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ENGLAND'S DEBBIE CORNELIUS REACHES FINALS BUT BRITISH SUPREMACY IS CHALLENGED BY TWO NEW ZEALANDERS
by Bob Alman


While Debbie Cornelius was winning the Medalist Round of block winners to assure her place in the finals, the resurgent Brits were battling their way up the elimination ladder, with only Toby Garrison and Steve Jones to prevent a complete British sweep of the top places.

Three British players and one New Zealander qualified for the Medalist Round by winning their blocks - Jeff Dawson, Debbie Cornelius and Stephen Mulliner in addition to Tony Stephens of New Zealand - but it was Debbie Cornelius who claimed a narrow victory on points over the New Zealander, thus becoming the first woman ever to reach the finals of the Sonoma-Cutrer World Singles Championship.

Cornelius is the only woman to compete in the event in recent years, and this is her fifth try since placing fifth in 1990, her best showing until now. She has long been highly ranked in the world standings, the only woman to be ranked in the top fifty players in the worlld. Because of her unique status, she has become an Icon - proving in her 97-pound frame that women are fully capable of achieving the top ranks of the sport.

Midway through the penultimate day of the tournament, only seven players remained in contention for the title. Besides Cornelius, they are English players Stephen Mulliner (three times former champion), Chris Clarke (current world champion); Jeff Dawson and Steven Comish, both playing in the event for the first time. But 19-year-old-Toby Garrison and veteran player Steve Jones as well as Tony Stephens (who has one more chance in the elimination), all New Zealanders, could yet win the championship if they reach the final against Cornelius.

At the beginning of Saturday's play, only two of the eight U.S. players remained - Wayne Rodoni and Jerry Stark of Northern California - but they were eliminated in the second period, as had been Canada's Leo McBride in the first period. Last year's champion, Aaron Westerby of New Zealand, was also knocked out in the second round, by Steve Comish of England.

Australia's one surviiving hope, Jeff Newcombe of Perth, was also eliiminated early, after fellow Aussie Colin Pickering had failed to make the cut for the first time in nine starts in the championship.

European champion Simon Williams of Ireland, who had barely made it into the elimination ladder, survived one round but then fell to Aaron Westerby, who was then eliminated by England's Steve Comish. Lewis Palmer of Wales was beaten in the first round by Jerry Stark, who was then eliminated by Steve Jones.

PEELING TO VICTORY IN THE BLOCKS

Of the original 28 players in the tournament, only sixteen could qualify out of the blocks - the first four of the seven places in each block. The preliminary and unofficial statistics of completed block play reveal that a player's ability to complete the triple is a reliable indicator of success. Of 84 block games (21 in each of the blocks of 7), there were 43 triples - slightly more than 50 percent. Each of the block winners lead their block in triple peels. Dawson and Mulliner each had five out of six - entitling them to a "Western Killer Red Badge," a local award which honors players who achieve in tournament play an 80 percent peel record, a straight triple, a sextuple or better, or a 12-hoop 2-ball break

Both Corneliuis and Clarke achieved four triples in the Red Block, but Cornelius was undefeated, while Clarke lost two. (Two of Clarke's triples were TPO's).

Californian Wayne Rodoni, second in Mulliner's block, also made four triples in his six games, which is Rodoni's best peeling record so far and perhaps the best peeling performance ever of an American in an international competition. Of eight U.S. players in the tournament, only Rodoni and Stark survived the blocks this year, as they were favored to do among their compatriots. Each of them has reached the final in past years, and both are seasoned players on international teams fielded by the United States. Canada's Leo McBride squeaked into the bottom of the elimination ladder with good wins over three stong opponents - Mik Mehas, Toby Garrison, and Harley Watts.

There have been no sextuples completeed so far, although Mulliner attempted one which was abandoned after a couple of hoops.


GETTING SET FOR THE FINALS DAY SPECTACLE ON SATURDAY

The most notable statistics of the Sonoma-Cutrer World Singles Championship come not from the playing lawns, but from the lavishly produced final day, which includes upwards of 1200 paying guests, 150 volunteers, numerous sponsors, and a wine auction expected to once more break all previous records by raising more than $400,000 for the charities this event benefits - chief among them the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

But preceding the party, the semi-final round begins at 10:00 AM on Saturday, to be following by the final, in which the "holder" - winner of the Medalist Round (among the four block winners) - meets the lone survivor of the elimination round which began early on Friday. One of the 12 players who started the elimination ladder and the three losing Medalist could well win the championship. Indeed, having to play up through the elimination round could be considered an advantage, once the final is reached. That player is well "warmed up," while the "holder" has been idle since the end of the Medalist Round midday on Friday.

MEDALIST ROUND - COMPLETE RESULTS
Jeff Dawson
Debbie Cornelius
Debbie Cornelius
Tony Stephens
Tony Stephens
Stephen Mulliner
26 TPO
26 TP
26
26
26 TP
26 TPO
v
v
v
v
v
v
Stephen Mulliner
Jeff Dawson
Tony Stephens
Jeff Dawson
Stephen Mulliner
Debbie Cornelius
16
0
0
9
6
13

BLUE BLOCK - FINAL RESULTS

Winner, Jeff Dawson, undefeated; second, Aaron Westerby; third, Lewis Palmer; fourth, Simon Williams.

Aaron Westerby
Robert Rebuschatis
Aaron Westerby
Simon Williams
Robert Rebuschatis
26 TP
26
26
26
22
v
v
v
v
v
Colin Pickering
Rhys Thomas
Rhys Thomas
Colin Pickering
Simon Williams
22
4
0
0
14
Jeff Dawson
Jeff Dawson
Lewis Palmer
Lewis Palmer
Rhys Thomas
Aaron Westerby
26
26 TP
26 TP
26
26
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
v
Colin Pickering
Aaron Westerby
Colini Pickering
Rhys Thomas
Simon Williams
Simon Williams
0
9
0
9
9
0
Jeff Dawson
Jeff Dawson
Lewis Palmer
Colin Pickering
Colin Pickering
26 TP
26 TP
26 TP
26
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Lewis Palmer
Rhys Thomas
Robert Rebuschatis
Rhys Thomas
Robert Rebuschatis
23
1
0
0
0
Jeff Dawson
Jeff Dawson
Aaron Westerby
Aaron Westerby
Simon Williams
26
26 TP
26 TP
26
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Robert Rebuschatis
Simon Williams
Lewis Palmer
Robert Rebuschatis
Lewis Palmer
9
2
6
1
2

RED BLOCK - FINAL RESULTS

Winner, Debbie Cornlius, undefeated; second, Steve Jones; third, Chris Clarke; fourth, Jeff Newcombe.

Debbie Cornelius
Debbie Cornelius
Steve Jones
Steve Jones
Jeff Newcombe
26 TP
26 TP
26 TP
26
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Ren Kraft
Rod Williams
Jeff Newcombe
Rod Williams
Ren Kraft
0
1
9
1
10
Chris Clarke
Chris Clarke
Steve Jones
Ren Kraft
Jeff Newcombe
Rod Williams
26 TPO
26 TP
26 TP
26
26
23
v
v
v
v
v
v
Steve Jones
Ren Kraft
Phil Arnold
Rod Williams
Phil Arnold
Jeff Newcombe
13
0
1
24
17
21
Phil Arnold
Phil Arnold
Debbie Cornelius
Debbie Cornelius
Steve Jones
26
20
26 TPO
26
26
v
v
v
v
v
Chris Clarke
Ren Kraft
Chris Clarke
Steve Jones
Ren Kraft
23
17
14
25
4
Chris Clarke
Chris Clarke
Debbie Cornelius
Debbie Cornelius
Rod Williams
26 TP
26 TPO
26
24 TPOT
26
v
v
v
v
v
Jeff Newcombe
Rod Williams
Phil Arnold
Jeff Newcombe
Phil Arnold
0
19
0
23
22

BLACK BLOCK - FINAL RESULTS

Winner, Tony Stephens, with four wins; second, Toby Garrison; third, Steve Comish; fourth, Leo McBride.

Leo McBride
Mik Mehas
Tony Stephens
Tony Stephens
Harley Watts
26
24
26
26 TP
26
v
v
v
v
v
Harley Watts
Erv Peterson
Leo McBride
Erv Peterson
Mik Mehas
17
9
14
2
5
Steve Comish
Toby Garrison
Mik Mehas
Tony Stephens
Harley Watts
Harley Watts
26
26 TP
26
26 TP
23
26
v
v
v
v
v
v
Erv Peterson
Mik Mehas
Steve Comish
Toby Garrison
Tony Stephens
Erv Peterson
4
0
21
0
22
4
Toby Garrison
Leo McBride
Leo McBride
Mik Mehas
Tony Stephens
26
26 TP
26 TP
26
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Steve Comish
Toby Garrison
Mik Mehas
Tony Stephens
Steve Comish
0
12
9
4
0
Steve Comish
Steve Comish
Toby Garrison
Toby Garrison
Erv Peterson
26 TP
26 TP
26
26 TP
26
v
v
v
v
v
Leo McBride
Harley Watts
Erv Peterson
Harley Watts
Leo McBride
0
1
12
6
16

YELLOW BLOCK - FINAL RESULTS

Winner, Stephen Mulliner, undefeated; second, Wayne Rodoni; third, Shane Davis; fourth, Jerry Stark.

Stephen Mulliner
Stephen Mulliner
Wayne Rodoni
Jerry Stark
Jerry Stark
26
26 TP
26 TP
26
26
v
v
v
v
v
Mohammad Kamal
Wayne Rodoni
Tony LeMoignan
Mohammad Kamal
Tony LeMoignan
0
0
0
2
15
Shane Davis
Brett Hewitt
Stephen Mulliner
Stephen Mulliner
Wayne Rodoni
Wayne Rodoni
26
26
26 TP
26 TP
26 TP
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
v
Tony LeMoignan
Tony LeMoignan
Brett Hewitt
Jerry Stark
Shane Davis
Jerry Stark
0
13
0
11
23
11
Brett Hewitt
Brett Hewitt
Tony LeMoignan
Stephen Mullineer
Stephen Mullineer
26
26 TP
22
26 TP
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Shane Davis
Mohammad Kamal
Mohammad Kamal
Shane Davis
Tony LeMoignan
23
2
21
9
14
Shane Davis
Shane Davis
Wayne Rodoni
Wayne Rodoni
Jerry Stark
26 TP
26
26 TP
26 TP
26 TP
v
v
v
v
v
Mohammad Kamal
Jerry Stark
Brett Hewitt
Mohammad Kamal
Brett Hewitt
0
0
9
0
12


Thanks to John Taylor and Mike Orgill for making possible these daily report in CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE. See our report on the final day on Tuesday.


 
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