Europe takes 4-2 lead over United States after Day One in Weber Cup



    2011WeberCupLogo.jpg Team Europe completed an excellent opening day at the 2011 Weber Cup as they opened up a 4-2 lead over their U.S. opponents in front of a fair sized Friday night crowd at the Barnsley Metrodome.

    The teams had shared the opening exchanges as the match was poised at 2-2 but the Europeans pulled away as first Dominic Barrett, England, edged past Tommy Jones and then Finn Mika Koivuniemi narrowly beat Mike Fagan.

    "It's a great finish and a great first day, we just need to keep up like we are now," said a delighted Koivuniemi.

    Earlier, the Americans got off to the best start as they won the Baker formatted opening game, starting out with six strikes to open up a 50 pin lead from which the Europeans never recovered.

    In game No.2, Euro skipper Osku Palermaa, Finland, capitalized on some loose play in the closing stages from American debutant Bill O'Neil to steal their game and level the scores. The American started with an open frame but regained his momentum as the players were neck and neck throughout.

    O'Neill, though left a tough split in the 9th frame and could not convert it which allowed Palermaa to take the match by two pins. 'Terrible' was how O'Neill described his performance, while Palermaa was more effusive.

    "It's 1-1 but hats off the Americans as they came up with the game to beat us in the Baker. The support here is perfect and it's what you wait 12 months for - to come here and play in this."

    Paul Moor, England, gave the crowd some more good cheer in the next when he defeated another debutant, New York's Mike Fagan, by 236-203. Making his sixth appearance in the competition, 'Roge' led throughout as Fagan struggled. In the end, the English lefty from nearby Hull finished strongly for a 33 pin win.

    Earlier, presenter Tony Wrighton had disclosed that Fagan had tweeted 'Sorry Euros, the Weber Cup is coming back to the States!' which got the jeers from the Barnsley crowd.

    Chris Barnes, who has found the Metrodome in Barnsley a happy hunting ground in recent years, took the fourth game for the Americans to tie the match up at 2-2.

    The American, who won the Masters in this same venue in 2006 and the Weber in '06, '07 and '08, delivered a total of eight strikes which was too good for Mika Koivuniemi whose 212 total was 34 pins short of what was required.

    Arguably, Barnes and the big Finn are the two best players in the world this year, and they were neck and neck until a 9-spare from Mika was trumped by a strike from Barnes. When Koivuniemi left an open frame at the last, it was all over.

    Weber Cup 300 man Tommy Jones suffered a nightmare in his match with Dominic Barrett as he turned a winning position into defeat after leaving a horror split in the seventh frame.

    He failed to clear it and that turned a 22 pin lead into level pegging.

    Barrett made the bold move to change his ball as he recorded five strikes on the bounce and Jones didn't help his cause when he left another one open in the next frame. At the close, it Barrett ran out a 19 pin winner to leave Jones cursing his luck.

    "That's why you bowl ten frames. I made what I thought was a pretty good shot and got four. It takes a lot of character to change your ball and win and he did it" said a disappointed Jones.

    Barrett said "Having home advantage helps as I have 14 balls with me and I changed it and it helped me out,".

    "The lane is giving you information all the time and it's about how you use that information. Tommy was doing well so it was a clear-cut decision that I had to change and it paid off," he added.

    The final match of the session was a 'captains' pick' affair as both team skippers had to choose whom was playing for the opposition. Not surprisingly, they both went for players who had lost their openers as Mika Koivuniemi faced off against rookie Mika Fagan.

    It was a close run thing but Koivuniemi won through at the death as Fagan faltered in the final frames. The Finn won by 245-235 to increase Europe's lead to two points.

    Featuring a potential total of 33 matches over the weekend, the first team to reach 17 points will lift the coveted trophy. Starting in 2000, the USA has won six Weber Cups and the Europeans five, following last year's 17-13 win at the Metrodome.


    Standings after six matches: Europe leads USA, 4-2

    Europe 206-255 USA
    Osku Palermaa 201-199 Bill O'Neill
    Paul Moor 236-203 Mike Fagan
    Mika Koivuniemi 212-246 Chris Barnes
    Dominic Barrett 216-197 Tommy Jones
    Mika Koivuniemi 245 –235 Mike Fagan