Australia’s premier lawn bowls event is in full swing on the Gold Coast.
The Australian Open is the richest bowls event in the country and naturally attracts bowlers from every corner of the nation, including plenty of players from the Goulburn Valley.
South-east Queensland has experienced a glut of top line lawn bowls action in the past year, with the Commonwealth Games and numerous international fixtures allowing the best players in the country to hone in their form on the greens of the region.
Chief among those in terms of a GV flavour is former East Shepparton coach Josh Thornton.
After announcing his return to Corowa to ply his pennant trade last month, Thornton is back in action at the June 9 to 22 Open, hoping to ride the wave of his recent gold medal efforts at the Games to help him and Barrie Lester defend their men’s pairs crown from last year.
The dynamic duo cruised through their section with three wins on Tuesday to book their spot in the knockout stages.
Also progressing in the same competition is Tallygaroopna export Mitch Sidebottom.
After snaring the prized men’s singles gong at last year’s Victorian Open, Sidebottom has continued to bowl to the best of his ability on the national stage.
The teams in section 32 were no match for Sidebottom and his skip Nathan Wilson, with the pair winning all three games by an average of 15 shots.
Sidebottom, who plays pennant with South Bendigo, also won through his men’s singles section, joining Mathoura’s Michael Humphreys, Yarrawonga’s Tyson Cromie and Moama’s Peter Hall as automatic qualifiers into the knockout rounds.
Katamatite product Curtis Hanley (now at Melbourne) and Echuca’s Philip Thorn had to wait a little longer to secure their places, but got through with great shot differences, despite dropping a game each.
There are also plenty of familiar faces to follow in the women’s singles knockout rounds.
Yarrawonga trio Laureen Smith, Anne Miles and Claire Sanders won their respective sections, along with Moama duo Merilyn Rehe and Sandra Connolly.
Echuca’s Pat Schram also remains alive in the draw after sneaking through as a next best qualifier.
Action continues daily on the Gold Coast until June 22, with GV hopes competing for a share in the total prize pool of $250000.