Murphy bowled over by World Cup field

BOWLS

Karen Murphy says organisers could not have handpicked a better field for the Bowls World Cup, which begins at Warilla Bowling Club on Tuesday.

Murphy will represent Australia for a record sixth year and joins Warilla's back-to-back World Cup men's champion Jeremy Henry and Australian Indoor winner Tony Wood in leading the charge.

The nine-day event boasts many of the best players from 24 nations, with Murphy describing the women's field as a "who's who" of world-class players.

"Jo Edwards is back to defend, there's Val [Smith], Siti [Zalina Ahmad], Alison [Merrien] and a host of others.

"There's going to be plenty of upsets and whoever lifts the trophy will have played very well."

The World Cup is one major trophy to elude Murphy, who has reached the semis three times and made the final twice in her five previous appearances.

Having clinched a sixth Australian Indoor title to qualify as Australia's representative again this year, Murphy is chasing the triple crown of world titles.

The Shell Cove star won the world Champion of Champions tournament in New Zealand, and world singles championship in Adelaide last November.

"Going for the hat-trick is pretty exciting," she said.

"I'm taking a relaxed approach this time around and really looking forward to playing with the quality of the draw we have here."

Defending champion New Zealand superstar Edwards is the one to beat in the women's draw.

Last year Edwards clinched a fourth title in five years on the Warilla carpet by beating defending champion Guernsey's Alison Merrien in a tie-break decider.

Meanwhile, Henry is chasing a third straight World Cup but rates reigning world indoor champion, Scotland's Stewart Anderson the player to beat.

"Stewart's probably the favourite with his credentials, but anything can happen," Henry said.

Tony Wood joins Henry as Australia's representatives in the men's draw following a stunning victory in the Australian Indoor at Tweed Heads last year.

Warilla are hosting the World Cup for a record 10th year, with the round-robin phase to run from Tuesday through to Sunday.

The men's and women's play-offs are next Monday, with finals day on Wednesday April 16.

Henry takes on Singapore's Christian Huang in his opening sectional-round match at 8.30am, while Murphy faces Dee McSparran from the US at 10.30am.

Wood has an early 8.30am start for his World Cup debut against Neil Furman from the US.

Entry to the tournament is free.

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