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The world champion put in a masterclass performance to seal the deal on a third consecutive win at the tournament hosted by the North East Valley Bowling Club, defeating Blackjack team-mate Gary Lawson (Elmwood, Christchurch) 25-17.
Those present witnessed something special from two of New Zealand’s top international bowlers, watching in awe some masterful draw play from McIlroy on his way to a sixth title overall at the event, after winning his first as an 18-year-old in 2006.
It took 15 ends before McIlroy was able to pull away on the scoreboard from Lawson.
Until that stage nothing separated the two as they went shot for shot.
Scoring a three on the 18th end put McIlroy ahead by five, a lead he extended to six on the penultimate 24th end. He shut the gate on the 25th end to win the race to score 25.
Not having played a lot in recent months due to work and family commitments, he said it was only by chance he ended up at the tournament this year.
He was working in Wanaka when he received a call from Amy informing him that the Auckland-based players were unable to travel south for the tournament and suggesting he should consider making himself available.
Although organisers had an even spread of seven players in each of the four sections, local bowler Ken Wright offered to step aside in order to create space for McIlroy to play.
"I really appreciate it," McIlroy said.
There was no doubt that the tournament was richer for McIlroy’s inclusion.
It also reinvigorated McIlroy’s game, with trantasman and Commonwealth Games competition on the national selectors’ agenda in the coming months.
"This one’s pretty special," he said after his victory yesterday and becoming the first player to achieve a three-peat in the event.
"Obviously there was the opportunity to create a little bit of history by becoming the first to do a three-peat," he added.
It was his sixth title overall at the tournament.
Despite some close calls in section play, McIlroy was the only player to progress through undefeated, topping what was a highly competitive section 1.
By his own admission McIlroy said he had "heaps of close games" in section play with a couple of three-hour marathons.
"But you expect that. Most people I play against play a bit better. And they all played pretty well.
‘‘They asked a few questions of me and it was up to me to answer them.
"But in the end I was pretty happy, considering the lack of practice etc".
McIlroy, having shaken off the cobwebs, was in a class of his own in post section play yesterday.
He accounted for Bill Clements (Alexandra) 25-5 in quarterfinal play and Ray Martin (Victoria Club, Wellington) 25-10 in semifinal play.
On the other side of the draw, Lawson defeated 2009 champion Shaun Scott (Bannockburn) 25-15 in quarterfinal play and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley 25-28 in his semifinal.