Defending champion Hadley Morgan
of England averaged more than 244 to take a commanding lead in the 7th Sofia International Open
heading into the home stretch of the qualifying portion at bowling center Joy Station in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The leaderboard got a whole new look as six players moved into the top 8 in the squads on Friday.
Fresh off a third place finish in the 39th European Champions Cup last week, Morgan (pictured above) fired games of 267, 259, 216, 290, 237 and 197 to rocket to the top of the 228-player leaderboard with 1466 and an average of 244.33.
Morgan, who won the 6th Sofia International Open in 2015, briefly led the qualifying behind a squad 1321 series in squad 15. He improved his high series by 145 pins out averaging his nearest competitor by more than 20 pins.
Trailing Morgan by 124 pins Santtu Tahvanainen (left) of Finland. Tahvanainen improved his high series by 23 pins to 1342, including six games between 213 and 244, to leap from fifth to second place.
Previous leader Anton Elofsson of Sweden topped his high score by four pins only to slip to third place with 1338. Fourth and fifth place belonged to Jesper Agerbo (right) of Denmark and Daniel Fransson (left) of Sweden, who toppled 1332 and 1330 pins respectively.
Last year’s qualifying winner (1515) Mattias Olsson (right) of Sweden and his compatriot Mattias Wetterberg (below left), who was second to Olsson with 1484, including back-to-back 300 games, slipped four spots to sixth and seventh place with 1329 and 1323, resp.
Georgos Stefanidis of Greece took over eighth place with 1318, an average of 219.67. The top 8 after qualifying will receive two byes, while qualifiers 9-16 will miss the first round of the finals on Sunday.
The best Bulgarian bowler in the field from 28 countries, Yavor Milanov, fell from 14th to 18th place with 1283 (213.83).
Other notables above the cut line include European Champions Cup winner Jaroslav Lorenc (right), Czech Republic, in 24th place with 1271 and PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Brian Voss (left), United States, in 30th place with 1261. Voss finished second in Sofia in 2013.
Didi Ilieva (right) of Bulgaria and Nadezda Korablinova of Russia are the only women in the top 44 in 33rd and 36th place with 1255 and 1249, including 8 pins handicap each game.
Alexey Parshukov (left) of Russia, who was third in the 2013 Sofia International Open, used a big 269 game to currently hold the 44th and last place to advance with 1238 and an average of 206.33.
Qualifying continues Saturday, Nov. 5, with squads 31-35 scheduled to start at 1 and 10 a.m., 1, 5.30 and 9.30 p.m. Central European Time (CET) and concludes with the Desperado Squad slated at Midnight.
The 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.
Four players add their names to the leaderboard in Sofia
Swedes Elofsson, Olsson new leaders in Sofia International Open
Defending champion Hadley Morgan back in the driver’s seat in Sofia
Croatia’s Zoran Banjac becomes first player to crack the 1300-bar in Sofia
Germany’s Karsten Aust takes over lead in 7th Sofia International Open
Bulgaria’s Dian Dinev takes early lead in 7th Sofia International Open
7th Sofia International Open 2016 – Preview
Hadley Morgan shoots 289 to win 6th Sofia International Open
7th Sofia International Open 2016 – Qualifying Standings after 30/35 Squads
Top 44 qualifiers, top 2 from squads 17-25 (places 45-46), top 6 from squads 1-16 (places 47-52) and top 4 of the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals.