THERE was a changing of the guard at the end of White Hart Bowling Club’s annual Tony Sugden Handicap on Saturday.
After the previous three club tournament finals this summer had been contested by the same two bowlers – Mike Estell and Ray Richards – it was a different story this time.
Estell had to scratch due to a prior engagement, while Richards finished third in a tough qualifying Group A in which Tom Hawkes pipped Kirk Wright by a single shot to make the semi-final stage.
Neil Laxton was impressive in winning Group B by defeating both Ian and Sheila Humphreys and then Gill Croft, who had won her first two group games.
Brian Chatterley qualified from Group C by the tightest of margins. He tied with Denis Turner on 39 points but went through as he had beaten the latter 15-14 in their game.
Tony Cox made the most of his +7 handicap in Group D by winning all his three games including a victory over Mick Perrins, who had defeated both Tony Buckley and Norman Batchelor in his other ties.
Both semi-finals were close affairs. Cox made a very poor start to his match with Laxton, who quickly reduced the seven-shot deficit he faced on the handicap, but Cox then rallied to get back into the tie.
Laxton proved too strong in the end, however, running out a 15-12 winner.
Chatterley and Hawkes traded blows in the early ends and the outcome was in doubt until after the halfway stage when Hawkes became more accurate, ending in another 15-12 scoreline.
Laxton had to give Hawkes just one shot in the final which was never in doubt from the early stages.
Laxton had bowled impressively throughout the event and Hawkes could hardly land a blow on him during a one-sided match which ended 15-5 to champion Laxton.