies World Matchplay champion, describing her triumph as a ‘dream come true.’ The 23-year-old from Norwich, playing in the event for only the second time, defeated 2011 champion Alison Merrien, from Guernsey, 11-7, 8-10, 2-1 in a high quality, drama laden and totally absorbing final at Potters Leisure Resort.
It was a record-equalling fourth final in five years for the 38-year-old Channel Islander, and the third time she has suffered the disappointment of being cast in the role of the bridesmaid. Field, twice British and English junior champion, showed no outward signs of nerves and she raced into an 8-0 lead after four ends, but Merrien has too much ability and big match experience to offer anyone a set on a plate.
She gradually chipped away at the deficit, winning the next seven ends to trail by just one shot going in the final end, where she missed an opportunity increase the pressure on Field, but nevertheless held the one shot required to tie the set at 8-8, until the local girl produced one of the shots of the tournament to trail the jack for a treble. Merrien won six of the first seven ends of the second set to lead 7-2, meaning that Field, who plays out of the Norfolk club, had only won two of the previous 13 ends, yet she remained well in touch for the title when picking up a maximum four count on the ninth end to be only two shots down at 9-7.
Singles were exchanged on the last two ends, enabling Merrien to take the set 10-8 and extend the drama into a tie-break, which was a fitting finale to a match that both players had made strong cases to win. In a rather nervy tie-break, not unexpected given what was at stake, it was Field who claimed the title on the decisive final end, and although there seemed ample space for her match-winning bowl to be put in some danger, Merrien for once was unable to produce that telling delivery when it mattered most.
England’s Mark Royal made the short drive home to Stowmarket wondering how he managed to fluff his lines against fellow countryman Robert Paxton and let slip a place in the quarter-finals. The left-handed number seven seed, having powered his way to a 10-3 win in the first set, led 7-3 in the second with just two ends remaining and appeared to have one foot in the last eight.
However, Paxton, the number ten seed from Exeter, suddenly pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a maximum count of four on the penultimate end to tie the set, punishing to the extreme two failed attempts by Royal to remove some of the counting bowls. Paxton rubbed salt in the wounds by driving the jack into the ditch to win the set 8-7, and then conjured up precision draws on the first two ends of the tie-break to secure the most unlikeliest of victories.
Less dramatic was Nicky Brett’s progress through to the quarter-finals, England’s number 16 seed easing to a 9-4, 7-3 win over New Zealand qualifier Phil Bennett, first round conqueror of defending champion Andy Thomson. Knowing what Bennett was capable of on his day, Brett knew he had to be on his mettle, and that was how the match panned out, with the Englishman always in control with a steady, consistent drawing game that left few opportunities for the Kiwi to mount a serious challenge.
In the battle of the qualifiers, Scotland’s Colin Walker defeated Australia’s Ray Pearse 10-4, 2-8, 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time. East Lothian-based Walker, who knocked out world number one Greg Harlow in the opening round, closed out the first set, 10-4, with three consecutive doubles.
Pearse, who toppled Wales’ 15th seed Robert Weale on his tournament debut, dominated the second set from the outset, winning it 8-2 and then took the opening end on the tie-break, but it was 38-year-old Walker who claimed the next two ends to become the fourth Scottish player through to the last eight.
LADIES WORLD MATCHPLAY FINAL
Rebecca Field (England) bt Alison Merrien (Guernsey) 11-7, 8-10, 2-1.
WORLD INDOOR SINGLES SECOND ROUND
(10) Robert Paxton (England) bt (7) Mark Royal (England) 3-10, 8-7, 2-0.
- Nicky Brett (England) bt Phil Bennett (New Zealand) 9-4, 7-3.
Colin Walker (Scotland) bt Ray Pearse (Australia) 10-4, 2-8, 2-1.