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Former golf international Brent McEwan has exchanged his golf clubs for a set of bowls and is making an impact in his new sport.
McEwan (35), a sales representative, was one of New Zealand’s best amateur golfers and played in 24 tests for New Zealand.
He retired from serious golf two years ago after representing Otago 103 times in teams events. Otago finished runner-up at the nationals in his last two years.
"I wanted to spend more time with my wife, Shannon, and young family," McEwan said.
"But I am now just as passionate about bowls as I was with golf."
In the last two PBA regional events in Dunedin McEwan has demonstrated that he has talent as a bowler. He was beaten in the semifinal of the Scottish international qualifying event by winner Russell Dawe in June and reached the final PBA World Singles last month.
Andrew Kelly (29), a Christchurch structural engineer, convincingly won the final at the Dunedin Bowls Stadium 9-2, 9-5 to advance to the national final.
McEwan admitted meeting his match against Kelly who has been a regular in the Black Jacks squad for the last seven years. He gave McEwan a master class.
"Andrew’s a quality bowler and put too much pressure on me," McEwan admitted.
The big difference between the two was Kelly’s accuracy. He made three or four of his bowls count on each end. McEwan usually had two loose bowls that did not count on the head.
Kelly has already had three trips to the United Kingdom for international PBA events and could gain a fourth at the New Zealand PBA finals at Wellington next month. He will compete in the PBA Trans Tasman series at Melbourne for the first time next week. Veteran Dunedin bowler Ken Walker is manager of the New Zealand team.
This is the third and final PBA regional event this year to find the bowlers to compete in the national finals at the new Naenae complex at Wellington next month.
Russell Dawe (Dunedin) in the Scottish singles and Kelly in the World Singles have already qualified. Marty Kreft and Keri Rupene have qualified in the pairs.
Other contenders in the singles this weekend include Elliott Mason (Dunedin), who beat Kelly in the ranking singles final at the last regional event, junior international Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Gore), and Dunedin’s Paul King, Andrew McCallum, Ross Brown, Doug Thomas and Ross Stevens.
A ranking singles event will also be held this weekend, the last chance for bowlers to claim places in the New Zealand PBA team to play Australia in 2018.
The team is selected with the four top-ranked bowlers from the previous season joining the best-performed New Zealand bowler in the Trans Tasman Challenge.
Dunedin PBA bowlers in the top 12 before the last event are Andrew Kelly (third), Paul King (seventh), Ross Stevens (ninth). Andrew McCallum (11th) and Doug Thomas (12th). Richie Muir (Central Otago) is 10th.
The race for best rookie of the year is tied between Jonty Horwell (Dunedin) and Ray Martin (Wellington) with 90 points and a national ranking of 84th.
Murray Glassey (Hawkes Bay) 372 points, Craig Merrilees (Southland) 314, Andrew Kelly (Christchurch) 307, Bradley Down (Wellington) 288, Dean Drummond (Hawke’s Bay) 276, Bart Robertson (North Harbour) 268, Paul King (Dunedin) 239, Rhonda Adams (Taranaki) 225, Ross Stevens (Dunedin) 224, Richie Muir (Central Otago) 216.