Banff’s Paterson proves a master on the green
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THURSO’S outdoor bowling green once again provided a first-class venue for the North of Scotland Junior Masters at the weekend.
With the surface back in pristine condition, the event went off without a hitch.
Organisers were delighted to get the rub of the green, weather-wise, after waking up to heavy rain on Saturday morning. The showers relented to allow play to get under way as scheduled and conditions gradually improved for the qualifying group matches.
There were no problems on Sunday with the venue bathed in bright sunlight for the afternoon final, which was won by Banff joiner Stuart Paterson.
Thurso Bowling Club president Doug Morrison said: "There was a fair downpour before the competition and it is testament to the condition of the green how well it soaked it all up.
"It was very heartening to get so many favourable comments from players about how well it played."
Mr Morrison revealed that a fungal infestation of the green had worsened over the winter and threatened to delay the launch of the new season.
A major programme of reseeding and treatment with a fungicide, overseen by greenkeeper Lorna McDermid, did the trick and has restored the surface to as good a condition as it has been in for many years.
This was the eighth masters – open to those under 26 – held at Thurso and competition was, if anything, more cut-throat than ever.
All three former winners – Ewan Fraser, from Inverness, Phil Nicol, from Forfar and Huntly’s Chris Mitchell – all failed to qualify for Sunday’s knockout stages.
Wick had no representatives until St Fergus’s Martin John stepped in as a late replacement.
He had the misfortune to be drawn in a very tough group but though he lost two he managed to take the notable scalp of Nicol. The only local to top his qualifying group was Dounreay electrician Alan Morrison. The 22-year-old went on to give the eventual winner a real fright in the quarter-final.
Trailing 19-11, Morrison battled back to lead 20-19, only for Paterson to win through after taking two shots on the final end.
Paterson was also struggling early on in his semi versus Edinburgh’s Alison McDougall.
Only the second female to make it out of the group stage, the 22-year-old looked a fair bet to become the first woman finalist.
She led 10-4 and 14-7 but only scored a single thereafter as Paterson pulled off another backs-to-the-wall victory.
His opponent in the final was Brora’s Matthew Norrie, who had two previous semi-final appearances.
The 21-year-old welder defeated 2009 runner-up Greig Douglas, from Aberdeen, then Inverness bowler Kyle Ross to set up a showdown with Paterson.
Paterson (22) made it fifth time lucky at the tournament, having not previously got past the quarter-final stage.
The Keith Bowling Club member won all six of his matches to get his hands on the £500 prize and glass trophy, which was engraved by local craftsman Willie Bain.
Paterson, who represents Scotland at under-25 level, was always ahead in the final. He led 11-4 before the Brora club champion came back strongly with back-to-back two shot gains, taking the score to 12-9.
That was as close as it got, with Paterson stretching away to lead 17-12 and then 20-12. Norrie picked up a couple of shots before Paterson clinched victory.
The finale was somewhat anti-climatic as it was unclear who had shot prior to Paterson’s last-bowl delivery.
It did not trouble the head but a measure revealed that the north-east man had, in any event, the single shot he required.
Norrie, a member of the Northern Counties team, had no complaints.
"I never really got going in the final," he said. "I struggled to find my range early on, then when I had chances to add shots I didn’t take them."
Before presenting the prizes, Mr Morrison thanked the small army of markers, umpires and others who had helped over the weekend to make the event a success.
He said: "We’re grateful to the competitors who have travelled to make this such a special competition and once again the standard of play has been exceptionally high."
Group winners – A: Alison McDougall, Maitland. B: Martin Rough, Huntly. C: Greig Douglas, Abergeldie. D: Stuart Paterson, Keith. E: Scott Murray, Rosehearty. F: Kyle Ross, Inverness. G: Alan Morrison, Thurso. H: Matthew Norrie, Brora.
Quarter-finals: Paterson bt Morrison 21-20; McDougall bt Murray 21-15; Norrie bt Douglas 21-14; Ross bt Rough 21-12. Semi-finals: Paterson bt McDougall 21-15; Norrie bt Ross 21-14. Final: Paterson bt Norrie 21-14.