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24th Malta Open Championships
Slow Motion Video
The winner (pictured left and above) received the five million Japanese Yen check, roughly 45,000 U.S. Dollar. Sotozuka, as an amateur, was not eligible to receive prize money.
In an all-lefty affair, 21-year-old Morimoto, who became the youngest bowler to win the Japan Open in 2015 at the age of 20 years and 45 days, started the championship match with two single pin spares, then reeled off six consecutive strikes to race into a commanding lead that Sotozuka could not overcome.
The 45-year-old (right), who is the first amateur bowler ever who advanced to the TV finals in the Round1 Cup, was unable to strike in the first seven frames. Leading by 47 pins, Morimoto spared in the ninth frame and shut Sotozuka out with a nine-count on the first shot of his final frame to secure the win.
Sotozuka closed his match with five strikes but had to settle for second place.
In the semifinals, Morimoto rolled nine strikes and converted single pin spares in frames two, seven and nine to cruise to a 239-211 over Fumihiro Yoshida of Aichi.
In the other match, Sotozuka advanced with a stunning 236-219 victory over 14-time JPBA champion Shota Kawazoe of Nara. The 2016 JPBA point ranking leader started out the match commandingly, by connecting for the first five strikes, but Sotozuka started with spare before stringing together six consecutive strikes in frames two through seven.
Kawazoe (right), a 28-year-old right-hander, handed Sotozuka the lead with back-to-back splits in frames seven and eight and though Sotozuka gave the advantage back as he missed a seven pin spare in the eighth frame, all the lefty needed was to fill the final two frames. He struck in frame nine and converted the 3-5-6-9 “bucket” in the final frame before closing with 9-count (another seven pin).
Kawazoe and Yoshida each received 1,925,000 JPY for third place ($17,250).
The JPBA Round1 Cup 2017 featured total prize fund of 22,000,000 JPY or approx. $197,150. Following a Pre-Tournament Qualifier, 176 bowlers rolled six games of qualifying after which the field was cut to the top 48 who advanced to match-play bracket. All matches prior to the championship round were three games, with total pinfall determining the winner.
The next event on the Japan Professional Bowlers Association schedule is the JPBA50 8th Handa Cup Pro Bowling Masters for bowlers age 50 and over June 24-26 at Kawasaki Grandbowl in Kanagawa, Japan.
Results and photos courtesy of JPBA Media Relations.
Round1 Sakai-kanjyo in Osaka, Japan (June 15-17, 2017)
1. Kenta Morimoto, Aichi, 485 (2 games), 5,000,000 JPY
2. Takashi Sotozuka, Tochigi, 468 (2 games), (amateur, does not receive prize money)
3. Shota Kawazoe, Nara, 219 (1 game), 1,925,000 JPY
(tie) Fumihiro Yoshida, Aichi, 211 (1 game), 1,925,000 JPY
Semifinal Match 1: Morimoto def. Yoshida, 239-211
Semifinal Match 2: Sotozuka def. Kawazoe, 236-219
Championship: Morimoto def. Sotozuka, 246-232.
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