TOM Vickers held off a challenge from one of his closest friends to win the Rudheath Spring Open title for the first time on Saturday.

The Winsford bowler appeared on course for an emphatic victory in the final when he established a 16-3 lead against Wharton Cons teammate Daniel Nixon.

A break of eight for his rival was a show of defiance before the 30-year-old established control again.

Nixon prolonged the showpiece with two impressive strikes, the second of those to take an end when his opponent lay game, before Vickers completed a 21-12 win at the Middlewich Road green.

It was his fourth of an evening that started with a comfortable 21-9 success against Northwich ace Jason Corners (Castle).

Vickers had to expend more effort to beat 2015 champion Matt Gilmore at the quarter-finals stage, edging a close encounter to 19.

A last-four meeting with Tommy Johnstone was tight before he moved clear in the closing stages – a signal he was feeling at ease on a surface by then running more slowly than it had at the start.

Nixon had probably been the pick of the field, comfortably dispatching Dean Butler, Daniel Petcher and Glyn Storer, before his form dipped at precisely the moment he needed it most.

Another Winsford bowler, Martin Kettle, celebrated a notable victory in the last 16 when he ended the challenge of 2017 winner – and former British Individual Merit champion – Darren Plenderleith in in his opener.

However Storer halted his progress in the last eight.

Callum Wraight, the only man to have won the competition twice since its inaugural edition in 2009, lost out to Johnstone in the quarter-finals


Rudheath Spring Open 

Finals night 

Saturday, May 18 

Last 16: Martin Kettle 21-17 Darren Plenderleith; Sam Bailey 18-21 Glyn Storer; Daniel Nixon 21-10 Dean Butler; Ben Phillips 16-21 Daniel Petcher; Jason Cornes 9-21 Tom Vickers; Matt Gilmore 21-17 Mark Sutton; Carl Fielding 10-21 Tommy Johnstone; Gordon Mackintosh 21-21 Callum Wraight. 

Last eight: Kettle 13-21 Storer; Nixon 21-12 Petcher; Vickers 21-19 Gilmore; Johnstone 21-17 Wraight. 

Last four: Storer 7-21 Nixon; Vickers 21-14 Johnstone. 

Final: Nixon 12-21 Vickers. 

Prize fund 

£800 Winner 

£400 Runner-up 

£200 Semi-finalists 

£100 Quarter-finalists 

£75 Last 16 

£40 Last 32