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Takeo Sakai captures his 35th JPBA title in 8th Handa Cup

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Japan Professional Bowlers Association standout Takeo Sakai of Osaka held off Nobuaki Takahashi of Saitama in the title match, 234-162, to win the 8th Handa Cup Pro Bowling Masters for bowlers age 50 and over Monday at Kawasaki Grandbowl in Kanagawa, Japan.

It was the second Masters title for the 65-year-old right-hander and his 35th JPBA title, including the victory in the Japan Cup in 1988. Sakai (above and right) earned the 1,500,000 Japanese Yen top prize (approx. USD 13,450), while six-time JPBA titlist Takahashi was consoled with 760,000 JPY.

Sakai, who led the top 4 players after round robin match play into the stepladder finals, reeled off four consecutive strikes in frames two through five to take a 43-pin lead in the middle of the game.

When Takahashi (left), 58, suffered three big splits (2-8-10, 3-4-6-7-9-10 and 3-4-6-7) in frames four, six and seven, all of which resulted in open frames, Sakai rebounded from an open with three strikes to put the match out of reach for Takahashi.

Takahashi, seeded fourth, threw seven strikes in the opening match to oust local favorite, third-seeded Yoshimi Kitaoka (right) of Kanagawa, 224-211. Kitaoka, 57, a three-time JPBA champion who led the field after qualifying and the semi-final round, received 340,000 JPY for fourth place.

Takahashi carried the momentum into the semi-final match against No. 2 seed Jin Ohtomo of Shizuoka, the lone lefthander in the stepladder finals. Though Takahashi fell behind early due to a 4-6-7 split in frame two, he narrowed the gap to 10 pins with a turkey in frames four through six.

Ohtomo (left) stayed clean until the last frame in which he suffered an 8-10 split which handed the win to Takahashi on a silver plate, 204-201. One-time JPBA champion Ohtomo, 57, pocketed 440,000 JPY for third place.

The 8th Handa Cup Pro Bowling Masters for bowlers age 50 and over featured total prize fund of 6,270,000 JPY or approx. $56,235.

240 bowlers, 117 professionals and 123 amateurs, rolled 12 games of qualifying after which the field was cut to the top 36 who bowled further six games before the cut to the top 12 for round robin match play. The top 4 after 12 matches, including position round, determined the champion a traditional stepladder final.

The next event on the Japan Professional Bowlers Association schedule is the 33rd Rokko Queens Open for women June 9-11 at Kobe Rokko Bowl in Hyogo, Japan.

Results and photos courtesy of JPBA Media Relations.

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Kawasaki Grandbowl in Kanagawa, Japan (June 24-26, 2017)

Championship Round:
1. Takeo Sakai, Osaka, 234 (1 game), 1,500,000 JPY
2. Nobuaki Takahashi, Saitama, 590 (3 games), 760,000 JPY
3. Jin Ohtomo, Shizuoka, 201 (1 game), 440,000 JPY
4. Yoshimi Kitaoka, Kanagawa, 211 (1 game), 340,000 JPY

Playoff Results:
First Match: No. 4 Takahashi def. No. 3 Kitaoka, 224-211
Semifinal Match: Takahashi def. No. 2 Ohtomo, 204-201
Championship: No. 1 Sakai def. Takahashi, 234-162.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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