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Chris Sloan shoots into the lead at 29th Irish Open

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Irish two-hander Chris Sloan became the first player in the 29th Irish Open Championships in association with Storm who cracked the 1500-bar (a 250 average) en route to take the lead in the qualifying standings Wednesday at Leisureplex Stillorgan in Dublin.

Sloan (right), who finished second in the 52nd QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup in Shanghai, China, at the end of last year, started his six-game series with back-to-back 259, 254 followed by his low game of 199.

He closed with an 815 series for the last three games (268, 268 and 279) for 1527 total and an average of 254.50 to overtake previous leader Barry Foley, Ireland, by 106 pins.

Foley (left), who led the opening squad on Sunday, slipped to second place with 1421. Hadley Morgan of England, who won his first European Bowling Tour title in the 10th International Wroclaw Open last season, was second to Sloan in squad 2 with 1406 (234.33), including five games between 211 and 237 and a high game of 269, to leap into third place.

Places 4 to 6 belonged to squad 3 bowlers. Eoghain Lebioda (right) of Ireland earned the bragging rights as the squad leader posting 1378 to position himself in fourth place. His compatriot Alan Bride was 33 pins back in fifth place with 1345. Rounding out the top 6 was Ryan Press of Northern Ireland with 1341.

The top six players in a separate standing of squads 1-4 will earn automatic berths into the finals in case they don’t finish among the top 53 in the overall qualifying standings. If any of the top 6 finish in the top 53, the automatic spot goes to the seventh qualifier and so on.

Louise Reay of England and Ashleigh Gill of Scotland were the best of eleven women in the 57-player field from 12 countries in 12th and 13th place with 1285 and 1260, respectively. As all women in the Irish Open, Reay and Gill received eight pins handicap each game.

Qualifying continues on Thursday, January 19, with squads 4, 5, 6 and 7 scheduled to start at 9 a.m., noon and 4 and 8 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The 29th Irish Open Championships in association with Storm is the second tournament on the 2017 European Bowling Tour and the first of four “EBT Satellite” events this season, the lowest of five EBT tournament categories.

The Irish Open takes place from January 15-22 at 18-lane Leisureplex Stillorgan in Dublin, Ireland, and offers total prize money of 20.000 Euro with 5.000 Euro going to the winner, 2.500 to the runner-up and 1.500 and 1.250 to the third and fourth place finishers, respectively.

Low to cash is 32nd place, worth 120 Euro. The tournament also offers a high performance bowling ball for the first 300 game, High Game awards for men and women as well as extra prizes for the top woman and the top 4 seniors (must be born on Jan. 1, 1967, or earlier), who have their own shoot-out finale.

Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) starts on Sunday, Jan. 15, and concludes Saturday, Jan. 21, with squad 14 followed by the ultimate one-game Desperado Squad slated for 7.30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (up to 292 – maximum score is 300), an equality handicap provided to women in all EBT events.

Total 62 athletes will advance to the finals, including the top 53 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 6 in a separate standing of squads 1-4 who are not among the top 53, plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad.

The top four qualifiers receive two byes while qualifiers 5-8 earn a first-round bye. The remaining 54 finalists bowl three games, starting from scratch, with the top 28 advancing to the second round.

32 players bowl another three-game block, starting from scratch, after which the field is cut to the top 12. Those 12, seeded 5-16, and the top four qualifiers, seeded 1-4, bowl four rounds of single-elimination match play with the two-game total determining the winner.

In each round, the highest seeded player bowls the lowest seeded player, the second highest seeded player bowls the second lowest seeded player, and so on. The field is trimmed to eight, four and then two players who bowl for the title and the 5.000 Euro top prize.

The 2017 European Bowling Tour features 11 tournaments in 9 countries including two “Platinum”, two “Gold”, three “Bronze” and four “Satellite” events (no silver tournament this season), which offer total prize fund of roughly 500.000 Euro.

The top 50 men and the top 50 women in each event receive ranking points. Those points will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the top 8 men and top 8 women, who will be eligible to compete in the 11th EBT Masters in February 2018 in Tilburg, Netherlands.

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Top 53 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 6 in a separate standing of squads 1-4 who are not among the top 53, plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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