Maybe 1324 over the first six games of the 2010 World Men's championships is rather a humble score for such a major event, but it was good enough to place Korea's Young-Seon Cho, 24, at the top of the leader board after the first of five squads.
Romping home with hg highest game of 256, Choi was one of only two players on the squad to roll all six games of 200 or over.
It was a case of bitter disappointment for Rhino Page and Patrick Allen of the United States, Doubles gold medalists in the 2008 World Men's Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. Page finished ninth of the squad with 1235 and Allen fell back to 1172 for 23rd spot.
There are three Singles squads on the schedule for today and the medals will be decided tomorrow (Saturday).
Photo courtesy Terence Yaw.
JAPAN TAKE OVER IN SQUAD 2:
Young Fujii Nobuhito, 22, from a suburb of Tokyo is playing in his firxt World Championships and has made his mark by
taking over first place on the Singles leadboard after Squad 2 with 1347, 23 pins better than the leading score after the first squad, set by Korea's Yeong-Seon Cho.
Nobuhito, a bowling centre employee in Tokyo, won Squad 2 by just a single pin over Dong-Chul Jang of Korea, needing every pin of his 210 sixth game.
"I am really happy to be in this beautiful bowling center," said Fujii, through his interpreter, the team manager. "This is the first time in my career that I have done so well. I am really surprised that I have beaten the Americans. My only other major achievement was the gold medal in the doubles of the East Asian Games last year."
UOTILA - THE 300 MAN
The first 300 of the 2010 World Men's Championships has been performed by the genteel hands of talented Finn Pasi Uotila, 33, from Espoo, near Finland's capital Helsinki.
Opening his account with 410 over the first two games of Squad 3, he slotted into the 38-foot, medium oil condition with twelve great strikes to take his tally to 44 perfectos in his illustrious career.
Uotila has two bronze medals from previous World Men's Championships, won in each of the five-person team and doubles in the 2008 World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.
(Photo courtesy Seija Lankinen)
Then, lo and behold, after a sixth game tussle between Uotila, Franco of Mexico and Ireland's Bride, all separated by just one pin, our fantastic Finn came through to not only win the squad but to take over as nightweatchman tournament leader.
"It was totally different here to what is was yesterday in the practice session," remarked Uotila. "I tried to play from the rightand within ten minutes I knew it was not going to work, so I had to figure out a new game plan. I didn't play that bad when I got 182 for the first game but then I made adjustments and changed the ball already for the second game. I played with that ball until the end. Obviously I had one big game with the 300 and the others were a little over 200, but hopefully that is enough.
"I knew the scores were tight going into the last game but of course when I played my tenth frame I didn't know what the other guys did. I saw that the score to beat was 1346 and I had to hit two strikes to beat that score. I managed to get two strikes and nine for 157 over and then I heard that the Mexican stayed with 1353. Obviously I feel pretty sad for him as he left a solid eight with the second ball of his tenth frame. Hopefully that will not cost him a place in the top four.
"This bowling center is fantastic and is ideal for a tournament like this. You just couldn't have a better place. There are bigger centers when you count the lanes in the United States, but the spectator area here is fantastic. The only minus is the pins. I was hoping that they wouldn't use these pins, but it is what it is.
"Going from pair to pair across the house was the same story as every bowling center. All the pairs were different. We had some notes about what was going on so they worked pretty well for us, so no trouble because of that.
"Playing the last Men's World in Bangkok was going to be my only World Championships but as we didn't get a gold medal I decided to come back. Hopefully it is going to happen here."
THE PENULTIMATE SINGLES SQUAD
Saturday morning's penultimate Singles squad, still bowling on the medium (45 foot) lane condition, featured several of the big guns of tenpin bowling. Team USA's Chris Barnes and Bill O'Neill were the main focus of attention and waiting quietly in the wings were European aces Stuart Williams and Dominic Barrett, both from England.
Other howizters on the firing line are the formidable duo of Robert Andersson and Martin Larsen of Sweden, Doubles gold medalists in the 2006 WMC in Korea, and Korea's Choi Bok-Eum, 2008 WMC All Events champion.
Barnes soon registered his intent to be number one on the leaderboard by shooting 300 in his second game, the second of this year's Championships. But the early overall squad leader was Paul Trotter of Australia. He compiled scores of 726 over his first three games, six pins better than Barnes and with O'Neill third with 702.
But the spoilsport to the wave crest ride of the Americans and the Aussie was young Bok-Eum Choi from Korea who took the squad by the bootstraps with a 277 in the fifth game to take over as frontrunner with a healthy buffer over the chasing group. Choi, 23, from Seoul, has had an outstanding junior career and now challenges the older group, placing second on this squad.
Come the curtain on the six games this morning, it was Dominic Barrett from Colchester, England who held the reins, setting
1395 as the new target for the final squad.
"I had a game plan this morning and things went pretty well. I was 80 over after four games and I knew I had to do well with the last two games. I was following the Americans and had a 247 and then a 268 to finish," said Barrett. "The fourth squad has been the strongest so far and the better bowlers are more accurate so the transition is a lot easier. With having so many good bowlers on the squad it makes the lanes a bit more playable. Bowling on the later squads you are always chasing a number so I was pleased to have a platform on which to build for the final games. I think 170 or thereabouts will be needed for the top four this evening."
INTO THE FINAL GO ................
The leading four players after the six qualifying games for all competitors now advance to the one-game semi-finals, then the winners of those matches will face off for the gold medal.
Squad 5 saw roller coaster rides for many players vying for the top four places, attemtping to topple Dominic Barrett from his lofty perch.
The line-up for the semis is comprised of Dominic Barrett, Bok-Eum Choi, Chris Barnes and Bill O'Neill.
But the hard luck story for this round was for the UAE's Sayed Ibrahim Alhashimi, 37, from the air force in Dubai. He was well in contention to take his place in the semi-finals but slumped to a 191 in the last game after a disaster of a 7-10 split in the ninth frame, leaving him out in the cold when the list for the semis was announced by just four pins.
The UAE cocach, former pro bowler Patrick Healey Jr from Niagara Fall, NY was bitterly disappointed that Alhashimi just missed out: "We had the breaks in some of the games earlier. Now it hurts. But I'm going to pair Alhashimi along with Al Suwaidi in the doubles tomorrow. I'm really proud of them and of their fight, they have a lot of spirit and a lot of heart. I'm really happy with what I do and of the progress we are making."
GOLD AND BRONZE FOR THE UNITED STATES
Bill O'Neill kept the American stars and stripes flying high by capturing the first gold medal of the 2010 World Men's Championships, defeating Korea's Choi Bok-Eum, 244-202, in the final.
O'Neill had a low scoring encounter in the semi-final against english star Dominic Barrett, emerging the victor, 187-170.
Choi Bok-Eum had a more convincing win over Chris Barnes of the United States, 217-191.
"This feels pretty good," commented Bill O'Neill on relaxing after the medal presentation. "It was great to be in the top four. I got really lucky in the first match of the semi-final against Barrett. I didn't bowl a great game, but I survived and made a really good ball change in the championship match. I moved about ten boards right and tried to play much straighter and it worked out.
"Lanes 9 and 10 were really tough. Both Barrett and I had a problem getting to the pocket and that was really a grind. In the championship match (on 11-12) I felt a lot more comfortable because my ball reaction was a lot better. I was throwing the ball better because of that and it made it a lot easier.
"I changed my game plan for the final. I knew I could only expect to bowl around 210 if I stayed left, and that wasn't going to win, so I used a ball with 500 grit and stayed right. Fortunately, it worked out.
"I won two PBA titles last year and internationally I was second in this year's Aalborg International in Denmark. I won the US Open in March and got married in May, so it has been a pretty good year, and here I am with the gold medal in my first World Championships.
"The expectations are always really high for me, also for the rest of our guys. We figure that we not only have the best team physically, but also mentally. We can read the lanes better than anyone else in the world, and I think that puts us apart.
"I bowl against the best bowlers in the world on a regular basis, so nobody scares me. I've bowled against Walter Ray (Williams) many times, so if I can beat him I can get anyone out there."
Chris Barnes was, of course, disappointed to only have the bronze medal but also pleased to have a medal around his neck. "I'm pleased to have had a chance to have bowled for the medal and if I could have figured out the right lane I think O'Neill and I could have bowled each other for the title. But I'm extremely happy for Bill, he bowled fantastic, made a great move to the right in the final and had nine great shots. The pair of lanes for O;Neill and Barrett looked to be brutal. some of these pairs at the low end of the center are pretty hard. One of the pair seems to hook a lot sooner, sometimes eight feet, and it is difficult to get matched up.We're just learning about this center and how to figure out those challenges. We're getting better as we go along and Bill figured out a trick for him today and we'll try to apply that across the board.
"I saw Choi Bok-Eum at the last World Championship in Thailand and watched him bowling for every medal all week. We know what kind of talent he has, and the rest of the Korean team. I knew in practice that he was going to hit the pocket every time. He gave me some chances, but when I moved to the left the ball hooked more and when I went to the right it stayed to the right.
"The bronze medal adds to the bronze I won in 1995 in the World Championships in Reno, United States, so they are the only individual medals I have won in world championships. A little disappointing as when you get to this spot and have a chance, you like to take advantage of it.I'm happy with my medal and ecstatic for Bill and his gold medal."
"Yes, I am disappointed to only have the bronze medal," Dominic Barrett told us. "Once you are in the top four the goal is for gold but the chance is only 25 per cent. I had a game plan with an instinct I didn't follow and just played the match instead of trying something. That cost me in the end, but I learned a lot from it so next time I will trust my instinct a little bit more.
"Lane 9 was pretty tough for me. Bill thought lane 10 hooked a little bit more, which I actually liked, and that was the factor in the end. I should have played them a little bit differently but now it is all in hindsight.
"Now I've got to look ahead to the doubles event. I'm bowling well and I want that to continue. I'll be bowling with Paul Moor, who is one of the best left-handers, so I think we have a great chance in that. I look forward to a day off before we play to gather my thoughts and get some rest."
Photo courtesy Terence Yaw
Final Result: Gold: Bill O'Neill, United States; Silver: Choi Bok-Eum, Korea; Bronze: Dominic Barrett, England and Chris Barnes, United States.
Full results aand information, see: www.bowling-wm.de
FINAL SINGLES STANDINGS:
|3.||United States||Barnes, Chris||178||300||224||225||214||234||1375|
|4.||United States||O'Neill, Bill||257||236||227||199||197||256||1372|
|5.||United Arab Emirates||Al Hashemi, Sayed Ibrahim||221||215||238||268||235||191||1368|
|15.||United Arab Emirates||Al Suwaidi, Hussain||244||276||180||253||193||172||1318|
|17.||Norway||Olsen, Svein Roger||211||174||233||216||267||204||1305|
|18.||Chinese Taipei||Cheng, Hsing-Chao||207||268||165||215||210||234||1299|
|20.||Kuwait||Al Ragheeb, Fahad||235||198||232||201||229||202||1297|
|26.||Puerto Rico||Sanchez, Gabriel||208||203||219||199||191||258||1278|
|27.||United States||Malott, Wes||200||210||211||237||229||191||1278|
|38.||China||Du, Jian Chao||217||207||221||206||203||202||1256|
|39.||Iceland||Ragnarsson, Jon Ingi||207||208||216||202||197||224||1254|
|41.||United Arab Emirates||Al Attar, Mahmood||195||236||215||208||201||197||1252|
|42.||United States||Jones, Tommy||208||204||209||199||224||206||1250|
|43.||Malaysia||Aiman, Muhamad Nur||203||213||222||235||184||190||1247|
|45.||Puerto Rico||Rodriguez, Luis||243||190||205||172||234||202||1246|
|46.||Indonesia||Lalisang, Ryan Leonard||203||193||183||227||191||247||1244|
|50.||Malaysia||Ang, Adrian Hsien Loong||190||208||231||268||149||194||1240|