By Keith Hale
Much celebration for the 40th Ballmaster Tournament in Helsinki, January 2-10, with a huge entry of 509 bowlers from 23 nations competing for the €15,000 (euro) first prize. History was made with this being the first-ever EBT Platinum rated tournament, awarding 2.5 times the normal ranking points.
A star-studded entry from American pro bowlers saw Mike Fagan take the lead after the six qualifying games with an impressive 1,572, 67 pins ahead of Martin Larsen from Sweden and with Denmark’s Jesper Agerbo third with 1,469. This trio led the top 44 qualifiers, plus four from the dreaded Desperado squad into Sunday’s finals. Maybe more history was made in the Desperado as home player Joonas Maunula rolled a 300 to qualify, although that was bowled on one lane.
2008 WBW Bowler of the Year Dominic Barrett of England led the field over the first eight game stint of the finals with 1,880, leading Gery Verbruggen of Belgium by six pins and with Mike Fagan third, 1,845.
The top 16 from that group advanced to the eight-game round robin and famous PBA pro Parker Bohn III, believed to be in his first European tournament, topped the standings with a 16-game total of 5,960 points, including win bonus. In second place came the top woman of the Ballmaster, Cherie Tan from Singapore (5,780) and third Sweden’s Tomas Leandersson (5,684) hot from his outstanding win in the AIK Tournament in Stockholm, Sweden the previous week. Coming in as fourth seed for the stepladder final was local player now a well-known name on the PBA Tour, Mika Koivuniemi.
The tall Finn Koivuniemi met, then defeated, Tomas Leandersson, 210-199, to advance to the second rung of the stepladder. Now it was Finland versus Singapore as the only surviving woman Cherie Tan faced Koivuniemi. She had to be content with third place as Koivuniemi fired 270-195 to progress to the title match against top seed Parker Bohn III, the 46-year-old PBA veteran.
Koivuniemi kept his winning ways, taking out his compatriot, 248-203, to once again have a Finn at the top of the Ballmaster podium.
The Ballmaster lives on, thanks to the sterling efforts of Kimmo Lehtonen whose love of bowling is reflected in the superb organization and running of this event. He is certainly proud to have the honor of hosting the EBT’s first platinum event.
Ballmaster final standings: 1. Mika Koivuniemi, Finland €15,000; 2. Parker Bohn III, United States €8,000; 3. Cherie Tan, Singapore €5,000; 4. Tomas Leandersson, Sweden €3,000; 5. Kimmo Lehtonen, Finland €2,500; 6. Mike Fagan, United States €2,500; 7. Tony Ranta, Finland €2,500; 8. Dominic Barrett, England €2,500.
Full results and reports on: www.ballmaster.fi.
—Photo: Champion Koivuniemi by Pekka Korpi