Good morning from a sunny Cheltenham. I will be trying to give regular updates and game details of today's matches, but I'll start by setting the scene
After yesterday's overcast weather with easier lawns, we had a very small amount of moisture overnight and have bright sunshine this morning. Conditions on some lawns should become tricky by midday. There are only six lawns being used for today's eight matches, so we have two late starts, Maugham vs. Death, and Evans vs. Avery
The six lawns vary substantially, so here's a run through of who's where
Lawn 9: easiest lawn. Burrow vs. Westerby. This is flat, one paced and without fast patches. Yesterday it had three matches finish on it before one finished on lawn 4. Delayed TPs are fairly straightforward
Lawn 10: 2nd easiest. Bamford vs. Goacher. Similar to 9, but there is some speed around hoop 1
Lawn 11: 3rd easiest. Ronan McInerney vs. Kirby. A few quicker patches and slightly firmer hoops than 9 and 10
Lawn 8: 4th easiest. Gibbons vs. Fulford. A few hills and a couple of faster bits around 3 and 6. Delayed TPs will be very difficult this afternoon
Lawn 7: 5th easiest. Aiton vs. Duckworth. Several faster areas. Can be tricky to pick up breaks and do standard TPs.
Lawn 1: 6th easiest. Dumergue vs. Bald. Several fast areas. Substantial hills at 3 and 6 and elsewhere. Bamford didn't do any peels on it yesterday. Fancy Ian and Ken taking several hours
Other key info is that this is the last day before the hoops go in new holes, so they are at their easiest today. Additionally, it will be best of five tomorrow, so this should be the last day of potential big upsets
I think the best two matches will be in the bottom quarter between McInerney and Kirby and Ian and Ken. Well, it's almost start time
I'll concentrate on Westerby vs Burrow since this should finish quickly and give updates on the other games.
Hasn't started yet.
Fulford plays supershot and misses Gibbons on East boundary 16y N of C4 3rd turn, finishing leve with hoop 4. Gibbons misses double. Fulford going round 4th turn.
Manford plays supeshot and hits Goacher on East boundary 15y N of C4 3rd turn. Is going round. Yesterday he stopped at 3-back 3rd turn despite the lawn being too difficult for him to try any peels. Easier lawn today so expect a quad.
10.12 and Burrow still getting a glass of water.
10.14 and Burrow is changing his shirt
10.15 Burrow K 8y N of C4
R 11-yard duffer
U hits K from A, rolls K towards hoop 2, getting a rush West on R which he takes to middle of West boundary. Takes-off to 2 feet in front of 1 and runs it by 10 yards to 2 yards from red to obtain first break
Duckworth has first break against Aiton
Dumergue first chance against Bald
Kirby first break against McInerney
Fulford on 4-b having popped Gibbons to 3 with defensive leave Bamford on 3-b with spread
Bald had failed hoop 3 against Dumergue
Goacher hit the lift
Duckworth failed at 1-back
Gibbons hits lift at partner near C4 and is now faced with a take-off to C2 where Fulford has a tight rush. Aiton has a break
Kirby on 4-back with NSL
McInerney misses long lift with hoop 4 ball
Burrow on 4-back with good leave (3rd turn). Spread
Aiton on 4-back with DS. Duckworth misses long lift
Westerby takes very aggressive shortest shot (15y) at ball near W boundary between 2 and 6 and hits. Easiest lawn - completely justified
Gibbons mis-approaches hoop 2 and lays up. Fulford misses from 3 to 4
Dumergue on 4-back. Bald hits lift centre ball with hoop 1 ball rushing it to C4 and is now faced with a take-off to C2 where Ian has a 3-yard join. Falls to get rush to 1 and has a leave
Westerby went to 4-back 4th turn and Burrow missed the long lift.
Gibbons went to 4-back with his hoop1 ball and made a DS laying up just south of hoop 4. Fulford missed the short lift
Goacher went to 4-back and Bamford missed the lift.
Kirby stuck in hoop 6 with his second ball.
Aiton missed a hampered shot after 3-back with 1 peel done of his delayed TP
Bald failed at 6 and Dumergue is now 1 and 4-back with the innings against 3 and 6. Ken hits in to regain the innings with his hoop 6 ball
Westerby is on a standard TP to win 17TP 6th turn, but only at hoop 3 so far
Gibbons has break with second ball
Goacher has a half break with second ball
Duckworth failed to capitalise on Aiton's error and Keith is back in.
McInerney is making an MSL with first ball against 6 and 4-back.
Westerby is on 1-back with 2 peels done.
McInerney opted for a reverse NSL
Goacher is now on hoop 6 still without a proper break
Gibbons is on 4-back with no peels done
Aiton is on rover and peg with a DS vs. 1 and 2-back.
Dumergue has the innings again and is making a leave
Dumergue lays up near hoop 1 with rush to hoop 1 with Kens ball at 2 and 3 but close to the boundaries. Ken plays ball at 2 to C4. Ian misses 2-yard rush to hoop 1. Ken misses from 3 to C4 leaving perfect 16-yard double for Ian's hoop 1 ball with a ball at hoop1. Ian hits
Duckworth hits lift and has break with hoop 1 ball
Westerby finishes +17TP sixth turn
Kirby misses long lift into C2 leaving ball on hoop 2.
Gibbons on 4-back and peg. Fulford's 4-back ball in C2, his hoop 1 ball 7 yards N of hoop 1. Gibbons on maximum distance spot on East boundary with a rush to hoop 1 ball (near perfect double). Fulford hits boundary ball in middle from where it lies
Goacher is now for 2-back and has a 4-ball break.
Westerby lays supershot ball. Burrow goes just out of C2. Westerby hits, has angled hoop 1 which he successfully jumps - should go round, but will need to rush to hoop 2
Dumergue has break with backward ball against 3 and 1-back.
Kirby has innings
Fulford makes no hoops from hit lift. Lays up tight in C2 with rush to C4
Gibbons 4-back ball near C1 and peg ball in middle of east boundary. Gibbons corners to C3 with 4-back ball. Fulford rushes to 3-yards south of peg ball. Stops partner 6-yards into lawn, getting a rush to C3. Rushes 7 feet out of C3 on N boundary and takes-off short failing to get a rush. Croquets 4-back ball to hoop 1 and leaves a 3-yard rush west on partner. Gibbons moves 4-back to C4. Fulford makes 1, fails to rush to C4 and lays up tight near C2. Gibbons moves ball just out of C3 (peg ball) to 3-yards out of C1).
Duckworth fails 2-back and Aiton finishes +12.
Dumergue fails hoop 4, Bald in with 1-back ball with half chance
Westerby on 4-back (3rd turn) with defensive spread.
Goacher on 4-back and peg with reverse DS. Bamford lifts ball at peg and misses long lift into C2. Goacher rushes poorly and only reaches the peg. Rolls partner to 3-back, getting cut-rush to 4-back
Kirby appears to have broken down at 4-back
Goacher snicks rush to 4-back and rolls up to 2-yards straight, retires to partner. Bamford moves ball near 4-back to C1. Goacher makes leave, forcing Bamford's backwards ball to play: Goacher laid up south of hoop 4, with Bamford's hoop 1 ball at 4-back and his hoop 3 ball 2-yards off the west boundary level with 6. Reg corners ball near 4-back into C1. Goacher misses 10-foot rush. Bamford misses partner near C1. Goacher misses 7-yarder (possible double target)
Burrow misses long lift. Westerby plays well to pick up standard TP
Fulford makes a leave near hoop 1 leaving Gibbons' peg ball near North boundary behind hoop 2 with big target (2.5 balls in middle) and 4-back ball in C4. Gibbons refuses shot and goes near end of A-Baulk. Fulford makes another leave leaving 4-back ball between 3 and 4, peg ball off N boundary behind 2 and leaves a half rush near C1 north. Gibbons moves 4-back ball to end of A-Baulk. Fulford picks up 3-ball break
Bald to 4-back with leave. Now 3 and 4-back vs. 4 and 4-back (hoop 3 is tricky). Ian hits lift and is going round with hoop 4 ball
Kirby penult and peg with leave vs. 2 and 4-back. McInerney misses lift. Kirby wins first +16.
Duckworth has first break in second
Fulford on delayed TP. Good rush after 2-back allows him to almost fully peel through penult
Bamford on standard QP
Duckworth on 4-back with open spread and 5-yard join. Aiton hits.
Dumergue breaks down at 4-back to leave all 4 clips on the hoop: 4-back and 4-back vs. 3 and 4-back (told you it was tricky!). Gets in again, fails 4-back again
Westerby finishes 5th turn +26TP. Admittedly on the easy lawn, but nevertheless, a very impressive perfect match from Aaron taking full advantage of his good fortune yesterday
Aiton stopped at 2 (don't know why) and Duckworth now has break with his backward ball
Fulford completes competent delayed TP to win first +5TP. Some weakness shown in his physical strokes, but a highly impressive tactical performance to finish without Gibbons shooting
Bamford now on 3-back with 2 peels done
Ian and Ken still have all the clips on 3.
Correction from previous report. Fulford's finishing turn started with a rush south rather than north. He played a big roll sending a ball to 3, going to the ball on the boundary behind hoop 2, where the front ball might have been going off, but hit the peg finishing between 3 and 4. As I have always said, you don't win any Championship without a good slice of luck
Duckworth breaks down at 5. Aiton has the innings
Bamford completes +5QP win - Goacher must be kicking himself ... or should that be slapping himself?.
Progress on lawn 1. Dumergue has gone to peg with a leave. Now 4-back and peg vs. 3 and 4-back. Ken hits the lift with his hoop 3 ball, but fails hoop again. Ian now has the innings
All other games at lunch. Time to have a look at the USPGA Champs - come on VJ.
Dumergue finished to win the first +15
Duckworth hit and is going round with his 4-back ball. Misses 6-yard return after rover. Aiton going round presumably to peg him out to leave 1 & peg vs. 5
Bamford has innings at start of second
Fulford vs. Gibbons game 2: Fulford supershot. Gibbons 16y N of C4. Fulford misses to 1-yard N of C4. Gibbons misses 13-yarder at ball near C4. Fulford going round turn 5, trying to pop, but failing. Ball to 4-back with DS.
Kirby has the first break
Gibbons misses long lift
Bamford has first break in the second, stops at 1-back with sextuple leave. Goacher hits tea-lady
Fulford goes down the hill at 6 with the 4-back peel in front of hoop and plays 15y S of C3. Gibbons hits the peelee, keeping it on 4-back about 4 inches in front of hoop. Then peels it with a take-off, does well to make hoop 1 and now has break with potential TPO
Aiton pegs out Duckworth leaving 1 & peg vs. 5. Balls in C2 and C3. Duckworth rolls ball in 2 to peg, hits ball in 3, takes-off to hoop 5 and misses it joining up the peg ball just out of C3
McInerney hits the lift, but fails hoop 1 off partner
Bald has his first clip on hoop 3 and is 2 & 3 vs. 1 & 1
Bald runs hoop 3, but fails hoop 4. Dumergue joins up by hoop 4, but Ken has a go at a very difficult short angled hoop, runs it, but with a double tap, so it's 2 & 4 vs. 1 & 1
McInerney hit back in and is now on a break running hoop 6
Aiton has control of the pegged out ending
Gibbons is on 2-back having completed 2 peels of his TPO and has good control of the break
Goacher has made it to 4-back leaving Reg's hoop 1 ball 2 yards off just South of the middle of the east boundary, his 1-back ball 3-yards WNW of the peg and has himself 4-yards South of C2 with a rush north. Reg lifted the ball at the peg and hit partner from B-Baulk
McInerney failed at 1-back, Kirby hit, but was hampered after hoop 1, joined partner by hoop 3 and McInerney missed from 2 to 1
Gibbons is on straight rover peel to complete the TPO. Rover peel goes through 4-yards with strikers ball in jaws. From there, John managed to rush only 5 to 6-yards away for his peg-out and missed giving Rob everything
Fulford finished his 4-ball break to win in straight games
Dumergue took his first break to rover and gave contact. Bald now has the innings for 2 & 4
Bamford took his 1 ball to 4-back
Duckworth had a chance in the pegged out game against Aiton, but failed 3-back. Aiton is on 4 & peg
Kirby is on hoop 6 with his second ball
Goacher missed the lift and Reg now has a standard TP, which should be straightforward
Bald has gone to 4-back with his hoop 4 ball and Dumergue has missed the lift. Ken now has a standard TP, which is very tricky on his lawn.
Meanwhile Evans and Avery have gone on lawn 8 and Evans has the first break
Maugham and Death have gone on the easy lawn 9 and Death has hit the ball in C2 3rd turn having laid a super-shot and is going round. It is disappointing that lawn 9 has been used today. Hopefully, the quarters and semis can avoid it
Aiton has reached 2-back and peg vs. 3-back, but Duckworth has just hit in with 2 balls up by the west boundary by hoop 2. Duckworth made 3-back, but failed 4-back
Death is on 4-back with a defensive spread. Maugham has missed the long lift
Kirby reached 4-back and peg with a spread, and McInerney missed his last lift. However, Kirby grovelled through 4-back and couldn't hit anything. McInerney took his lift and hit his partner that was in Baulk, and then took off the lawn next to Kirby's penult ball to give the game and match away -20
Ken Bald has just completed the best turn of the day with a wonderful TP on lawn 1 (the lawn Reg thought was too tricky a peel). It is now 1-1 with Dumergue
Bamford comfortably finished his TP to beat Goacher in straight games
Duckworth has just missed a free 20-yarder with 2 balls at his hoop (4-back) and Aiton is now trying to 2-ball out from 4-back. Aiton approaches penult, sending partner down just short of rover but runs too far to be able to attempt the hoop and goes 8y S of C2. Duckworth took his lift and missed his "rush" on the ball at rover to 4-back
Death finished in 30 minutes 5th turn 26TP to take the first against Maugham
Avery hit the long lift against Evans, but broke down at 6
Death somehow went first again in game 2 and laid a supershot. Maugham went peg high on East boundary and James missed it from A-Baulk. Dave has hit the 16y double 4th turn and is now on 4-back with a MSL.
Meanwhile, Aiton is laid up level with 6 on the West boundary with a rush to penult (boundary ball looked wired). Ed hit from behind hoop 4, rushing the peg ball north. He then played an excellent take-off to obtain a rush to 4-back, but rushed it off the East boundary. He has now over-approached 4-back leaving a 2-yard 45-degree hoop. This fails bouncing back to hoop running position wired from Keith's penult ball behind the hoop. Aiton shoots at partner near hoop 2, missing. Ed fails 4-back. Keith finishes to move into the quarters where he will face Fulford
Death took the shot through hoop 4 and missed. Maugham now has a standard TP to equalise
Evans stopped at hoop 2 on his second break, and Avery is now in again with a break for his hoop 6 ball
Bald has the first break in the decider on lawn 1, but has just put his clip on 1-back. Dumergue hit a sweaty 7-yarder, but has some work to do to pick up a break. After a leave from Ian, Ken cornered and Ian missed a 1-yard rush to give Ken the innings again
Mark went to 4-back and gave Marcus a choice of 14-yarders. Marcus missed to give Avery a standard TP
Maugham has finished the 2nd to equalise +26TP 6th turn
Death laid a supershot in the decider and Maugham again went peg high on the East boundary. James hit and is now going round 3rd turn. James is on 4-back and has again made a defensive spread
Avery finishes a nice TP on lawn 8 to take the first against Marcus
Maugham has missed the long lift and Death now has a turn to put the World Number One out of the Championships. He has made hoop 1, but his hoop 2 pioneer is poor. James has made 2, with a rush to corner 4, but his peelee is at hoop 6. A good rush to 5 feet out of c4 and a good thick take-off give him the chance of a standard TP. Hoop 3 is run, the peel is made and a perfect rush to C4 gives James what should now be a routine finish, but nothing is ever routine in such a big game
Bald vs. Dumergue entered a scrappy phase but Ken has now gone from 2-back to rover leaving it 1 & rover vs. 1 & 4. Ian has just missed the lift, giving Ken the chance of a quarter-final slot
James Death completed the peels of his triple before 3-back and kept his nerve to win 2-1 in 16 turns. It was an excellent performance, but you have to say that Dave must count himself unlucky to have been given the easy lawn having hardly put a foot wrong over the last 2-6 weeks. James will now play Aaron Westerby in the quarters
Avery has the first break in the second
Bald failed to take his winning opportunity, but still has the innings
Evans missed the lift against Avery who picked up his break only to miss his hoop 3 pioneer from 2-yards. Marcus has played a very good 3-yard cut rush to 6 inches in front of hoop 1
Bald has a 4-ball break and needs to do a rover peel to win. The rover peel is aborted after hoop 5, but looks good for before 3-back. However, it is put into the wire, so a straight peel will be required
But ... he didn't get that far, failing penult. So, penult & rover vs. 1 & 4. The lawns are slowing down and big comebacks are definitely possible
Dumergue grovels through hoop 1 and misses a 9-yarder. Ken hits a 6-yarder and after a good shot has a rush to a ball on the boundary. However, he over-hits his take-off and does not obtain his rush to rover and has a leave. Dumergue misses and Ken takes his penult ball to the peg. A very poor leave gives Ian a 10-yarder (no lift), which he hits to stay in the match. Ian then fails hoop 4. Ken joins partner by hoop 6. Ian misses from 4 to 6 (he's shot badly this match). Ken plays with his peg ball and makes a leave. Ian misses and Ken finishes to set up a quarter final with Kirby
Evans gets to 4-back with an NSL and Avery hits the lift with his hoop 3 ball, but fails hoop 3. Marcus hits an 8-yarder and has a good chance for a standard TP if he can rush to hoop 1 from 20-yards. Marcus plays poorly and does not obtain a rush to hoop 1 and ends up with a 4-yard hoop which he fails giving Mark a 2-yarder with his 4-back ball or a 9-yarder at a ball and a half with his hoop 3 ball with a ball at hoop 3. Avery plays his 4-back ball and goes to peg, giving a 13-yard lift shot. It is now 3 & peg vs. 1 & 4-back, the lift will be crucial. Avery is laid up tight in C4 with a rush North, Evans 4-back ball is 16 yards South of C3 and his hoop 1 ball is 2 yards off the west boundary level just south of hoop 6. Marcus lifts his hoop 1 ball and shoots down from C3, missing partner, but just staying straight enough to clip Marks' peg ball
Evans made hoop 1, rushed back to near C4 and took off the lawn trying to get behind Avery's peg ball just out of the corner
Mark lays up guarding hoop 3, with Marcus' hoop 2 ball at hoop 5 wired from his 4-back ball on the boundary behind hoop 4
Marcus hit with his hoop 2 ball, picks up a break and will no doubt be looking forward to the 2-ball game 4-back vs. 3.
Marcus told me yesterday that he'd never lost a game where he's pegged out 2 balls. Well, he's 4-back vs. 3 now
Avery takes position at 3
Evans shoots from hoop 2, hitting hoop3 and glancing off to the boundary south of it
Avery runs 3 and takes position at 4
Evans takes position at 4-back
Avery runs 4 and takes long angled position at 5
Evans runs 4-back, shoots at penult, missing to 5-yards N of C1 Avery takes lift, hits 5-yarder, over-rolls to 5 sending Marcus just North of the peg and takes 4 foot position open
Marcus hits 8-yarder, rushing it to end of A-Baulk, takes-off to 2-yard angled position, takes 2-foot position, but gives a wiring lift
Avery misses 9-yarder, Evans runs penult to south boundary, hits Avery's ball, croquets it to hoop 6 and takes position at rover
Avery shoots gently and hills off. Evans finishes. 1-1
Game 3: Avery supershot. Evans 15 yards N of C4. Avery misses from A-Baulk (poor shot). Evans hits double from B-Baulk and goes to 4-back with an NSL. Avery lifts the ball at 4 and takes the incredibly aggressive shot from A-Baulk, missing
Evans then does not punish the shot, since he opts to have partner at hoop 2, rushes poorly to 1, and has a one-yard angled hoop, which he runs up to partner at 2. Plenty of work to do to go round from here never mind have an easy standard TP
A thick take-off sent partner to hoop 3 and Marcus rushed to behind hoop 2. A 7-yard take-off gave him a 2-yard hoop, which just went through. He failed to keep the peelee in ideal position and only got it in the front of the jaws after hoop 3. Going back after hoop 4, he rush peels it to the North boundary and takes-off back to hoop 5. Does well to obtain rush to C3 after hoop, sends 1-back pioneer slightly deep. Rolls peelee vaguely 3-yards behind 6 and angled. Runs 6 and tries 2-yard angled peel. Peels cleanly just past the peg getting good rush on escape ball. It should be straightforward from here providing he gets a rush to 1-back
1-back is made and the peelee is now in front of rover as he makes 2-back. The 4-back pioneer is sent nearer 3rd Corner than 4-back and whilst the rover peel goes through, it is only by 6 inches and he doesn't get a rush to 3-back He's made 3-back, but with no rush, so if he makes 4-back, he should be home. He leaves himself a 3-yarder on the peelee which could go anywhere after 3-back and rushes it back up to penult. One good take-off and it's there ... The take-off just stays on the lawn giving a rush, but that is over-hit 2-yard past. A good approach leaves him a similar length 4-back to the one he failed to lose the Men's earlier this year. Again the ball jumps, but this time it sails through to the boundary and he now has all the balls for an easy finish
Avery had looked impressive all tournament, but another of the top 8 seeds is out and qualifier Marcus is having another excellent tournament at Cheltenham. Well done
So, that's it for today. Tomorrow we have lawns 1, 7, 10 and 11 (no lawn 9 ... hurrah) all with fresh hoops. Will the best of five matches finish???
Death vs. Westerby
Aiton vs. Fulford
Bamford vs. Evans
Kirby vs. Bald