In a break with long tradition, the 2019 Sunday Morning League (SML) was played over two phases, not one. The Winners and Runners-up of the Phase I round robin were rewarded with a place in the potential final and reentered the competition in Phase II. The other teams — this year we played triples — were split up and new teams were drawn.
Even with this change in the erstwhile marathon format, the SML remains the toughest competition there is in YC&AC lawn bowls, requiring a high win percentage over a minimum of six games to become champions. A number of bowlers this year played 10 or more games in their Sunday morning quest for glory.
Phase I winners by a big margin were Team Alex Hendy, Yoko Ishiguro and Hirofumi Nakajima, who won all five of their games, racking up a massive 103 points in the process. The team was less dominant in Phase II however. In this second Phase, the newly formed threesome of Makoto Honjo, Toshi Kurosawa and Motoko Tsuyama finished comfortably on top of the pile, winning four of their five games.
A Final match was thus required between the aforementioned Phase-winning teams, while a match for Third Place was called for between Phase I runners-up Tomohiro Hamada, Terry Potticary and Kazuko Yasuda (sub Ichiro Ito) and Phase II runners-up Wataru Ikeda, Shigemitsu Itoh and Toshiharu Saito.
The games took place on the morning of Saturday, November 2.
In the Finals, the same rules applied as in the Phases, with each player rolling three woods over 15 ends and the team rotating Lead, Second and Skip after five ends.
It delights me to report that Team Hendy, Ishiguro and Nakajima returned to the unstoppable form they showed in Phase I and are the new undisputed champions of the Sunday Morning League.
In the Bronze medal match, Team Hamada, Potticary and Yasuda/Ito pipped Team Ikeda, Itoh and Saito for third place and the bigger share of what was left in the prize pot.
Well played to all who took part in this challenging and thoroughly enjoyable competition.
Big thanks as always as well to Head Groundsman Eric, who never fails to cut and prepare the lawn for the early Sunday morning starts and has kept the surface in remarkably good nick this season in unusually difficult circumstances.