SEBASTOPOL’S Rob Baker is the back-to-back Ballarat District Bowls Division men’s singles champion after an epic final against Webbcona’s Brett Mahoney on Sunday.
In a close-fought battle on the Webbcona tift dwarf grass, Baker defeated Mahoney 27-22 after 31 ends of play.
It was Baker’s fourth district singles title. The 36-year-old won two Ballarat Regional Bowls Association singles titles, before consecutive BDBD titles from last year.
In the morning semi-finals, Baker and Mahoney easily accounted for Tony Lange from Victoria and Barry McArthur from Webbcona respectively.
“The conditions were extremely difficult with the green and the wind,” Baker said.
“I varied the length and took the mat right up and threw the jack near the ditch. I do that sometimes when I’m in trouble and it seemed to work. It worked well on the last end in particular.
“I’m happy to get to the next level. I’ll be more pleased to get through to the district final with a hope to get through to the state final.”
The final started off one-sided with Baker storming to a 10-2 lead after eight ends. Throwing the jack long, he was able to pick up ones and twos with relative ease.
Mahoney gained the mat, and with slightly longer ends started to make inroads on the lead. After 16 ends, and few dead ends, the scores were level on 12-all.
During the next seven ends Baker’s ability to dead draw with this first or second bowl on several ends and apply early pressure saw him go to a lead of 19-13 after 23 ends.
Not giving up the fight, Mahoney scored two, two, four, and one over the next four ends to take the lead 22-19.
Baker won the mat and set it at the minimum and rolled the jack to the two-metre mark, a match-winning strategy to lead 24-22 after 30 ends.
The final end saw Baker put the jack in the ditch with the toucher 15cm away, an impossible task for Mahoney to convert, try as he might.
“Last year I knocked out Brett in the first round and then beat Greg Brown in the final,” Baker said. “This time I knocked out Greg in round one and then beat Brett in the final. He (Mahoney) is a bit younger than me so he’s got time.”
The small crowd present for the final saw some excellent draw bowling, clever weighted shots, and accurate flat out drives. Baker has also won the club singles and pairs, and will be contesting the BDBD Champion of Champions on Sunday.
He will go on to represent the BDBD in the regional final on Thursday, February 7, at a Central Highlands Division club.