Our 2018 Labor Day weekend major has come to an end and it was a big one as expected! The event drew 226 total entries (161 qualifying entries & 65 economy parlay), had 61 cashers, a 1 in 3.7 cash ratio and paid out over $12,000.00 in main and side event prize fund. As always, the majors always seem to offer everything! Big turnouts, big payouts, difficult lane conditions, exciting finishes, 9th and 10th frame roll offs and clutch finishes. We will get to all of them and more in this summary, but let's start off with the pattern. It was a 43ft custom oil pattern that played very difficult. It allowed some players to play further right, but for the most part, the players that did the best were closer to the middle of the lane giving a small belly. Most people were commonly playing 15-19 at the arrows throwing it out to 15-12 down lane. The cut scores throughout the weekend were pretty low averaging around +50 for all of the divisions for all of the days. This meant that the players had to average about 10 pins over average per game to advance to the quarter finals event.
As always we want to welcome all of the new bowlers that joined us for this event! Andrew Puerner, Felicia Blanchette, Brian Halstead, Daniel Austin, Norman Moore, Matthew Wezdenko, Chris Wezdenko, John-Michael Siefker, Michael Carnahan, Josh Mabry, and Kyle Gilbert all joined us for their first ever SFT AHT tournament this weekend. We hope you all had a good time in your first event! We had some new bowlers that didn't do well in their first event, but then we had others like Andrew Puerner who made it all the way to the quarter finals in his first tournament. A major is a tough environment to experience in your first event, and it isn't for everyone. Andrew had some past experience in individual competition in other sports, which helped him prepare for the big event in his first event, so great bowling to him! We also want to congratulate Kevin Dollar, Bryton Bobbitt, Ben Spencer, Josh Black and Brandon Bailey on being this event's parlay power players, taking their $25 entry fee all the way to the quarter finals! Bryton and Ben took it even further by making it all the way to the semi-finals. Also congrats to Andrew Puerner, Ken Irving, Justin Song, Barry Gilitiuk Sr., and Chris Weyrauch on either making their first ever quarterfinals or their first quarterfinals in quite some time.
The quarter finals started with a huge 47 person field, who were all guaranteed to cash for $100.00, but they all were after the $1,500.00 first place prize. There were 15-16 in each average division, and they bowled 3 games cutting to the top 5. If they managed to make that cut, they were guaranteed a minimum of $175.00 with progressive pot. Those 5 bowlers in each division would square off in a one game match on one pair of lanes, with the top 2 scores out of the 5 moving on to the division finals. The in A division we had #1 seed Ron Gonzales vs #2 seed Brian Jackson vs #3 seed Correen Lieber vs #4 Justin Song vs #5 seed uhhhhhh.... this is where the 9th and 10th frame roll off comes in. We had a tie between Ben Spencer & Ron McDonald for the 5th spot, which finished in a way that has never been done at a SFT event before. Ron started the match with a strike on the left lane. Ben then started off with a strike as well, but then threw it badly in the 10th to leave the 2-7 split. He was able to convert and filled the last shot with a strike to finish it off strongly. Ron, then got up in the 10th, didn't throw it well, went high, but made the spare. Then filled his last shot with a strike just like Ben. This meant that they both scored 40 in the 9th and 10th frame roll of. They tied scratch, but what about with handicap? Well, in a normal 10 frame match, Ben got one more pin of handicap then Ron. This means that Ron has 10 frames to makeup that one pin difference to beat pin. Well since the amount of frames bowled is 1/5th the normal, the handicap works the same. So Ben's 20 pins of handicap becomes 4 pins, and Ron's becomes 3.8. Now Ron has 2 frames to make up the .2 pins of handicap difference, and he wasn't able to do that. This meant, that for the first time ever in SFT AHT history, we had a match lost by less than a pin! Pretty crazy! Nice bowling guys!
In the B division we had #1 seed Jeff Brackett vs #2 seed Michael Dragon vs #3 seed Bryton Bobbitt vs #4 seed Ryan Riley, vs #5 seed Bill Brackett. In the C division, we had #1 seed Gary Hamm vs #2 seed Brian Richardson vs #3 seed Valda McMillan vs #4 seed Bernard Goodman vs #5 seed Ken Irving. In both of these divisions the #5 seed would move on proving that match play is always a different beast. In the B division it was Bill Brackett and Michael Dragon moving on. In the C division it was Brian Richardson and Ken Irving that would move on to the divisional final. In the A division, it was very close, but, Correen Lieber and Justin Song, the young guns of the A division. The A division final match was an exciting one with Correen needing a double in the 10th frame to beat Justin. Her first shot in the 10th was a bit wide, but she caught a huge break rolling the 2 pin. This helped offset a bad break she had earlier with a decent shot leaving a pocket 7-10. As great as the break was, it didn't matter at all if she couldn't take advantage of it and throw the next strike. Her next shot was about as good as it could be putting 10 pins back and making her the A division champion. In the B division final, Bill Brackett found a groove that we have seen him find countless times over the years. There is a mental element to bowling that can exist at any average, where players can just get in the zone and be locked in. Bill has his moments and he bowled a great game eliminating Mike Dragon and moving on to his first SFT AHT final in a very long time. I the C division final, it appeared that Brian Richardson was starting to catch fire. He barely made it to the semi-finals with a score +19, but then the next round bowled 238 with handicap and then 274 with handicap in the C division final match to move on to his 3rd title match in a very short SFT AHT career so far.
At our major's we use a different finals format. During our Memorial Day event, we did an eliminator format where all three bowl one game, the low game is eliminated and then the final two bowl another game to determine the champion. During our Labor Day event it is a step ladder format with the seeding being based on the previous round match scores. This meant that Brian Richardson was guaranteed a minimum of $800 because he was the number 1 seed. Bill Brackett was the #2 seed and Correen Lieber the #3 seed. The first match between Bill and Correen was a pretty good one, but Bill didn't bowl great and Correen was able to grind out the match and stay clean and Bill didn't do enough to force her to do any more than that. The final match between Brian and Correen however was a great one, with Brian making his spares and maintaining a lead until the middle of the game where Correen threw a 4 bagger to take the lead and really put the pressure on Brian, However, Brian has really proven to handle the high pressure moments in a way that far exceeds his average. He got up to bowl the 8th and 9th frame with a strike in the 7th. His next shot went right through the face but pins scattered and he caught a huge break to put together a double. Then he took advantage of it and made a great shot in the 9th frame to put together a 3 bagger which put the pressure back on Correen. She now had to throw another strike to keep the lead and fill the 10th frame to lock it up. She got up on the right lane and absolutely aced it to close out a very impressive and dominate weekend performance. From several cashes in the 3 day mega sweeper, to clutch strikes to defeat Justin Song and finishing it all off with a huge 5 bagger and eventual 255 scratch game to take home her first ever SFT AHT major and $1,500.00. Correen has been bowling a lot and really pushing hard to improve her game and try and prepare herself to give it her best shot on the PWBA tour and this event really showed her reaching that pinnacle and showing what she is really capable of doing. Congrats Correen!
Thanks to everyone for making this weekend such an unforgettable one! We look forward to seeing you all at our next event, next weekend at AMF Chandler lanes!