Greg calls the shots!
ELY bowler Greg Harlow made history on Sunday by becoming the first player to win a World Bowls Tour title for the third year in a row. The current world No 1, who lives in Soham and is a member of City of Ely Indoor Bowls Club, beat Scottish-born Austral
ELY bowler Greg Harlow made history on Sunday by becoming the first player to win a World Bowls Tour title for the third year in a row.
The current world No 1, who lives in Soham and is a member of City of Ely Indoor Bowls Club, beat Scottish-born Australian David Gourlay in the final by straight sets to claim the engage International Open title.
The match was played out before a nationwide audience, watching the action live on BBC television, and a packed crowd at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
Reflecting on his third title, Harlow, 38, said: "It really hasn't sunk in yet and I just keep looking at the three trophies at home.
"When I won the first title it was the biggest achievement of my career but then to defend it last season was incredible. I can't really put this achievement into perspective yet."
Harlow revealed that he did find time to celebrate his victory. He said: "For the last two years I have treated myself to champagne and fish and chips and it was no different this year."
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The quality of bowls in the final was evident from the start when the defending champion held three shots with three perfect bowls in the first end, only for Gourlay to deliver a stunner which won him the end by a single shot.
In the next end, however, top seed Harlow achieved maximum reward with his final bowl which turned two shots to his opponent into a full-house four shots to himself.
Harlow delivered another sensational bowl, two ends later, when three shots 'against' became three shots 'for.'
The holder clinched the first set in the penultimate end and, after Gourlay took early control of the second set, Harlow came storming back in the seventh end with another stunning four-shot win to put him back in the driving seat.
Harlow went on to clinch the final end with a single shot to claim his historic victory, 12-7, 10-8.
He said: "I was pleased with how consistent I was during the tournament. When I had to play a big shot I always played it extremely well and I think that was why I won the title.
"I didn't feel under pressure but there were times when I had to dig deep and the experience I have gained in the past two years saw me through."
The world No 1 started the defence of his title last Tuesday (October 31) when he came through a tense tie-break to defeat Hong Kong qualifier Robin Chok 12-1, 7-8, 2-1. He then cruised past fellow countryman Billy Jackson, 8-5, 8-4, before coming from a set behind to beat Welshman Richard Morgan 4-7, 8-3, 2-0 to earn a place in the semi-final.
Harlow then faced world No 5 and Commonwealth gold medallist, Scotland's Paul Foster. Foster gave the champion a real test and they were level pegging at the conclusion of the first set, but Harlow's class shone through and he won the match 7-7, 8-7, to set up a mouth-watering final against former world No 1 Gourlay.
Harlow said: "People keep asking me if I will be winning a fourth title but that is a long way off yet. It is a great way to start the season and it is a massive confidence booster."
Gourlay, currently at No 3 in the world rankings and winner of the engage International Open title in 1998, 2000 and 2002, had already knocked out another City of Ely Indoor Bowls Club member, Andrew Easy en route to the final.
Easy, from Soham, made a very good account of himself in his first WBT competition, beating world number 16 and 1997 Open Champion Les Gillett in the first round, before giving Gourlay a real test.
The second-round match was tied after the first set, 5-5, but Gourlay went on to claim the second set, 9-5, to win the contest.