It’s that time again and the ranking events are coming thick and fast! We head into the last third of the season with this weekend’s Henselite English Masters at Bromsgrove IBC. With just one more event to follow, players are vying for position in the rankings and the order of merit, as well as that all important World Cup spot, but who will walk away with the 5th title of the season?
Here are our ones to watch!
Joe Beattie (Ireland) (World Ranking: 18)
It’s been a difficult year for the 3-time SMPT Champion. Joe has failed to qualify for the Cup knockout at all events this season and that has seen his World Ranking slip from 9 to 18. A Shield victory and a semi-final berth in the Plate knockout in Norway has given Joe plenty of matches and he’ll be keen to improve on his group results.
Joe is favourite to top Group 13 and will see his main challenge come from experienced Englishman Nigel Nicholls. His reward for winning the group could see a possible match against talented youngster Alex Kley or fellow Irishman Vincent Dornan. Can the popular Irishman win his 4th title? Watch this space!!
Christer Nordin (Sweden) (World Ranking: 62)
It’s been a great season for the 60 year old from Ellenö, Sweden. A rise from 150 to 62 in the World Rankings is just reward for Christer’s efforts. Just 5 defeats from his 30 games and a SMPT record breaking 35-1 win at the Norwegian Open has seen Christer move into serious contention for the Order of Merit title. Can he go one better than his dramatic Plate victory in Sweden?
Qualification into the Cup knockout from Group 1 should be straight forward for Christer who faces a likely battle with compatriot Dick Almen for top spot. The winner will probably meet either Edward Sawbridge or Stephen Proctor who are both featuring prominently in the Order of Merit this season.
Cecil Dillon (Ireland) (World Ranking: 119)
It’s a welcome return to action for the 30 year old from Poyntzpass, Ireland. The 2014 Champion, has taken a step back from the Tour over the last 18 months following the birth of his daughter but makes his second appearance of the season and will be keen to emulate his success of 3 years ago. A great performance at the British Isles Championships in November saw Cecil take runners up spot in the Singles and he helped Ireland retain the team title. Will another SMPT title follow this weekend?
Cecil has it all to do to make the Cup knockout from Group 11. Defending Champion, James Bucknall, former UK Open finalist Paul Bax & 2015 BI’s singles Champ Andrew Jones stand in his way. It doesn’t get any easier in the knockouts with a likely clash against England superstars Dom Reed or Chris Willies a distinct possibility.
Ryan Knight (England) (World Ranking: 185)
The 31 year old former England National Singles Champion has yet to show his full potential in singles events on the Tour. However, following a nail-biting victory at the World Fours Masters at the same venue back in December, Ryan should never be underestimated! An improvement on his 58.06 win percentage could see him challenge for top honours this weekend and he’ll be looking to improve on his first round Plate exit back in August at the Henselite UK Open.
Ryan has a great chance of claiming a Cup spot from Group 4. His main threat will come from World Cup winner Tommy Dahlgren & Martyn Dubb from England. Ryan will also face two debutants in Shaun Jones & Andrew Evans. If qualification is achieved then a match against one of the big guns from Group 21 awaits.
With 3 SMPT Champions, 2 debutants & a very experienced Englishman, Group 21 looks very tasty indeed! You would suspect the top 2 to come from either Jonathan Payne, Joel Hager or Stephen Williams but you cannot discount Steve Puttock from throwing a spanner in the works. How will new players Andy Jones & Saul Featherstone fair against some of the giants of Short Mat Bowls? Jonathan will play Joel & Stephen in his last 2 games and he’ll be keen to book his place in the Cup knockout as he bids to reach an unprecedented 3rd final in a row!
Henselite Order of Merit
With two events left to play, things are hotting up at the top of the Order of Merit. Following his maiden win in Stromstad, P.J Gallagher from Ireland now sits top with 391 points. Close on his heels are Dimitri & Jonathan Payne with 375 & 370 points respectively. Stephen Proctor is fourth with Christer Nordin dropping two places to 5th. With only 3 of the top 15 players missing, namely, Mark Beattie, Pauline Beattie & our leader P.J, others now have the chance to stamp their authority as the try to claim top spot and the £250 first prize!
In the battle for the Ryan O’Neill award, given to the top performing under 18 player each season, Sweden’s Jonas Hager leads the way with 256 points. With last year’s winner Sibe Laureys & early OoM leader Victor Andersson now ineligible to win, Jonas looks a firm favourite to win the prestigious accolade. His nearest challenger is Alex Kley from England on 132 points and it would take some effort from the young Dorset player to overhaul him.
As always you will be able to see all the results as they come in, you can view the constantly updated group tables and you can catch up on event highlights and see player interviews via the live feed on our website. We will also be bringing you live coverage of matches via our Facebook page throughout the weekend, so make sure you’ve ‘liked’ our page.
We look forward to you joining us!