MARATHON MAN: Neil Burgess, who staged a miracle comeback to take out the Zone One singles final at Ballina.
MARATHON MAN: Neil Burgess, who staged a miracle comeback to take out the Zone One singles final at Ballina.

Burgess the king of comebacks

FORMER State singles champ Neil Burgess (Lennox Head), after having his appeal against the gale-like conditions turned down, staged a sensational comeback in Sunday's Zone One singles final at Ballina.

One-time Grafton junior star Brad Johnson (Byron Bay) had him trailing 3-12 when Burgess sought unsuccessfully to have the match deferred because of the wind.

When the game continued, Burgess slumped further, to a disastrous 9-23. Johnson needed eight shots to take the title, Burgess needed 22. The game seemed all over.

Then Burgess showed why he once played for New South Wales and was the State's Bowler of the Year. He won seven ends in a row, scoring 10 shots. Suddenly he was only four shots behind the high-flying Johnson. Johnson picked up a single to lead 24-19. Then Burgess had another winning run of three ends, scoring five shots to even the score at 24-24.

Johnson won four of the next five ends to hit the front again 29-27. But the cool-as-a-cucumber Burgess scored 1, 2, 1 on the next three ends to take the championship 31-29.

The marathon game took 36 ends to complete. There may never have been a better comeback in such a high-level event. Burgess will get his chance at his second State singles title in the finals at Tuncurry in October.

Earlier, Johnson had beaten Clarence River district champion Ian Dickinson (Yamba) 31-19. Dickinson was greenkeeper at Maclean when Johnson played there years ago as a kid on the way up.

In the reserve singles final, 30-year-old Andrew Montgomery (Brunswick Heads) downed 2001 reserve pairs champion Mike Scanlon (South Lismore) 31-21. Scanlon earlier had edged out Garry Winkler (Clarence River) 31-29.

Next hurdle for Montgomery will be the State finals at Pennant Hills, Sydney, on September 2-4.

Ron Erickson (Murwillumbah) handed out a 31-12 shellacking to Yamba's evergreen Kevin Brackenrig in the Over-60s singles final after earlier giving the same 31-12 treatment to Broadwater's Snow Smart.

Erickson now has the chance to make history. He will play in the first-ever State singles final for seniors at Roselands, Sydney, on September 14-16.

In-form Lang

ON-FIRE Evans Head skip John Lang, with Rod Farmer, will meet Yamba greenkeeper duo Bob 'The Bear' Ware and Ian Dickinson in the opener of the Zone One pairs championship at South Lismore this Sunday.

The winner will go on to confront former State singles runner-up Kris Lehfeldt (Pottsville) and Ron Wilson in the afternoon final.

In the first match of the reserve pairs at the same venue, Iluka's 'Golden Arm' Paul Donsworth with his brother Greg will be up against Brien Sniegowski and Terry Lee (Condong). The winner will play Vic Lindsay and Carl Felsch (Evans Head) in the final.

Broadwater's man-of-the-moment Snow Smart will team up with skip Brian McEllicott in the Over-60s pairs final against Roy Dunn and Brian Lambert, of Cabarita Beach.

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