TOM Bishop was crowned Hampshire singles champion after a performance worthy of the title.
Playing on his home green the 21-year-old Atherley bowler produced a masterclass that belied his years to beat established Hampshire Middleton Cup skip Russell Morgan 21-6.
The previous day Morgan had overcome fellow Middleton Cup skip Peter Ward by the same score in the semi-finals, his principal weapon being a precision first delivery that regularly nailed the jack immediately putting the pressure on his opponent.
However, in the 18-end final Bishop was the man with the unerring first-wood accuracy that Morgan simply could not live with.
Bishop built a 7-0 lead after five ends and Morgan must have guessed on the next end that it wasn’t going to be his day because he held two shots only to tickle the jack with his final delivery towards two of Bishop’s making the score 9-0.
At 14-3 Morgan’s last vestige of reclaiming the trophy he won in 1995 vanished when the Boscombe Cliff player, holding shot, saw Bishop perform the perfect take-out to go 16-3 ahead.
Bishop – the first Atherley bowler to become Hampshire champion since Joe Bridle in 1981 – now represents the county in the Bowls England Championships at Worthing next month along with Morgan and Ward, who won the third place play-off.
Bishop has become a Worthing regular. He qualified for the singles in third spot two years ago and has been there as county under-25 champion three times as well as in the fours in 2009 and the triples a year earlier.
He has not been playing so regularly recently because of his studies at Aston University, Birmingham, where he has just started a 13-month placement in construction project management.
He began playing bowls aged seven indoors and shot to prominence three years later when qualifying with dad David to represent Atherley in the finals of the English Indoor BA father and son Championship . Since then Tom has always been considered a top-class prospect – and this latest triumph proves that this unassuming young man is still progressing in the right direction.
Tom was delighted that his Bellemoor school pal Leigh Allen carried off the men’s under-25 championship. He persuaded Allen to take up bowls and the 21-year-old enjoyed his finest moment on the green when shading Fleming Park’s Alan Forrest 21-20 in a high quality final.
Allen looked in charge at 15-7 but Forrest staged a robust fightback to sneak 20-19 ahead before Allen levelled and then won the last-end decider.
It has certainly been a memorable summer for the family Bishop as Tom’s sister Carly of Sports Centre is Hampshire ladies’ under-25 champion.