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Pressure is on Dillas, says Jones

Photograph by Lawrence TrottSoft hands: Jones chips onto the 17th green where he wrapped up a two-hole win over Mark Phillips. He meets defending champion Dillas in the final today

Arthur Jones accepts Jarryd Dillas, the defending champion, will be the favourite in today’s 36-hole men’s final in the Bermuda Match Play Championships at the Mid Ocean Club.

Tariqah Walikraam will be tipped to retain her women’s title when she meets Katrin Burnie in the final, also 36 holes. Both champions had comfortable semi-final victories in not so comfortable windy and rainy conditions yesterday, with Dillas, the five-times winner, finishing his match with the experienced Robert Vallis, who works in the medical profession, on the 13th hole, 7 and 5.

Walikraam made short work of Carol Jones, winning ten straight holes to complete a 10 and 8 victory. Burnie completed a 7 and 6 victory over Susan Vallis on the 12th hole to clinch the other final spot.

Of the four matches, Jones’s lasted the longest, going down to the 17th hole before a par putt sealed his two-hole victory over Mark Phillips, last year’s losing finalist. Jones did not have things his own way, however, three-down after ten holes before he turned the match around.

“I got to even after 14 when I made a birdie, then won 16 and 17 with pars when he made bogeys to hand it to me,” said Jones, a two-times winner of the tournament. “As an elder statesman, it’s nice to be back in the final.”

Jones admits he will have to be on his game to pull off victory against Dillas. “I certainly know what he’s capable of, he’s the overwhelming favourite, but lets hope he gets nervous playing against one of the old guys.

“With the course so wet it clearly favours the longer hitters. With his length he’s got a huge advantage on the wet conditions. I’ll just have to get into his head, plus my short game will have to be good. Clearly he’ll be the favourite.”

Dillas made short work of another “old” guy, Vallis, as he capitalised on the windy and rainy conditions. “The course, with the wind and rain, was a bit long for ‘Doc’ today and I just took advantage of that,” Dillas said.

“I was happy with how I played, I was solid to the green and over the 13 holes had one birdie, one bogey and the rest pars, so it was stress-free golf for me. He was having some difficulty getting to some of the holes in two. With the conditions so wet you don’t get any ‘run’ and with the wind the balls weren’t flying very far.

“I was solid and really didn’t give him a look-in. I’ve played him many times before, this might even be the first time I’ve beaten him in match play, so I wanted to make sure I played well right to the end.”

Dillas had plenty of time to relax in the clubhouse before learning that Jones would be his opponent in the final. “It can change quite quickly in such a long match so it will be one hole at a time, just trying to tick the holes off,” he said. “I’m driving the ball well right now which helps and keeps me in play all the time.”

The women’s final will start at 7.20am before leaving again for the second 18 holes at 12.08am, while the men’s championship final will begin at 7.28am and 12.16am.

Yesterday senior men’s championship semi-final saw two close matches as Gary Carr beat Tom Eberhard on the first extra hole while Lynn Shackelford was a two hole winner over Gray Yancey, the defending champion.

In consolation semi-final yesterday, Kheary Swan beat Michael Lindo 2-up and Michael McCrimmon beat Spencer Wideman 2-up. In the women’s consolation, Linda Down beat Gina Zangrillo 5 and 4 and Stephanie Lewis-Pullen got by Anne O’Neill 7 and 6. In the senior men’s consolation, Gary Brangan beat William Lang 5 and 3 and Timothy James stopped Angelo Pimental by two holes.