Now at the halfway stage as far as the four main disciplines are concerned, the focus switches to the trios.
There will be three squads today (Tuesday) with each team playing three games on the medium lane pattern and a further three games tomorrow on the long condition.
Early forecasts of the eventual medalists have been pretty wide of the mark so we will refrain from placing bets today. However, doubles gold medalists Paulsson and Arup are joining up with Martin Larsen for the first squad of the trios this morning and they must be worth watching. The German bronze medalists are also in action on this squad.
Italy set the early pace, opening up with 716 in the first game with Korea on 686 and the United States and Malaysia on 681, but all things changed rapidly when switching lanes.
Italy swung to 581 and the Americans suffered with 583 but the Malaysians maintained a 649. chinese Taipei came into the picture with 642.
The final game saw scores tighten up but Malaysia took the lead with a final game of 634 for a 1964 total, eight pins ahead of Italy and the United States held third on 1930.
The Malaysians were pleased to be at the top of the leaderboard at the end of three of the six games. “The medium pattern is OK for us,” said leftie alex Liew. “We are confident. we bowled well in the singles on this pattern and we hope that what we bowled today we can continue with tomorrow. ”
“I didn’t have to change my bowling balls today,” added Muhamad Ridhwa. “I just bowled as before.”
Anchorman Aaron Kong said: “The first two games were OK but I had to make small adjustments during the last game. The lanes changed a little. I thought the Americans would do better, but they are still close to us, so we’ll see tomorrow.”
There are two more squads bowling today on the medium pattern and the remaining three games by all three squads will be played tomorrow. then the play-offs for the top four teams are due to commence at 20:00 local time.
Squad 2 saw many teams suffer a roller-coaster ride, starting with good games and then slumping to lower scores in the third. It was the Finns who came through to lead the squad with 1890 but that did not challenge the 1964 set by the Malaysia 1 team on the first squad this morning, so they slotted into sixth place in the overall standings.
Puerto Rico led the first game and then the baton was taken over by Thailand, but Finland came through at the end.
There is one more squad left to bowl this evening and tomorrow all three squads bowl another three-game series on the long oil pattern. The combined six-game score will decide the top four teams advancing to the play-offs for medals.
Much disappointment for America’s second trio of O’Neill, Barnes and Malott on this squad. Their 1885 puts them down into eighth position.
The final squad of the day, squad 3 was another low scoring affair, the participating teams coming well below the standard set on the opening squad this morning.
Denmark had their chances but fluffed the third game, going from 115 over to obscurity. So it remained with French being the squad leaders on 1884 and slot into ninth place in the overall standings. They were followed by the Philippines and Finland.
Squad 2 took to the lanes on the early Wednesday morning shift, now switching to the long oil pattern for their final three games. The highlight of this squad was the opening game between Mexico and the United States which ended 760-727 in favor of the Mexicans. Lead-off Ernesto Franco threw the first ten strikes followed by a 4-7 leave for a 288 opener. Jorge Rosado followed with 241 and Alejandro Cruz anchored with 231 for the 760. The Americans had Bill O’Neill with 247, Chris Barnes 234 and Tommy Jones 246 to total 727. As far as could be seen, these were the only scores to top 700 but there were plenty of good scores across the house, a relief after the low scoring yesterday.
Team USA continued on the crest of the wave to take over the standings with a 738 in the second game, the largest contribution coming from O’Neill yet again with 267. Lesser mortals Barnes and Jones followed up with 235 aand 236 respectively. Once again, this looked to be the only score over 700.
The Americans needed a team total of 657 in the third and final game to top the old trios three-game record of 2121, set by Finland back in 1999 and this they did, handsomely. 249, 226 and 256 from the triplets gave them 731 and they garnered 2196, beating the old record by 75 pins. Just a couple of open frames in the first game brought them up eight pins short of a new six-game record. They needed 4089 and finished with 4081.
Top man for the Americans was once again Bill O’Neill, the strike machine. His games of 247, 267 and 249 brought him home with a 763 series.
The Mexicans did pretty well, too. Finishing in second place on the squad but failing to reach the dizzy heaights of their first game.
(USA Trio photo courtesy Terence Yaw)
In the post match interview, Bill O’Neill said: “I think we were lucky to get out on the first squad today. It was a little bit easier than it was yesterday, so we took advantage of it.”
“It was a pretty good block for me,” added Tommy Jones. ” I needed a good session to get back into the Masters. More importantly, I had two good team-mates that kept me lined up so we had a lot of fun this morning.”
Then the situation was summed up succinctly by Chris Barnes: “If you had told us yesterday after a marginal performance that we would be within a few pins of the overall world championship record today we wouldn’t believe it. Now we’re awfully happy. These guys really struck a lot today.
“Our new record might hold up for a little while. Hopefully we can make a run at it next time around. We came up just eight pins short of the six-game record by making some poor shots yesterday. We didn’t take advantage of what we had on the shorter pattern. We had a great cross today and followed some really good teams.”
Great expectations from the teams on the final squad and although the hopes of many were dashed and fell on stony ground, two teams from this session made it into the top four and therefore will collect medals.
First to get into the frame were the trio from Chinese Taipei, not attaining the lofty heights set by America in this morning’s opening squad, but posting 3914, which was good enough to place them in second place. Mexico, previously holding the runner-up spot were therefore demoted to third and the second American trio garnered sufficient pinfall to move into fourth.
“This is my first world championship and I didn’t expect to come this far to be honest,” said Hung Kun-Yi. “Cheng and Wu did all the work and I’m only a passenger.”
“I was at the last championship in Bangkok and I went home disappointed,” said Cheng Hsing-Chao. “Before I came here, I was determined to do well and I guess my hard work paid off.”
“It’s not just me. It’s a team effort,” said the anchorman, Wu Hao-Ming, who is also debuting at this year’s championships. “We’re not strong in the medium pattern but we managed a good score. Our strength is in the long oil so we knew we had to take the chance.”
So, the play-offs will feature Team USA versus Team USA in one semi-final; Chinese Taipei versus Mexico in the other. The winners of those one-game affairs will, of course, advance to the final, again fought over one game.