It was an all-Team Pergamon semi-final as eed two and three, Robert Andersson and Martin Larsen faced off for the privilege of going up against top seed Mika Koivuniemi in the final.
It was near enough youth versus experience as Andersson, 24, bowed low to his team captain Larsen, 31. It was a nip and tuck affair by the fifth frame, Larsen two pins ahead, 116-114. Then Larsen stamped his authority with a double and kept that margin as Andersson suffered a 5-washout. Larsen the victor, 245-192.
Onto the stage came 'Major' Koivuniemi, heralding what we thought would be a masterclass finale to a fantastic 33rd Barcelona tournament.
Once again, Larsen put his foot down with a heavy hand, opening with a double as the Finn had a 9-spare and then ran into trouble with the 'big four'. He recovered with a couple of doubles but trailed Koivuniemi 146-127 by the sixth frame. Then depression reared its ugly head. Koivuniemi missed the 7-pin, then the 'big five' then chopped the 2-pin from the 2-5 and a baby split remained unconverted. The masterclass fizzled out, Larsen the victor, 203-146.
When was the last time we saw a score less than 150 in a stepladder final, we asked ourselves.
"Mika (koivuniemi) has been bowling unbelievably for I don't know how long," commented Larsen, "and today he just killed us (in final rounds). He was running us over. The only way I thought I had a good chance to beat him was that the lane pair was so different. I bowled the semi-final against Andersson and I thought he might not find the line as I found it and that was pretty much what happened. he left lane hooked too much and it took Mika too long to figure it out. Lane six is really tight. I played the pair differently and luckily got away with it. for the final I was the one who noticed it more and that is why I won."
Enthusiastic supporters of Larsen were partner Diana and new baby Isabella, born on January 1.
So ended yet another Ciutat de Barcelona, one of the most popular tournaments on the European Bowling Tour, centainly that applies to Martin Larsen. Can you name a more popular Swede?