See world's top bowls players in Sheffield for free

IN these times of spiralling costs for major sporting events, British bowls might have backed a winner by inviting fans to watch their top stars in Sheffield for FREE!

Sheffield's Ponds Forge is to stage the inaugural World Matchplay Championship next month and taking part will be some of the top names in bowls including former world champions and the current top ranked two in the world, Australian David Gourlay and England's best player Greg Harlow. "Which sport offers the opportunity to watch its top players for nothing?" said Nigel Oldfield, chief executive of World Bowls Tour.

"We have a star-studded field, eight of the best, and this event is a great addition to the World Bowls Tour," he added.

In the field is World No 2 - and until recently No 1 - Greg Harlow from Ely, who will be looking for his fourth successive major success at Ponds Forge.

He won the engage International Open there last November, a record third straight win in that event, and is seeded to meet the man he beat in that final, top seed David Gourlay who has just replaced Harlow as World No 1.

Lorinda Shearsby, of new event sponsors Co-operative Funeralcare, organised the draw at Ponds Forge yesterday with Harlow and Oldfield.

Top seed Gourlay has a first round match with former world champion Mervyn King whilst Harlow faces England captain Andy Thompson.

Draw: Davbid Gourlay v Mervyn King, Alex Marshall v Jason Greenslade, Paul Foster v Robert Weale, Greg Harlow v Andy Thomson.

First round matches are on Thursday, June 21 (1pm and 6pm) with the semi-finals the following day at 2pm and the final at 7pm. Entry is free but tickets need to be obtained from the Ponds Forge box office or call 01142 233445.