He just missed out on retaining the national fours title, but 24-year-old Christchurch bowler Andrew Kelly still has much to aim for on the greens.
A one-point loss to the great Rowan Brassey in the fours final at New Plymouth on Wednesday prevented Kelly joining Brassey, Gary Lawson, Nick Unkovich, and Sid Giddy as the only skips to have won back-to-back fours titles.
Kelly admitted yesterday he was "pretty gutted" about the outcome of a great final.
"To get from where we were and be so close and fall at the last hurdle is always hard," he said. "But to be part of a final that was such high-calibre is pretty pleasing, and Brassey is a legend and has won seven fours now," Kelly said.
The final might have been one match too far for Kelly's composite four which had to battle for nearly five hours to overcome Wally Marsic in a classic match on Monday.
"We killed 11 ends and played an extra end, so it was effectively a 30-end game; after playing one in the morning," said Kelly.
He admitted that even though his young four was fit, the long game took something out of them.
His four this time was completely different from his winning team last year, and included two other young guns, Chris Le Lievre and Danny Delany, whom he has often played with. On the last end, they held the seven they needed to tie the game and force an extra end, but Brassey rolled a bowl with his final shot and Kelly missed his final roll.
Kelly, the 2010 world junior singles champion who has now played in three national fours finals after being the youngest skip to play one when he was only 17, has plenty of years to add more national laurels.
He has another chance this season in the national club championships after winning the Canterbury singles title a month ago.
This summer, Kelly was unbeaten in singles in the local interclub competition and helped his club Canterbury win the interclub crown for the third time in four seasons.
"My domestic form has been pretty good and I'm knocking on the door internationally," he said.
Kelly, who has played seven times for New Zealand in the under-25 transtasman tests since he was 17, has two big goals: Selection for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and selection for the world championships.
But next up for Kelly is the Stu Buttar Memorial Pairs at Burnside next weekend, where he is teamed up with Nelson bowler Jimmy Pugh. Kelly fits his bowls around his day job helping with earthquake recovery at civil engineering consultancy Structex, and part-time studies for a bachelor of engineering technology at CPIT after receiving his diploma in civil engineering there.