They work for the same company and are clubmates at Bowls Hastings but you won't catch Dean Drummond and Murray Glassey sharing notes before they plant their mats on the greens at the clubrooms.

Just as Drummond and Glassey ply their trade under different roofs of Heinz Watties factories in Hastings, they also are plotting contrasting paths in the quest for New Zealand Professional Bowls Association (NZPBA) glory.

You see, the blokes, who have played alongside each other in club teams, don't have a choice in the NZPBA circuit because once the pack of cards are shuffled in the ranking stakes, the Hawke's Bay pair will want to be on the top deck.

"He's definitely the one to chase. He's still the best around," says Drummond with a hollow laugh, priming himself to be up against Glassey in another ranking singles and an international qualifiers at Bowls Hastings this weekend.

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Glassey's stranglehold on the NZPBA rankings over the past three years is under threat. Craig Merrilees, of Southland, has leapfrogged him to the top rung in the race to be the top seed in the country.

Despite falling early in the Invercargill world indoor singles qualifier, Merrilees won the warm-up ranking singles event a fortnight ago.

"He might have just had an off weekend but he'll be coming back strong this weekend so you can't write him off," says Drummond, with competition starting from 8.30am today.

A classy Glassey says he has been competing but bowing out earlier than he would have liked.

"Other things are happening in my life but the opposition is getting better as well so you've got to play well or you just get beaten," says the 42-year-old, appreciating he'll carry a target on his back with young guns coming through the ranks.

The winning smile of Murray Glassey (right) says it all after he beat Scott MacKenzie, of Masterton, in the international singles tourney in 2016. Photo/file
The winning smile of Murray Glassey (right) says it all after he beat Scott MacKenzie, of Masterton, in the international singles tourney in 2016. Photo/file

Glassey, who has won multiple trips to the UK, doesn't expect any home advantages this weekend because the quality of rivals means what he got away with once isn't a given anymore.

"I'm not that far away from No 1 again — only two or three wins from a maximum of 10 games at the weekend so I could take my spot back again."

It's tough enough to become No 1, he says, but even tougher to stay there, especially if someone raises the stakes.

"Dean's putting a lot of time into his game recently so he deserves everything he gets," says Glassey, adding his clubmate is in with a chance to secure another national playoff berth to fulfil his maiden overseas stint.

A humming Drummond put in a splendid performance in winning all of his 10 matches to clinch both the ranking singles and world indoor singles qualifier tournaments last weekend.

The 24-year-old climbs to third in the New Zealand provisional rankings ahead of Andrew Kelly (Canterbury) and Bradley Down (Wellington).

"I just had a good weekend, I guess," he says when asked what's working for him.

But that response belies Drummond's domination because he has qualified at least three more times from the Bay previously to the nationals.

He suspects it's consistency but he needs to take a bit more of that top claim a national title.

Last year Drummond reached the semifinals of the nationals staged in Wellington. The singles winner books a flight to an international tournament usually staged in the United Kingdom.

"I've been putting a bit of practice into it in winter," he says, frequenting the club two to three times a week to hone his skills.

Among individual pursuits was his desire to make the top five to represent New Zealand against the Australians in the annual Transtasman Challenge.

Dean Drummond, of Hastings, is still in the hunt for his first PBA international stint. Photo/file
Dean Drummond, of Hastings, is still in the hunt for his first PBA international stint. Photo/file

This weekend all seven venues are in action again with qualifiers for the international open singles to find a national representative to play in Blackpool, England, in March next year.

No doubt going there "will be awesome".

"A trip overseas to play some bowls would be great," says the former Hastings Boys' High School student.

Drummond also rates Dave Henderson, of Bowls Taradale, and Terry Johnson, of Palmerston North, as contenders for the title in Hastings this weekend.

"Anyone can cause you troubles on any given day so you just have to keep a lookout on all of them," he says.

Rhonda Adams, of Taranaki, continues to lead the race for the top woman in the NZPBA rankings though her fellow New Plymouth venue competitor, Cathy Andrews, is fast closing the gap after another final going down to Craig Johns in their world indoor singles qualifier.

Linda Ralph went one better winning the Auckland World Indoor singles qualifier and is the third best woman in the current rankings.

The best rookie after two of three qualifier weekends is Southland's Kerry Heffer who will be appearing at the NZPBA finals weekend in Hastings next month, after winning Invercargill's world indoor pairs qualifier in June.

Shane Elliott won the world indoor singles qualifier last weekend and will attend his fourth finals weekend.

The only multiple winner of qualifiers so far this year is last year's Rookie of the Year, Ray Martin, of Wellington, who added to his Scottish singles qualifier after taking out Wellington's world indoor singles qualifier as well.

Hamilton's world indoor singles qualifier saw a welcome return by Chris Lourie, of Waikato, to the winner's circle.

The former NZ No 1 played twice on the World Bowls Tour in the UK and four times in the national team to play Australia up until 2013 but has played fleetingly since then until this year.

Lourie is now the manager of the Frankton Railway venue for PBA qualifiers.

Draws
Ranking singles today:
1st rd 8.30am:
(93=) Lisa Carlson v (277) Wayne Stewart; (226=) Dave Porteous v (241=)James Bragger; (122=) John McLaughlin v (102=) Richard Kupa; (226=) Mike Amy v (241=) Steve Asquith; (57) Gavin Keighley v (113=) Ian Mason; (135=) Steve Love v (7) Terry Johnson; (212=) Merv Brown v (63=) Sheryl Viggers; (102=) Bunny Kupa v (113=) Tilly Carlson.

1st rd 10am: (180=) Scotty McGavin v (226=) Jack Giddy; (54=) Grant Sargison v (2) Murray Glassey; (135=) Peter Jones v (119=) David Jones; (96=) Aaron Bryant v (253=) Phil Tasker-Poland; (3) Dean Drummond v (253=) Jae Johnson; (143=) Charles Haronga v (26=)Daryl Johnson; (253=) Tasha Haronga v (241=) Bryan Gibson.

2nd rd 10am: (107=)Dave Henderson v winner L.Carlson/Stewart.

International singles qualifier
Tomorrow from 8.30am:

1st rd: (277) Wayne Stewart v (96=) Aaron Bryant; (2) Murray Glassey v (102=) Bunny Kupa; (253=) Tasha Haronga v (3) Dean Drummond; (180=) Scotty McGavin v (57) Gavin Keighley; (102=) Richard Kupa v (7) Terry Johnson; (26=) Daryl Johnson v (119=) David Jones; (122=) John McLaughlin v (102=) Mike Isaacson; (135=) Steve Love v (253=) Phil Tasker-Poland; (212=) Merv Brown v (226=) Mike Amy; (93=) Lisa Carlson v (54=) Grant Sargison; (113=) Ian Mason v (241=) Bryan Gibson; (253=) Jae Johnson v (113=) Tilly Carlson; (135=) Peter Jones v (226=) Dave Porteous; (107=) Dave Henderson v (241=) James Bragger; (143=) Charles Haronga v (226=) Jack Giddy.

2nd rd: (241=) Steve Asquith v winner Stewart/Bryant.

Terry Johnson plays in the semifinals of the NZPBA championship at Bowls Hastings last year. Photo/Warren Buckland
Terry Johnson plays in the semifinals of the NZPBA championship at Bowls Hastings last year. Photo/Warren Buckland