Cleaver is King of the green

PUBLISHED: 14:34 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:24 10 June 2010

P8231-30-08AW Budleigh Bowls finals. Chris Cleaver from phear Park. pic by Alex Walton

P8231-30-08AW Budleigh Bowls finals. Chris Cleaver from phear Park. pic by Alex Walton

Copyright Archant Ltd

AT the age of 19, and just seven years after picking up his first set of woods, Chris Cleaver (pictured left) has written himself in to the record books as the youngest ever winner of the Budleigh Bowling Club's men's singles title in some 81 years

AT the age of 19, and just seven years after picking up his first set of woods, Chris Cleaver (pictured left) has written himself in to the record books as the youngest ever winner of the Budleigh Bowling Club's men's singles title in some 81 years of the competition being played.Cleaver, who combines serving up some exceptional bowling with his studies as a student at the London School of Economics where he is doing a degree in Human Geography, confesses that the outdoor game is not actually his favoured discipline: "I do prefer to play indoors as without doubt the skill levels are very much more acute and you really do need to find a consistent level of performance, but I do, of course, enjoy the outdoor game as well."Cleaver was a tender 12 years of age when his grandfather, Francis Cleaver, at the time the Chairman of Phear Park Bowls Club, handed him a set of woods. Sadly Francis passed away last year and so was not able to share in the glory of his grandson claiming victory at Budleigh: "I am sure he will have enjoyed the moment with immense pride had he still been with us," said Cleaver, who is quick to acknowledge that it was his late grandfather who was the initial driving force behind him taking up the game."My grandfather loved the sport and he got me started and indeed set me on my way."It is the Cleaver forehand that is his 'strength', although on both grass and indeed indoors he is comfortable using backhand or forehand.When he is back home, taking a break from his studies, he plays out of Phear Park and, when at university, he plays at The City of London Bowling Club.That club, as its title suggests, has a mix of players both from high business and the universities and offers a varied level of competition for Cleaver, who is quite happy to play singles, doubles, or indeed in a bigger team.Whilst he says that he prefers to play indoors, he was not able to play too much last winter as his studies took centre stage.He does have a number of targets still to achieve with regard to his bowling and one of them is centerd very much on Worthing, the home of the National Championships. Cleaver first played there two years ago in the National Finals of the Under-25 category and returned last year as part of the Devon Middleton Cup side but he remains determined to one day seal individual honours on the highest stage: "Winning an individual national title at Worthing remains very much the number one ambition."Last year Cleaver was the winner of the Phear Park Open Championship's men's singles competition, and he also claimed the Phear Park 'in house', men's handicap top honour.There's little doubt that with the trophy cabinet at his mother's home, is going to need to be enlarged as Cleaver continues to add to the impressive collection of titles he has secured in the seven short years since he picked up that first set of woods given to him by his dear late grandfather.

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