Several big names face challenging sections in today's opening day of fours in the 54th annual South Pacific carnival at five bowling clubs across the Illawarra.
The 10-day tournament is the biggest in the southern hemisphere with around 900 bowlers entering in singles, pairs and fours. The finals are at carnival headquarters Fairy Meadow Bowling Club on Saturday week.
Entries are up slightly on last year with the carnival beginning this morning with 20 sections of fours, followed by sectional play tomorrow in 53 sections in singles and 48 sections of pairs on Saturday.
Pairs champions, father and son Steve and Ben Glasson, are back to defend their title, while defending singles champion Shane Garvey is bidding for a fifth singles crown in 12 years.
The fours competition looks particularly wide open with back-to-back fours champion skip Matt Sargeant not playing this year and his winning Wiseman Park Wollongong City team of 12 months ago playing in different teams.
Glenn Taylor played third for Sargeant last year and will skip a fours team with Albion Park's Dean Aitkin as his third and Taylor's Wiseman Park clubmates Dave Warman as the No 2 and Gary Cooke as lead.
A number of former fours champions will skipper composite teams this carnival including John Green, Scott Bateup and Garvey.
State senior singles runner-up Rick Malley will skip a Windang team, while three teams featuring a father and son - Warren and Jared Hamilton (Bulli), Steve and Ben Glasson (composite) and Eric and Kyle Johannes (Corrimal) should be among a host of contenders.
Among the interesting sectional battles, Garvey will go head-to-head with Australian under-18s star Dylan Skinner (Figtree RSL) at Wiseman Park.
At Corrimal Bowling Club, Robbie Warren will skip a strong Wiseman Park team in a section which includes the Johannes, playing on their home green.
Fairy Meadow will host eight of the 20 sections today, with Corrimal, Wiseman Park, Kiama and Albion Park bowling clubs also hosting matches in the fours competition.
The 20 section winners will play in the post sectional round on Sunday.