Mark Royal is on the road to redemption as he heads to Blackpool this week for the Cooperative Funeralcare International Championships.
The 38-year-old from Stowmarket is hitting the road on the back of a disappointing display at the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines World Indoor Bowls Championships, which resulted in a dramatic second-round exit to Robert Paxton.
After easing past South African Tracy Meyeridricks 14-3, 13-0 in the previous round, Royal looked on course for a quarter-final berth at 10-3, 7-3 up before a disastrous collapse saw Paxton respond to claim victory, leaving Royal’s dreams of a final appearance shattered.
“I’m still not over the defeat if I’m honest,” conceded a downcast Royal.
“I don’t think I did much wrong but after dominating early on, it all changed and out of the blue I was behind.
“I missed a lot of chances after looking likely I was going to win and that is devastating.
“If I had won that I think I would have a good chance to progress further and would have fancied getting to at least the semi-finals, but it wasn’t to be.”
However, fortunately for the world number seven, immediate salvation could come at the Newton Hall Indoor Bowls Centre, Newton Hall Holiday Park, Staning, on Monday, as he kicks off his quest for silverware with a first-round encounter against Scott Kennedy.
Victory there could conjure up a mouth-watering reunion with last week’s foe Paxton, if he in turn can overcome Welshman Ross Owen, a prospect Royal is relishing as he aims to bounce back from a disappointing past seven days.
“It is strange to have another tournament so close to the World Championships, but it is a great opportunity for me put last week behind me,” he added.
“Despite being disappointed about my early exit from the competition, I was playing well and I think there is enough momentum to take forward, I’m ready to challenge again.
“Blackpool will give me a great chance to bounce back and there is also the chance of some revenge against Robert Paxton if we both get through the first round.
“However, my main aim is to stay up in the world rankings and if I can get to the quarter-finals or semis that would be great.”