Houlihan’s ready to cope with the heat
Buying a new set of bowls and taking up biking put a silver fern on his shirt, Pat Houlahan says. A sensational win at the national club bowling championship in Invercargill in April when he won the men’s singles led to his selection for the seventh Asia Pacific Merdeka Championships in Malaysia, in which 22 countries will take part from October 1 to 6. Fiercely loyal to Alexandra Bowling Club, which gave him his start 28 years ago, Houlahan also gives his two daughters Kate and Jessica some of the credit for his success, for putting him on a bike about 18 months ago. ‘‘When we went on holiday to see the girls in Port Douglas, they convinced me to get on a bike, setting up a 90km challenge, which I managed to achieve, plus two days of heat stroke.’’ In Queensland’s 30deg Celsius heat and 85 per cent humidity, the 54-year-old businessman’s highly competitive streak was definitely tweaked, and he has became nearly as hooked on biking as he is on bowls. “I’ve probably biked about 7000km since then and the improved fitness has really helped my bowls. I can stay out there on the green all day and keep up my concentration.” Gone are the days when bowls was a game just for retired people, Houlahan said. He competed against a 25-year-old when he won his national title, and reckons it was his newly improved fitness that got him through when he was 3-16 down, fighting back to win 25-24. Having his bowls stolen from his car in Auckland at Christmas last year turned out to be a blessing in disguise, forcing him to buy new ones, a specially designed set of dreamline XGs. He’s hoping the new bowls and fitness will stand him in good stead in Malaysia, but is expecting the greens to be a lot slower, which means his delivery will need to be much more forceful than on New Zealand’s hard and fast turf. The prize money is attractive, US$15,000 if he wins .
Set to go: Pat Houlihan is hoping to bowl over the opposition at the Asia Pacific Merdeka singles championship in Kuala Lumpur next month.