It is all now to the nitty-gritty as we go into the final qualifying day and only 27 places are up for grabs. The 15 squad winners all automatically go through to the finals and they will be joined by leaders 1 - 27. Making up the total to 48 for the stage one of the finals will be six women who have not made the cut, a unique facet in Catalonia.
Currently, the number one on the leader board is Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi, knocking Malaysia's Zulmazran Zulkifli off his perch on last night's final squad by a mere three pins. Some consolation for the Asians is that Zandra Aziela on the Malaysian team is the leading lady, holding 'lucky' 13th place for the time being.
After heavily dominating the San Marino Open last week in Serravalle, the Malaysians now have only five players in the top 25 and have not mastered this typical Catalonian lane condition anywhere near the expected level. However, second-placed Zulmazran Zulkifli, 'Zul' to all, says that he loves bowling in Europe because the lanes are much easier than the drier conditions found out in Asia. It is his ambition to spend a season bowling on the European tour. Any sponsors?
It is seldom that results are seen without a Team Pergamon player, the elite Swedish team, at or near the top of the standings, so no surprise that Johan Hellden from Falkenberg emerged as leader of the opening squad on Saturday morning, posting 1340 to clinch the top score by 15 points from Frenchwoman Lauriane Celie.
"It was tough going across the lanes today and I switched bowling balls a couple of times," the lithe Swede commented. "So I am pleased that I now have a place in the final tomorrow so can rest up now."
Hellden is having quite a good year. He was runner-up to Osku Palermaa in the Dream Bowl Palace Open in Munich, Germany and placed high in a Super Six event back home in Sweden.
SQUAD 13: Alas, alack and cor blimey mate! It came to the end of this squad and England's Dominic Barrett just needed a good tenth frame to bring him into the 1400 club. His first ball left the 6-10. His second chopped the six and so he finished with 1383 but, most important, won the squad with a clear margin over local hero and Catalonian coach Marcial Ovide's 1350.
Just recently married Rikke Holm Agerbo, nee Rasmussen, wife of Jesper Agerbo, the copenhagen pro shop proprietor, managed to be over 1300 on a nother low scoring squad, coming home with 1317 including her eight pins per game bonus.
Barrett was his usual forthcoming self when the time came for the post-match interview. Now fully recovered from his injuries sustained during his quad bike adventures in Saudi Arabia where he broke his left shoulder and a couple of ribs, he told us: "This wass my fourth squad, so I've got a good idea of how the lanes are playing. With these long formats you can play your way into a tournament. Yesterday I felt confident that I could get something going. I'm not going to get that every time, but today things worked out.
"With the scores being carried over, you need every pin in qualifying and Mika's 1433 was what I was going after today, so missing that tenth frame spare was a disappointment.
"There were so many women bowling on the squad that the lanes got really tight with so much carry-down as they all don't have the rev rate that the guys do, so there wasn't much friction. Towards the end I shuddered a little as I couldn't get my ball to hook down the lane as I would like but I was happy with my score and I'm not too far behind Mika tomorrow for the final.
"I know all too well how the finals work here and have had some good results so I hope to do that again tomorrow."
Team Pergamon players from Sweden are quite accustomed to ruling the roost and, in fact, are well known for that fact. However, they do have the occasional hiccup like being beaten in the Swedish Championships, but not today.
On this morning's opening squad team member Johan Hellden took the honors. Not to be outdone, team captain Martin Larsen shone through to win the penultimate qualifying squad with a humble 1368 and thereby joins the club to compete in tomorrow's finals. "But I'm sure an earlier score would have seen me qualify anyway," he said.
Defending champion Gery Verbruggen from Belgium, joining us after his recent marriage to Muriel, is finding things a bit of a struggle this year and his 1282 saw him third on the squad but that seems to be a lot too short to make the cut. The same fate befell suchamous names as clara Guerrero, Jean Marc Lebon, Nina flack and Kim Bolleby, to name just a few.
"I love it when my team-mates are doing well," said Larsen, commenting on Hellden's win earlier in the day. "Actually I started out today on the frsh oil with a different ball, one with a very different surface, so I think I will use that in the finals tomorrow. I always enjoy Barcelona, I come here every year and I love the place. "
SQUAD 15:Last chance saloon! The 15th and final qualifying squad and once again a full squad with a l-o-n-g waiting list. "I have never known such a long list for the final squad and only been able to move up three players," said genial tournament host Clara
Roca, the person who amazingly keeps the wheels of this prestigious event turning so smoothly. "I expected a lot of cancellations but there were only three."
Once again there was a heavy female entry, 11 of the players on the distaff side, and it was a fair lady who emerged the squad champion and that was the fair diminutive figure of Roosa Lunden, daughter of the well-known international Reija Lunden.
It was a tied score of 1268 with Sweden's Kim Bolleby but Lunden goes through on the high last game rule. Bolleby will rue chopping the 6-pin off the 10 in the ninth frame and then leaving the 6-7-10 split in the tenth, leaving the door open for Lunden who finished with 226 to Bolleby's 189.
Another Finn, Krista Pollanen, who is currently fifth in the European tour rankings, took third place with 1245. There were four women in the top five on the squad.
Like her mother, Roosa Lunden is a member of the Finnish national team and is heading east to Hong Kong in September to compete in the WTBA Women's World Championships. Will mother be along for help and guidance. "I'm not sure yet," said Reija, "as I am very busy at work at this time of the year."
Full results on www.tbowling.cat. Also web streaming for stepladder final at 18:15 CET on www.tbowling.cat.
Diana Zavjalova: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOD0PZhAUtg
Gery Verbruggen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Sck66EMiiA
Mika Koivuniemi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki8Qsy_yV7E
Osku Palermaa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80G_Ic-gLEw
QUALIFIERS (25-48 play at 09:00 on Sunday, 1-24 at 12:00):
|16||Marcial Ovide Marron||Catalonia||246||241||205||198||204||256||1350||0||1350|
|19||Jean Marc Samain||Belgium||225||223||210||221||222||237||1338||0||1338|
|20||Mai Ginge Jensen||Denmark||243||184||213||198||215||235||1288||48||1336|
|28||Moi Perez Ibañez||Catalonia||178||214||237||244||252||198||1323||0||1323|
|30||Rikke Holm Agerbo||Denmark||189||203||226||232||226||193||1269||48||1317|