History repeated itself over the weekend as two champions captured their third Hammer Queensland Seniors Classic titles at Caboolture Bowl and Mini Golf.
Beginning on Friday night, senior bowlers from across Australia landed in Queensland to compete in the first seniors ranked event for the new year. Two familiar names in the event’s history in Sue Cassell and Tony Hamilton would once again be crowned champions.
Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) Hall of Famer Sue Cassell continued her winning ways at Caboolture Bowl by claiming her third straight Hammer title. After returning to the sport in 2019 and finishing runner up at the event, the National Training Squad (NTS) 50 member has gone on to win the next three events in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
“To have only been back bowling four years and have the results I have had is amazing, and I am extremely appreciative of all who have helped me along my journey,” said Cassell.
A straightforward format saw bowlers complete 18 games in two appearances over three days of competition. Bowlers would bowl ten games on the first session and eight games on the second to complete their 18 games. The bowlers with the highest total pinfall would then be crowned champions.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the defending champion as she began the event on the backfoot. Averaging 186.2 in her first ten games, Cassell would finish day one in the 7th spot, 161 pins behind Bendigo Bowl’s Christine Clark who led the field.
“I had practised on Friday and felt I was throwing the ball well but come competition day, it was a completely different story”, explained Cassell.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable at all. I couldn’t get my feet right – my swing was all over the place, and then I had no balance at all at the foul line to execute the shot.
“The more this was happening, the harder it was to keep a positive attitude”, added Cassell.
With eight games left, the defending champion came back with a different mindset on day two, providing the boost required to climb the standings.
“I knew I had a big task ahead of me on Sunday, so I set my goal to finish in the top three and just focused on two certain aspects of my game”, explained Sue.
“Sunday was a totally different day – my mind was a lot clearer; I was more focused and was able to enjoy my bowling and make the required ball and line changes as needed”.
After bowling 178 in game one, Cassell would bowl 200 + in each of her last seven games, averaging 216.88 for session two. A performance that allowed the Hall of Famer to claim her third straight Hammer title and join fellow Hall of Famer Jeanette Baker and NTS 50 teammate Christine Clark as the others to achieve three titles in a row at the event.
In second place was two-time event champion and Victorian Robyn Flynn, who finished 59 pins away from Cassell and newly NTS 50 appointed member Jo Babic rounded out the top three claiming yet another podium on the ranked event circuit.
Tony Hamilton is a recognisable name when it comes to Hammer champions of past years.
The Queenslander won his first Hammer title in 2019 and went back-to-back in 2020 before finishing in fifth place last year while striving for three straight titles. Living near Caboolture Bowl is one of the many reasons ‘Hammo’ loves the Hammer.
“It’s a great event. It’s at a great centre run by an owner (Brian Bates) who has an absolute passion for the sport,” said Hamilton.
“The organisers always do their best even during these covid times to make everyone feel welcome, and it draws amazing competitors who are looking to achieve their personal goals in the tournament”.
A field of 63 male bowlers would vie for glory in the division’s first ranked event for 2022. Hamilton would lead the field throughout the event on his way in becoming the first male bowler to win three Hammer Qld Seniors Classic titles.
Averaging an impressive 236.3 over the first ten games, the Queenslander started with a bang on day one and held a 51-pin lead from his nearest challenger Michael Muir from Western Australia after day one.
“I had a great day Saturday. I was able to stay in the area I needed to be longer than others which benefited me. Things just seemed to fall into place. If a needed a ball change, I got the chance to test those theories without wasting a frame (12th frame)” explained Hamilton.
Hamilton would slightly cool off in his second session but still do enough fending off challengers for the title. Averaging 217.63 in session two, Hamilton would finish with a winning 4,104 total pins and an average of 228 over the 18 games to claim his third Hammer title.
A fast-finishing Glenn Rowland made a triumphant tournament return finishing in second place, 43 pins behind Hamilton and seven pins ahead of third-place Michael Muir.
“Day 2 was a fight. Knowing the quality chasing you, it does have an effect, and the conditions were similar, but the transition was quicker,” said Hamilton.
“I probably was a little closed-minded trying to stay in the area that worked yesterday but wasn’t as forgiving Sunday. Moved a bit further left than Saturday with a stronger ball for the last three games and was able to reel in Mr Muir. I had to sweat watching Glenn Rowland give it a red-hot crack only to fall short”.
Following consistent performances in 2021, Hamilton was selected in his first National Training Squad late last year.
Hamilton’s 2021 campaign saw the Queenslander finish third in the John Sullivan Senior Australian Open, sixth in the SA Seniors Classic and fifth in the Hammer, Hamilton became one of two new male bowlers to enter the NTS 50.
“I was pretty chuffed when the head coach Eric Jang rang me—considering everything going on with covid and restricting already established NTS members who were unable to compete and whether changes were going to be made. Who doesn’t want to represent their country!” said an excited Hamilton.
“I honestly can’t wait to have our first session in Melbourne with fellow teammates and coaching staff.
“There’s still plenty of work to do to get the nod when the final team gets to compete, but for now, I’m one step closer to achieving something special in the sport” added Hamilton.
First Session (10 games) – 204 154 192 203 186 183 182 157 236 165 – TOTAL – 1862 AVG 186.2
Second Session (8 Games) – 178 235 204 200 228 230 224 236 – TOTAL – 1735 AVG 216.88
Total Pinfall – 3597
Average over 18 games – 199.8
High Game – 236
First Session (10 games) – 235 270 205 227 249 228 235 218 248 248 TOTAL – 2363, AVG 236.3
Second Session (8 games) – 226 185 192 221 228 247 239 203 TOTAL – 1741, AVG 217.63
Total Pinfall – 4104
Average over 18 games – 228
High Game – 270
Michael Muir 289 – Game 7 of first session