Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who said long formats are not exciting!!

Doha, Qatar, The Qatar Open, the last event of the calender year where I played. The previous 2 events I played (the PBA events) did not go exactly as planned so I was hoping to bowl a little better here and make the 3 week tour not a complete disaster.
The format is one of the better formats that we play on the European Tour (a little side note, Qatar Open joined the European Tour as of last year and has the largest prize pool of them all. 30,000 Euro for 1st).
Anyway back to the format. 6 games, re-entry with top 6 getting 2 byes, 7-12th getting one bye, the rest of the cut field making the finals.
The first cut play 6 games cut to half the field. The next cut is then joined by those who placed 7-12th in qualifying, then cut half again after another 6 games, those remaining 10 are then joined by the top 6 from qualifying to form the top 16.
The top 16 then play another 6 games, with 8 going through, the pinfall is then carried over (just from the round of 16 scores) and then the top 8 play another 6 games then it cuts to the top 4 for the semi finals.
Its a fair bit of bowling, but thats the way I like it.
I qualfied early on but not enough for the byes. I tried a few more times, then on my last attempt I shot 1401 to qualify 3rd and get the all important 2 byes.
The pattern was not so easy on the fresh, but after a few games the lanes opened up a little and shooting 250 was considered a huge game.
The first 6 games I played I started off aweful. 340 something for 2 and was sitting last. I knew the number was going to be low so I dug my heels in and fought my way back to 55 over to be the number for the top 8.
I was pretty happy with myself to come back and knew that another 6 good games and I had a chance to win the event.
This is where the story becomes amazing.
The last 6 games was always going to be close. I was the number for the top 8 but only 30 pins out from 4th, so anyone had the potential to make the semi finals. I bowled some great games to shoot 690 for my first 3 to jump into 3rd. I shot 208 my 4th game and slipped to 4th, then 232 my 5th game to give myself some breathing space.
I had a quick glance at the scores and this is how it all sat.
Remy Ong from Singapore was out in front and couldn’t be caught. Nina Flack from Sweden was in 2nd, 40 pins in the number, Dom Barrett from England was also 40 pins inside the cut, then I was the number. I had a 35 pin buffer of Nick Froggatt of England and a 56 pin buffer from Wu Su Hong from Hong Kong.
At first I thought I was really the only one who was in trouble. Dom and Nina were well infront of me and that would make them WAY infront of the other 2 boys.
I started ok, strike, 2 spares then a double. Nina hit a wall as did Dom. Nick and Su Hong both had the front 6.
All of a sudden, only Remy was safe and at this point I’m in the biggest amount of trouble. I string another couple of strikes and then leave the most ridiculous ringing 10 of the trip. I could punch out for 247 and with a few frames left I didnt think it would be enough. I needed someone to miss.
Nick left a 7 pin and then threw some great shots to shoot 279. Su Hong left a 3-6-7-10, then made it, then struck out, leaving Dom, Nina and myself all to strike out.
Nina was up first, BANG BANG. Doubled like it was easy. Dom actually only need the first hit and he dead nutted it. Su Hong was now out. It was me Vs Nick for the final spot.
I needed a double in the 10th and count to beat him and secure my spot in the final 4.
First shot was perfect. Normally I get a little nervous but for some reason this time I had no nerves and just knew I could do it. I let it go perfect and carried all 10 into the pit.
Remy was 1st, Nina and I tied for 2nd and Dom was 4 pins behind us, with Nick just a whisker out by 6 pins.
It was the most amazing last few frames of bowling I have been a part of. The crowd would yell for every strike and for every open a gasp would be heard.
Nick was a true gentleman and came to congratulate me after I doubled and said great bowling. A sign of a great competitor.
I made the final 4 and now I had the chance to win the event.
Nina and I would play the semi finals against each other (format was 2 games total pinfall). This is where the wheels came off. I had played so well but for some reason I just forgot how to bowl. It’s never easy to play against a lady on the European tour. For a start they get 8 pins handicap a game and are just as good as the men.
Nina bowled a solid 480 and I had no reaction to compete. 3rd Place for me and to be honest I was happy with that. Some stages it looked like 16th was the more obvious place for me.
Nina went on to win and beat Dom for the title. 30,000 Euro’s (around $40,000 US). A huge pay check by anyones standards.
So I finished out the year with a smallish bang. Could have been better but it could of so easily been so much worse.
I just want to thank everyone for their support this year, it means a lot. Also have a safe and Merry Christmas and New Year.
Till next year
Cheers and be good

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