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Defending champion Hadley Morgan back in the driver’s seat in Sofia

Defending champion Hadley Morgan of England averaged over 220 in the 15th qualifying squad Tuesday afternoon at bowling center Joy Station in Sofia, Bulgaria, to sit in the driver’s seat in the qualifying of the 7th Sofia International Open 2016 and to book his spot for the finals next Sunday.

Fresh off a third place finish in the 39th European Champions Cup in Olomouc, Czech Republic, last week, Morgan (pictured above) rebounded from a slow start (190) with 278, the highest game in the tournament so date, and closed with 209, 201, 232 and 211 to lead the field of 113 players from 15 countries with 1321 total and an average of 220.17.

2016SIOZoranBanjacMorgan, who fired a 289 game to win the title in the 6th Sofia International Open, overtook previous leader Zoran Banjac (right) of Croatia by nine pins. Banjac slipped to second place with 1312.

Mehmet Kaya of Turkey was just 17 pins behind Morgan in squad 15 to become the third player who surpassed the 1300-mark in third place with 1304, including a high game of 259.

2016SIOKaaronSalomaaKaaron Salomaa (left) of Finland had six games between 201 and 242 to lead squad 16 and to move into fourth place in the overall qualifying standings with 1296 and an average of 216.

Rounding out the top 6 after the first four days, who will earn automatic berths into Sunday’s finals in case they don’t finish in the top 44, were Karsten Aust of Germany (5th; 1287) and Santtu Tahvanainen of Finland (6th; 1285).

If any of the above finish in the top 44, the automatic spot goes to the next qualifier in order.

2016SIONikolayPetrovJust outside the top 6 was the best Bulgarian bowler, Yavor Milanov, in seventh place with 1283. His fellow countrywoman Didi Ilieva was the best of 16 women in 11th place with 1255, including 8 pins handicap each game.

2016SIOKrzysztofOlesinskiNikolay Petrov (right) of Bulgaria led the first squad on Tuesday, 13th overall, with 1232, boosted by a 264 in game five, to jump into 14th place. Squad 14 leader Krzysztof Olesinski (left) of Poland was close behind with 1226, including high games of 267 and 248, good for 18th place overall.

With 16 out of 35 squads in the books, Peter Verdnik of Slovenia is the man “on the bubble” in 44th place with 1168 or an average of 194.67.

Qualifying continues Wednesday, Nov. 2, with squads 17-20 scheduled to start at 10 a.m., 2, 6 and 9.30 p.m. Central European Time (CET).

2016SofiaOpenLogoThe 7th Sofia International Open 2016, a popular but non-European Bowling Tour event, will be held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6 at bowling center Joy Station, a 20-laner in the capital city of Bulgaria. The tournament offers total prize fund of 55.000 Euro with 7.000 Euro going to the winner and a last-to-cash payout of 350 Euro for 56th place.

Qualifying of the Sofia Open starts on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 10 a.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST), and runs through Saturday, Nov. 5, with the final squad 35 scheduled for 9.30 p.m. Central European Time (CET). Qualifying concludes with the one-game Desperado Squad. Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (maximum is 300).

Total 56 players will advance to the finals on Sunday, Nov 6, including top 44 qualifiers, top 6 from squads 1-16, top 2 from squads 17-25, and top 4 of the Desperado Squad. Top 8 qualifiers will earn two byes and qualifiers 9-16 receive a first-round bye.

The other 40 players will advance to the first of four 4-game rounds (rounds 1-3 starting from scratch). The field will be trimmed to 36, 20, and then 10 players who will determine the finalists in the last four-game round with the pinfall from Round 3 being carried forward. The top 4 after eight games will bowl for the title in a traditional stepladder final.

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7th Sofia International Open 2016 – Current Qualifying Standings

Top 44 qualifiers, top 6 from squads 1-16, top 2 from squads 17-25, and top 4 of the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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