Once Gary Baird got on a roll he was impossible to stop.
Baird came into the step ladder portion of the men’s singles at the Open provincial 5-pin bowling championships at Heritage Lanes Wednesday in fifth place. Five games later he came away with his first provincial title.
Baird downed Mike Hirsche from the Southern Zone 313-264 and 319-301 in the final.
“I was strong all day and seemed to improve as the day wore on,” said Baird, who will compete at the nationals in Calgary.
Baird had a 10-game 2,530 total during preliminary play, which gave him fifth place, 14 pins ahead of Ian Dobbie of Calgary and 11 back of Central Alberta teammate Shelby Chrest of Olds.
Baird downed Chrest 308-176 in the first game of the step ladder playdowns, then had a battle with Victor Fobert, also a Central Alberta teammate, before recording a 239-230 victory. Baird advanced into the final with a 293-203 win over Derek Home of Calgary.
Hirsche finished first in preliminary play with a 2,641 total, which meant he had to be defeated twice in the final.
“It’s the first time I’ve faced Mike. I’ve seen him play before, but that’s all,” said Baird, who has been bowling for close to 30 years, so isn’t afraid of a little pressure.
“I’ve been in the final before and lost, so I know what it’s all about and because I’ve been bowling for so long there isn’t as much pressure,” he said.
The fact he’s competing at his home club also helps.
“It does, but everyone here has bowled enough that they get used to the lanes quickly,” said Baird, who believes the competition coming out of Central Alberta played a role in his victory.
“It’s tough to just get out of the zone, which definitely helps prepare you,” he said.
Overall it’s been a good year says Baird.
“It seems that I’m more consistent this year, which makes you more comfortable and when you’re comfortable the better it is.”
Baird is far from finished this week as he now turns his attention to the men’s team event, which runs today through Saturday.
“That’s fun, there’s a lot of camaraderie as we’re all close friends,” he said.
Baird has competed in five nationals in the team competition and helped win four gold. This year he wants to add a singles title to his resume.
“For sure, but once you get there everyone is good and everyone is used to the pressure.”
Meanwhile, Bonnie McDonald of Northern Zone won the women’s singles title defeating Central Alberta’s Barb Taillon of Drumheller 247-177 in first game of the final.
Taillon finished fourth in the 10-game preliminary competition with a 2,375 total. She then defeated fifth-place finisher Michelle Hoyle of Edmonton 246-233, downed Dianne Violini of the Southern Zone 247-193 and Caity Shearer of Edmonton 251-215.
• The first of 25 rounds of team competition in men’s, women’s and mixed begins at 8:30 a.m. today with the ninth draw at 7:20 p.m. There will be another nine draws on Friday with the final seven on Saturday, with the final draw at 4 p.m.