Ra'anana's Zvika Hadar and Kiryat Ono's Ruthie Gilor each came through in convincing style to win the prestigious Masters Tournament concluded at the Ra'anana club. The annual tournament, inaugurated in 1979, comprises the top 12 seeded players in terms of ranking points earned in the national competitions throughout the year.
In previous years Hadar had come close to the title, with four successive bronze medals from 2002 to 2005, but he has now bettered his previous record with a third successive gold. Starting off in his five-game round robin section, Hadar lost his first game to Ramat Gan's Amir Yaron but went on with four successive wins to top his section and to qualify for the final. Yaron too had won four out of his five games but fell short on shot difference (-10) to Hadar, and had to settle for a share in the bronze with Haifa's Arie Ben-Dor.
Hadar's opponent in the final was Ra'anana's Colin Silberstein, who finished top of his section on shot difference with three wins together with Raymond Sher, Arie Ben-Dor and Boaz Marcus. Hadar's progress through his rounds reached his peak for the final - in which he rarely faltered - to concede only two points to his opponent. But for Silberstein, his appearance in the final was in itself somewhat of a personal triumph. Only days earlier he was doubtful of participating after damaging his bowling hand in a work-related accident. His participation however provided him with an uninterrupted run of 20 successive appearances since his debut in 1990, thereafter winning the title in 2000. Somewhat ironically, though, it was Silberstein who last year allowed Hadar to win their section and then win the title, after Silberstein beat the undefeated challenger Ben-Dor in the very last round.
Raymond Sher needed to win his last round game to qualify for the final but it was against Boaz Marcus to whom he went down after fighting back from 17-5 down to catch up to 17-15 before losing 21-17.
Gilor's win was also one-sided: She allowed her opponent, Ramat Gan's Tzila Gavish, only 5 points. For Gilor it was merely confirmation of her supreme reign amongst Israel's women bowlers, registering now her 5th Masters title, added to her five national singles titles over the last 9 years. In her section's preliminary playoffs Gilor was solely unbeaten after four rounds and with a sufficient shot difference (+41) to qualify for the final, irrespective of her last round to follow. In this game she seemed unconcerned to go down 21-5 to Ramat Gan's Tami Kamzel and to save her energy for her third game of the day in the final.
Gavish in her section was the only one to lose only one of her five games. Second in her section, to share the bronze with Ra'anana's Beverley Polatinsky, was last year's champion, Haifa's Irit Grencel who came through on shot difference against Ramat Gan's Edna Zomberg and Ra'anana's Louise Braverman.
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