The best of the best clash

A WHO'S who of Australian lawn bowls talent will converge on Ballina's Cherry St Sports over the next five days to shoot for the prestigious Summerland Singles title.

For this first time this year the field has doubled from 64 to 128 players in a ground breaking move for the popular event.

Cherry St bowls coordinator Kris Lehfeldt said it was a logistical challenge to expand the tournament, but an essential one given the depth of quality players available.

"The last couple of years we've only ever had 64 people play, and 118 people nominate to play, so you had to cut so many out," he said.

"It's a fantastic effort to make it go ahead (this year). It's been a year in the planning.

"I've still got 10 reserves trying to get into the field."

The first four days of the event will see 32 players vie each day for four spots in the round of 16, which will kick off on Wednesday's finals day.

In form favourites for Saturday's play include Condong pro Steve Halmai, who is signing with Ballina tomorrow after spending a year at a Sydney club.

Canadian-born Ryan Bester could dominate on Sunday - the current world number one. He is the bowls coordinator at Broadbeach Bowling Club where the Commonwealth Games will be held in 2018.

Monday looks like a tight race between Scotty De Jonghe and Jono Davis, a 15-year-old state singles winner who hails from Dubbo - although it's tipped to be the strongest day of the four.

On Tuesday legendary South Tweed bowler Kelvin Kerkow, former world champion and Commonwealth gold winner, is tipped to be one of the biggest threats. But state pairs winner and runner-up in the state singles Chris Herden could easily dominate as well.

Other strong players across three days include last year's winner Ray Glasser, current Australian representative Brett Wilkie, and Nathan Wise and Troy Somerville.

While there are plenty of favourites scattered throughout the draw, Mr Lehfeldt warned upsets were likely.

"The pressure goes on when you're expected to win, and anything can happen in bowls (so) there's always a few upsets."

Competitors are playing for a total prize pool of $12,600 with the winner getting $3000 and the runner-up $1500, as well as valuable ranking points. Play starts each day at 9am.



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