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Bowls: Welsh Masters handed world ranking status.

Byline: DAVID RHYS JONES

IT WAS confirmed yesterday that Wales is to have its own World Bowls Tour ranking event - the well-established H J Hall Welsh Masters, due to be staged in Llanelli in February, will have a 32-man field with ranking points at stake.

But, in a surprise move that will no doubt irritate some members of the Professional Bowls Association, a wild-card entry has been reserved for the winner of the Welsh national indoor singles title - who may not be a PBA member.

The Masters will get under way in the Selwyn Samuel Centre, which was designed with television in mind, on February 8 - and the man who wins the national title on Monday, February 10, will return the following day to play in the Masters.

The field for this winter's national championship currently stands at 32, but it will be reduced to eight this weekend, when the second and third rounds will be played at Pontardawe.

Following the quarter finals at Cardiff on Friday, January 3, the semi-finalists will do battle in front of BBC TV cameras for the right to take on twice Welsh Masters champion Greg Harlow in the first round of the Masters.

Now that the Masters is officially part of the WBT's professional TV circuit, players will use red and green bowls on the now familiar blue carpet on the portable rink.

Five Welsh players - plus the new Welsh champion - are among those with their sights on the pounds 39,400 prize fund, which includes a pounds 10,000 cheque for the winner, with pounds 5,000 going to the runner-up.

John Price, seeded fourth, meets USA qualifier Neil Furman, Robert Weale, the No 7 seed, takes on Canada's Nick Watkins, Jason Greenslade (9), plays Aussie Brett Wilkie, and Steve Rees (13), faces Kiwi Murray Glassey.

Cardiff 's Marc Wyatt, who qualified from the PBA play-offs in Stanley in September, has been drawn to play the No 10 seed, Jon Ross, from Belfast, who retained his Irish indoor singles title at Ballymoney last weekend.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 19, 2002
Words:341
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