Barcelona – Squads 4 to 7 – Battling on

by Bob Johnson 0

Three days now of intense battles for supremacy in the qualifying rounds and most of the players are finding the going tough. After a very forgiving lane pattern used last week in San Marino, the 170-plus players vying for places above the cut here at Bowling Pedralbes are finding that they have to foces one hundred per cent on every shot through the six game blocks.

With long waiting lists for places on each of the twelve remaining squads it means that there is no room for complacency as each entry could be the last available and all would love to be in Sunday's final rounds.

Already through are Catalan Marcial Ovide, Syafiq Ridhwan of Malaysia and Catalonia Open champion Brian Voss, winners of the opening three squads. winners of each of the 15 squads advance and they are joined by qualifiers 1-27 and six leading women who do not make the cut, the latter a rule unique to Barcelona.

Therefore, a squad of 48 will play the first stage of the final rounds, playing four games with 50 per cent of their qualifying pinfall carried forward. Then the leading 24 from that group go forward to stage two.

Full details of this event are available on: and the web stream of the final will be on the same website at about 18:15 on Sunday evening.

Thursday opened with two players exceeding the 1400-barrier, Zulmazran Zulkifli keeping the Malaysian flag to the fore with a 1430 to pinch first place on the overall leader board from team-mate Syafiq Ridhwan, and Belgium's Mats Maggi second on the squad with 1405.

'Zul', as we all call Zulkifli, was bowling on the same pair as Maggi in the sixth and going into the final game had a 14-pin lead over  the

Zulmazran Zulkifli

Belgian. Both enjoyed a strikefest finale but the Malaysian's 279 to a 268 from the Belgian saw the result 1430 - 1405.

"I had Coco Pops cereal for breakfast this morning and that seems to be the best recipe for bowling good," joked Zulkifli in the post-match interview. "It was a delicious breakfast, just great. I was joking with Ridhwan yesterday that in my last game I would beat his score of 1404. We were just joking around.

"I did some balkl changes at the end of the third game and it all worked well for me. We are getting used to changing lanes every game on the European Tour. I think it is fair and very good for the sport. I hope I can keep a good position for the rest of the qualifying.

"I love bowling in Europe so much. Hopefully we can get good funding next year so maybe I can bowl in all the Tour events as I love it here."

Malaysian coach Holloway Cheah added the comment: "Hopefully Malaysians at the top will carry on. Maybe the final result will be one-two again."

Defending champion Gery Verbruggen, the stocky Belgian, made his 2011 Barcelona Open debut on squad five but only hit 1242 to place ninth on the squad. But on either side of him pins were flying for Scandinavians Marcus Berndt from Sweden and Finland's

Marcus Berndt

Perttu Jussila, the pair both challenging for pole position on the leader board.

Jussila slipped to a 194 in the sixth and final game, leaving the door open for the double Malta Open champion to walk sedately though and had the 4-pin fallen in the first shot of the tenth frame Berndt would have been the overall leader. However, his 1424 takes him into second place in the overall standings and, most important of all, a place in Sunday's finals.

Talented leftie Paul Moor had his usual ups and downs through the six games, falling off the pace after a 193 third game, but his 1377 total must be good enough to qualify and leaves him third on the squad.

"Today I threw some great shots and had the carry," explained Berndt is his post-match interview. "This year I have developed a lot in Wichita where I am studying at the university, so this proves I have really made some progress. I have basically grown up with a bowling ball in my hand as both my parents were on the Swedish national teams, so it was not a big surprise that I started bowling.

"Barcelona is always a great tournament, I love coming here. I think this is my third year. so I hope we can have a nice final on Sunday."

Squad interviews on:


the big guns came on board and fired many broadsides through the six games but none of the stars of the bowling world could match the 1400s set earlier in the day.

When it was time for the chickens come home to roost it was between Amleto Monacelli, Osku Palermaa, Robert Andersson and Stuart Williams to decide who could give the best tenth frame finish.

That honor went to the Englishman, Williams, who finished his fifth and sixth games with a brace of 247s to total 1355, a score

Stuart Williams

somewhat less than the 1430 hit by Malaysia's Zulmazran Zulkifli this morning. The new father, Palermaa, whose partner Veronika presented him with a baby girl lst week, rallied with 1325 but disappointed to hit a lowly 174 in his third game, and Sweden's Andersson dropped from the high standard achieved over the past couple of events to place third on the squad with 1324.

Williams is enjoying a greatly improved bowling career; "This was my first entry, so winning the squad gives me an automatic spot into the finals. That is a weight off my mind with the difficulty to get spots on the squads now.

"This is the best I have ever been playing. In the last six events I've been at least in the top five places and that's really good. It has been hard working on the things I have been struggling with then being patient. Of course, I'm happy now with a nice girl friend so thing's are looking pretty good.

"The lane pattern here is a lot flatter than what we have been playing on over the last few weeks. I started off this evening with a 225 with an open in the eighth frame. It seemed like an OK score, and then I was following Mika (Koivuniemi). He evidently sees the lanes a little different than me and I made some bad shots and I rescued that game with a 182. After that I felt pretty comfortable, bowling further inside and slowing down. Now I've made the final it is going to be a bit more relaxing over the next couple of days."

The final squad for Thursday and the end of a very long day saw quite a large contingent of primary entries, including the group from Cyprus and EBT regulars David Canady from Germany, Belgium's Jean Marc Lebon and Mik Stampe from Denmark. The

Jean Marc Semain

Cypriots were involved in the Cockatoos Paphos Open just a couple of weeks ago and are competing in the Barcelona Open for the first time.

Although the Swedish national women's team is here in force, only the diminutive Nina Flack competed on this squad. The Malaysians had their five girls on the roster: Esther Cheah, Sin Li Jane, Sharon Koh, Siti Shazwani and Jacqueline Sijore.

This was really a tough squad in which to predict the outcome. The girls have a good record here and the Malaysians were looking strong.

The added incentive of a free pass into Sunday's final is a big carrot for the donkey and puts pressure on those with a chance as they go into the final game.

Eventually it was the Belgian flag to rise to the top of the mast as Jean Marc Semain, 32, manager of a ten-lane center in Mons emerged as champion of squad seven, rolling to his short bout of fame with a score of 1338. This was one of just five scores over 1300 on what may be the lowest scoring session so far this year.

Tomorrow (Friday) sees the penultimate day of qualifying with four squads - 09:00, 13:00, 17:00 and 21:00. That schedule will be repeated for the four final qualifying squads on Saturday.

The 15 squad winners plus qualifiers 1-27 will advance to the final rounds, accompanied by the leading six women who do not make the cut.

P     Player     Federation     1    2    3    4    5    6    Pins     Hdcp     Total
1    Zulkifli Zulmazran    Malaysia    208    223    248    225    247    279    1430    0    1430
2    Marcus Berndt    Sweden    239    236    244    247    244    214    1424    0    1424
3    Mats Maggi    Belgium    211    215    252    212    247    268    1405    0    1405
4    Syafiq Ridhwan    Malaysia    219    218    246    228    268    225    1404    0    1404
5    Adrian Ang    Malaysia    206    225    235    269    227    225    1387    0    1387
6    Perttu Jussila    Finland    239    258    248    232    212    194    1383    0    1383
7    Paul Moor    England    257    212    190    265    220    233    1377    0    1377
8    Brian Voss    USA    236    237    202    233    200    254    1362    0    1362
9    Stuart Williams    England    224    182    240    215    247    247    1355    0    1355
10    Christian Racpan    Germany    183    257    195    278    217    224    1354    0    1354
11    Jean Marc Samain    Belgium    225    223    210    221    222    237    1338    0    1338
12    Mai Ginge Jensen    Denmark    243    184    213    198    215    235    1288    48    1336
13    Osku Palermaa    Finland    269    191    174    230    223    248    1335    0    1335
14    Zandra Aziela    Malaysia    177    233    213    223    225    216    1287    48    1335
15    Marcial Ovide Marron    Catalonia    230    207    259    209    212    212    1329    0    1329
16    Robert Andersson    Sweden    179    256    247    224    207    211    1324    0    1324
17    Moi Perez Ibañez    Catalonia    178    214    237    244    252    198    1323    0    1323
18    Amleto Monacelli    Venezuela    175    215    237    248    226    217    1318    0    1318
19    Thomas Larsen    Denmark    220    175    199    248    254    218    1314    0    1314
20    Mik Stampe    Denmark    258    177    236    185    217    236    1309    0    1309
21    Sandra Andersson    Sweden    215    187    237    216    214    192    1261    48    1309
22    Esther Cheah    Malaysia    240    226    199    223    215    157    1260    48    1308
23    Kasper Walter    Denmark    246    208    228    229    183    213    1307    0    1307
24    Jere Oksanen    Finland    223    231    236    181    211    223    1305    0    1305
25    Nicole Sanders    Netherlands    212    172    186    231    243    210    1254    48    1302





Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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