Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - SPORT - EMMA GREEN­WOOD @Em­maGreen­wood12

STEPHANIE Gil­more has blown a golden op­por­tu­nity to put her­self back in the World Surf League ti­tle race de­spite beat­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Tyler Wright at the Swatch Pro in Cal­i­for­nia.

Gil­more’s win over Wright in their knock­out Round 4 clash not only al­lowed her to ad­vance at the event at the famed Lower Tres­tles break but halted the run of the tour leader, open­ing the door for Gil­more to reignite her bid for a record-equalling sev­enth crown.

The Tweed Heads surfer won the open­ing event of the year at Snap­per Rocks, start­ing the push to equal Layne Beach­ley’s record of seven world ti­tles.

De­spite a golden start on the Aus­tralian leg of the tour, where she picked up second and third plac­ings at Bells Beach and Mar­garet River, Gil­more had fallen back to fourth in the rank­ings af­ter fail­ing to make the quar­ter-fi- nals in Fiji, or at the US Open. But a shock loss to Brazil­ian Sil­vana Lima in the quar­ters de­railed Gil­more’s bid to make ground on Wright, Sally Fitzgib­bons and Court­ney Con­logue.

While Lima and Gil­more traded ex­cel­lent open­ing scores in their heat, there were few waves on of­fer un­til the fi­nal minute, when the pair traded blows again.

Lima came up trumps on both oc­ca­sions though, with Gil­more knocked out and fin- ish­ing with a fifth plac­ing. Fitzgib­bons lost her quar­ter-fi­nal also in a re­sult that could have an even greater im­pact on the sea­son.

The NSW surfer took the tour lead af­ter Wright’s loss but may not end up in the tour leader’s jersey for the next event, in Por­tu­gal, af­ter she was beaten by Court­ney Con­logue, who can pass her if she wins through to the Swatch Pro fi­nal.

Con­logue made a slow start to the sea­son and is car­ry­ing two ninth plac­ings – re­sults she will want to dis­card – but is the only woman to have won two events on tour this sea­son.

It’s now up to Aussie young gun Keely An­drew to knock her out in the semi-fi­nals to pre­serve Aus­tralia’s hold on the tour lead.

If Con­logue loses her semi and fin­ishes in third place over­all, Fitzgib­bons will wear the yel­low jersey to Por­tu­gal.

But if the Cal­i­for­nian steps into the fi­nal at Tres­tles, she will take the tour lead.

Stephanie Gil­more missed an op­por­tu­nity in her world bid.

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