A trio of National Training Squad (NTS 50) bowlers have taken out the three titles on offer at the 2022 John Sullivan Seniors Australian Open at Zone Bowling Frankston in Victoria over the weekend.
With three divisions in play at the second senior division ranked event for the year, Andrew Lloyd (NSW) and Jenny Burton-Douglas (ACT) took out the Senior division titles, while Queenslander Graeme Morgan claimed the Grand Senior trophy.
After winning in 2020, Andrew Lloyd is now a two-time event champion.
The 53-year-old courier driver from Bowlarama Wetherill Park, NSW set the tone early on day one and never looked back.
Leading the field at the end of day one with an impressive 236.1 average, Lloyd would return on day two and do much the same. Finishing on 3,722 with an event average of 232.6, Lloyd would claim his second John Sullivan Senior Australian Open title for his growing collection.
“It means everything!” explained Lloyd. “It’s probably the biggest senior tournament in the country. I was lucky enough to win two years ago, and to win it again is sensational.”
Always keen to improve his game, Andrew had found a couple of small things to help provide significant results on the weekend.
“Just getting the ball forward at the foul line, keep it flatter at the bottom and not hitting up on it seem to get a better reaction,” explained Lloyd.
“It carries the corners better, and it seemed to work well on this sort of pattern.
“When under pressure – I just concentrate on my process, concentrate on two or three little things and just go out and execute,” added Lloyd.
By winning the 2019 Australian Senior Cup, Lloyd has carried that momentum by claiming the 2020 and 2022 John Sullivan Senior Australian Open titles. With the desire to represent his country as his ultimate goal, consistent performances at ranked events have done his future chances no harm while being in the NTS 50.
“Any of the major senior tournaments will obviously help when it comes to selection for Australian teams,” said Lloyd.
“Having good results is pretty good. Winning them is a lot better.
“I’m off to Adelaide in May, and I think that’s when the NTS squad may begin to reduce – my goal is to get into that, and whenever the Australian senior team goes away, my goal is to make the team and perform overseas for Australia,” added Lloyd.
In a victory that has been 50 years in the making, Jenny Burton-Douglas (JBD) overcame a field of 26 ladies on her way to claiming her first nationally ranked event title.
South Australian Jo Babic would finish four pins behind Burton-Douglas in second place, with day one leader Mary Dodds rounding out the podium in third place.
Starting bowling at the age of 12, the now 60-year-old public servant from Canberra was thrilled to win her first career title, an event named after one of her bowling idols.
“It feels fantastic to win this event,” said Burton-Douglas. “John Sullivan was an amazing guy that I looked up to as a young bowler back in the 1980s. I will display the trophy proudly.”
Starting the event off strongly averaging 205 over the first eight games, Burton-Douglas would sit in second place behind fellow NTS 50 team member Mary Dodds at the halfway mark. A text message from a good friend at the end of day one helped JBD to remain level-headed entering day two.
“Go into day two as if it’s your first day of the tournament,” the message read.
“It resonated with me and seemed to release some pressure,” Burton-Douglas explained.
“I was more focussed on making shots. I didn’t try to duplicate or improve on day one. As a result, I felt free, relaxed, and had a lot of fun on the lanes,” she added.
The message seemed to stay with Jenny throughout day two on her way to bowling 89 pins better than day one. In a cut-throat ending to the ladies division, Burton-Douglas would finish with 3,369 over her 16 games averaging 210.6.
The score was enough to scrape past her nearest challenger Jo Babic by four pins even though both were not aware of the closeness of the battle.
“Jo and I talked after the final game, and neither of us had been aware what each other was bowling, positions or scores,” explained Burton-Douglas. “We were just bowling our own game, and I’m glad I didn’t know. I was just having fun and focussing on making good shots.”
A member of the NTS since its inception, JBD has represented Australia at the 1983 World FIQ Championships and won gold (singles) and bronze (masters) medals at the 2005 World Masters Games in Canada.
The bowler from Zone Bowling Tuggeranong in Canberra is keen to continue to work on her game, admitting there is always room for improvement.
“I want to keep working on my fitness, including flexibility to ensure less chance of injury to remain competitive in all tournaments,” added Burton-Douglas.
The men’s grand senior division saw nearly the same number of bowlers contesting its title as the seniors this year, with 38 bowlers.
Queenslander Graeme Morgan would seek redemption on his way to claiming the title ahead of fellow statesman Rob Kaluci and George Sammut of NSW.
Last year, Morgan led the field after day one in the same event. On day two, with scores going down to the wire, the Queenslander would eventually settle for runner up behind Mike Muir. In 2022, the NTS 50 bowler would go one better and lift the Grand Senior trophy of the famous event.
“I’m feeling pretty emotional and proud of my achievement,” said Morgan.
“It was my goal after coming second last year and losing in the final game.
“This time around, I just bowled my best, not knowing I had actually won until I was told,” added Morgan.
Turning 60 last year, 2022 is the second time Graeme has bowled the Grand Senior division.
The Logan City Tenpin leftie one-hander ended day one 84 pins off the leader after eight games. Posting a 1,693 on day one saw Morgan sitting in sixth place at the event’s halfway mark with fellow Queenslander Colin Reese, the division leader.
A 198-pin increase on day two saw Morgan shoot up the leader board.
With several bowlers within striking distance in the last five games, a 279 game by Morgan and a 299 game from Rob Kaluci excited onlookers in the 15th game. But, like Burton-Douglas, Morgan would choose to focus on his own game and not what was happening around him.
“I just focused on my own game and was throwing good shots and having fun with the fellow bowlers on my lane,” explained Morgan. “I think not knowing I was in contention helped me enjoy my bowling and bowl as well as I did. I executed the shot that I needed to throw and then repeated it. I was relaxed and not even thinking of the result.”
Averaging 224 for the weekend, Morgan would post a 16-game total of 3,584 pins, 49 pins better than last year.
Always looking forward to the next challenge, the Queenslander looks set to maintain his spot in the NTS and not only continue competing in senior events, but also throwing his hat in the ring against the younger bowlers.
“My next goal is to bowl the Adult AO in a few weeks and try to mix it with the younger guys on the lanes!” explained Morgan. “I may be 60, but I still feel I have the shot and game to compete with these younger bowlers. I will definitely do my best.”