Craig Nidiffer shoots big game to win 11th New Mexico Open


    United States

    2014NMOpenCraigNidiffer.jpgA new champion, the tenth different winner in the tournament's eleven years, was crowned Sunday at Tenpins & More in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, USA, when Craig Nidiffer (photo: Facebook/Amanda Paris) from the Detroit, Michigan, area caught two early breaks in his match against top seed, Brett Wolfe of Phoenix to beat the 2010 runner-up, 276-237, and to claim the $10,000 first prize.

    Wolfe hit the pocket twelve times, striking seven, but leaving two stone-cold 8 pin leaves, a ringing 7 pin and another ice-cold 8 pin in the first six frames before getting a five-bagger, 9 to finish the game.

    By then it was too late, as Nidiffer, encouraged by his good fortune (first frame brooklyn and nose-hit carry of the 6-10 to give him an opening four-bagger), fired a solid six straight strikes in frames six through eleven to close out the championship match.

    Wolfe was pleased he bowled so well in the final, after losing to Andrew Cain a few years ago with only 170. He received $5,500 as runner-up.

    For Nidiffer, the win was seemingly meant to be. In the semifinal, after opening with a perfect five-bagger, he lost his way against Tyler Jensen, leaving two unconverted designer splits and making a scary four-count spare.

    "I got lucky. I got really lucky", he told "Albuquerque Journal" reporter, Glen Rosales. Jensen, sensing victory, left and whiffed by a 10-pin in the ninth then needing to go off the sheet to force Nidiffer to strike, left another single pin to lose 195-204.

    In earlier stepladder matches, PBA champion, Mike Fagan of Hurst, Texas beat fellow Texan, Geoffrey Young of Keller, Texas, 227-218, striking in three of the last four shots. Young, last year's runner-up to champion, Nathan Bohr, won $1,750 in fifth place.

    Jensen then eliminated Fagan, 246-224, in a match that also could have gone either way. Fagan received $2,000 for fourth place, while Jensen got $2,750 after losing to Nidiffer.

    The big mover on the last day was Bryanna Caldwell of Tucson, Arizona, who moved from 36th to sixth, before losing the position round match to Fagan, 209-212. She posted 960/4 in the morning's semi-final round then averaged 217 going 7-5 in match-play against the strongest finals field yet.

    The tournament was record-breaker in many ways, attracting 217 bowlers from Australia, Latvia and 18 states, record side tournament entries of more than 430 and record prize-money of more than $73,000, including $54,465 in the Main Event.

    Eric Forkel, who broke his back in 2000, was chosen by Mike Miller and Dana Miller-Mackie as the first recipient of the new "Dee Miller Memorial Courage Award" trophy in honor of the Miller family trail-blazer who passed away in March.

    The 12th New Mexico Openwill be held August 14-16, 2015.


    11th New Mexico Open - Stepladder Finals

    Championship Round:
    1. Craig Nidiffer. Detroit, Mich., $10,000
    2. Brett Wolfe, Phoenix, Ariz., $5,500
    3. Tyler Jensen, Texas, $2,750
    4. Mike Fagan, Hurst, Texas, $2,000
    5. Geoffrey Young, Keller, Texas, $1,750

    Playoff Results:
    Match 1: No. 5 Fagan def. No. 4 Young, 227-218
    Match 2: No. 3 Jensen def. Fagan, 246-224
    Match 3: No. Nidiffer def. Jensen, 204-195
    Championship Match: Nidiffer def. No. 1 Wolfe, 276-237.


    11th New Mexico Open - Standings after Match Play Round

    Players with position, State, 25-game total including bonus pins (30 for each game won and 15 each for tied matches) and Match play record. Places 6-12 show earnings. Top 5 advance to the stepladder finals.

    1. Brett Wolfe, Arizona, 6,260, 10-2
    2. Craig Nidiffer, Michigan, 6,060, 8-4
    3. Tyler Jensen, Texas, 5,923, 9-3
    4. Geoffrey Young, Texas, 5,896, 6-6
    5. Mike Fagan, Texas, 5,762, 7-5

    Missed Cut:
    6. Bryanna Caldwell, Arizona, 5,716, 7-5, 217.0 $1,800 (includes high woman bonus)
    7. Josh Blanchard, Arizona, 5,679, 4-8, $1,200
    8. Kris Koeltzow, Colorado, 5,661, 5-7, $1,100
    9. J C Zuniga, Oklahoma, 5,653, 4-8, $1,000
    10. Vern Peterson, Florida, 5,643, 4-8, $900
    11. Kevin Mitchell, Oklahoma, 5,553, 4-8, $850
    12. Chad Lusche, Colorado, 5,373, 4-8, $825