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Chris Barnes comes from behind to win 15th New Mexico Open

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Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, rolled a strike on his fill ball in the second game of the decisive match to defeat Brandon Grant of Las Vegas by mere one pin, 411-410, and to win the title in the World Bowling Tour’s 15th New Mexico Open Sunday at Tenpins & More in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

The PBA Hall-of-Famer and former PBA Player of the Year (pictured above with check and trophy) barely qualified in 29th of the top 32 to make the bracket play at the 171-bowler tournament.

Photos courtesy of TonyClaire.com.

The top 32 after eight games of qualifying were seeded into double-elimination match play bracket to bowl two-game total pinfall matches. The field was trimmed to four players for the stepladder finals, who bowled two-game total pinfall matches, with no. 4 playing no. 3, the winner playing no. 2, before the winner of the semifinal match challenged the leader (who would have to lose twice) for the trophy and the $13,060 first prize check (includes $12,000 first prize, $60 for high squad game, and $1,000 for 300 in bracket play).

The NMO was covered live for 30 hours via BowlStreamTV.

Barnes started slowly there too, with a 370-340 win over Steve Novak of Louisville, Ky., then lost round two, shooting 337 to Dino Castillo‘s, Carrollton, Texas, 446 to send him to the loser’s bracket and “a long day at the office”.

With a large crowd of interested local spectators behind him and drawing on his 19 PBA titles and record eight gold medals in World Bowling World Championships, Barnes eliminated Chad Lusche of Las Vegas (222/256) 478-326, Alfred Wolfe lll of Denver, Colo. (300/258) 558-326, former U.S. Open champion Robert Lawrence of Austin, Texas (212/225) 437-412, England’s Stuart Williams, who resides in Phoenix, Ariz. (225/192) 417-390 and Kris Koeltzow of Denver, Colo. (227/222) 449-410 to make the opening match of the stepladder finals against Castillo.

Castillo (right), 47, another World Bowling World Champion (2003 in trios with Bill Hoffman and Tim Mack) from Texas, had lost to Darren Tang 477-443 in round three, then beat Morgan Moore with 410, 2017 U.S. Open winner Francois Lavoie of Quebec City, Canada with 450 and Emily Eckhoff of Denver with 405 to get a crack at Barnes.

Castillo, who suffered an early illness exit earlier this year at the USBC Masters in Syracuse, N.Y., simply as he put it “ran out of gas”. His 167/139 (306) was no match for Barnes’ 224/175 (399). Castillo finished fourth for $2,250.

Next up, Darren Tang (left) of San Francisco, whose first loss came in round five to Grant in the final of the winner’s bracket, 372-389, a result that could easily have gone the other way. Tang’s winning sets included a 432-425 win over Michael Steele of Amarillo, Texas, 399-397 against Matt McNiel of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 477-443 over Castillo, and 431-398 to Koeltzow.

Barnes opened with 277 to Tang’s 256. The 19-pin lead disappeared in the fourth frame of game two but Barnes recovered with a turkey, while Tang closed with five consecutive single pin spares. Barnes lost the game, 211-202, but won the match, 479-467. Tang received $3,000 for third.

That set up the final match against Grant, who – like Barnes – was making his first appearance at the event. Barnes had to beat the number one seed twice to win the title. The opener was no contest as Barnes cruised to a 105-pin victory, 397-292, to force a deciding second match.

Grant (right) started the final match with six strikes in a row, as Barnes struggled early to carry. Two late opens by Grant in the eighth and ninth gave Barnes a life going in to game two and a five-bagger by him in frames three through seven didn’t hurt after Grant opened again in his seventh frame.

The title was going to go down to the very end after Barnes left a blow-out 7-10 in the ninth and Grant got 29 in his tenth frame requiring Barnes to get twenty to win.

Barnes comfortably converted a 10-pin in his 10th frame and his fill ball strike got him over the line, as he earned $13,060 (from a total prize fund of $56,250) for the 411-410 victory. Grant was rewarded with $6,060 in his first big appearance in a major regional event.

The 16th New Mexico Open is scheduled for August 16-18, 2019,

The 15th edition of the New Mexico Open was the 8th stop of the World Bowling Tour 2018 and the lone tier 3 event this season. WBT tier 3 events award bowlers with two times the number of WBT Rankings points (tier 2 four times and tier 1 six times).

World Bowling Tour is sanctioned by World Bowling, the governing body for the sport of bowling. The tour is the premier international bowling series that is hosted in numerous, unique cities around the globe.

Due to an agreement between World Bowling and the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), World Bowling Tour tournaments will award a PBA Tour title if the winner is a PBA member (who doesn’t accept handicap pins). However, when an event is U.S. based and not a PBA event (such as the New Mexico Open), no PBA title can be granted.

The WBT 2018 currently features twelve stops, one each in Germany, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand and Hong Kong and seven stops on U.S. soil. More events may be added, at least 3 months’ notice provided.

Men and women compete for points to earn places on the World Bowling Tour rankings. The points system is based on a continuous two-year cycle, where points include every event from the previous two year format.

The top three men and top three women in the annual points list will compete in the season-ending World Bowling Tour Finals (date and venue tba).

World Bowling provides governance to international bowling and is made up of 134 bowling international federations. For more information on the World Bowling Tour, click here.

The ninth stop of the 2018 World Bowling Tour season will be the Storm Lucky Larsen Masters, a tier 2 event, which will be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 9 at Baltiska Bowlinghallen in Malmö, Sweden.

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15th New Mexico Open – Stepladder Finals

Double-elimination match play; two-game total pinfall matches.

Championship Round:
1. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $13,060
2. Brandon Grant, Las Vegas, $6,060
3. Darren Tang, San Francisco, Calif., $3,000
4. Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, $2,250

Playoff Results:
First Match: Barnes (224/175) def. Castillo (167/139), 399-306
Semifinal Match: Barnes (277/202) def. Tang (256/211), 479-467
Championship: Barnes (198/199) def. Grant (149/143), 397-292
and in the deciding match, Barnes (201/210) def. Grant (219/191), 411-410.

Final Standings after match play (positions 5-32)

Players with position, state/country, average/games played, won-lost record, and earnings

5. Kris Koeltzow, Colorado, 214.2/10, 3-2, $1,650
6. Emily Eckhoff, Colorado, 194.9/10, 3-2, $1,710
7. Francois Lavoie, Canada, 218.8/10, 3-2, $1,410
8. Stu Williams, Arizona, 217.0/12, 4-2, $1,410
9. Michael Tang, California, 217.3/10, 3-2, $1,050
10. Morgan Moore, Colorado, 189.2/10, 3-2, $1,110
11. Robert Lawrence, Texas, 195.1/8, 2-2, $1,110
12. Jim Pratt, Arizona, 196.8/8, 2-2, $1,110
13. Alfred Wolfe III, Colorado, 197.0/8, 2-2, $900
14. Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Texas, 214.6/8, 2-2, $900
15. Tyler McIntyre, Colorado, 197.5/8, 2-2, $900
16. Steve Smi. California, 194.0/8, 2-2, $900
17. Chris Klerk, Arizona, 209.6/6, 1-2, $650
18. Ricky Schissler, Colorado, 198.6/6, 1-2, $650
19. Chad Lusche, Nevada, 200.6/6, 1-2, $710
20. John Conaway, Arizona, 196.0/6, 1-2, $710
21. Matt McNiel, Minnesota, 187.1/6, 1-2, $650
22. Michael Steele, Texas, 207.8/6, 1-2, $650
23. Vern Peterson, Florida, 186.5/6, 1-2, $650
24. Cory Gonzales, New Mexico, 201.5/6, 1-2, $710
25. Brandon Knowles, Colorado, 189.5/4, 0-2, $510
26. Patrick Hanrahan, Connecticut, 193.2/4, 0-2, $630
27. Steve Novak, Kentucky, 180.7/4, 0-2, $450
28. Brandon Martin, Kansas, 198.7/4, 0-2, $570
29. Mason Moore, Colorado, 190.0/4, 0-2, $570
30. Zach Wilkins, Canada, 201.0/4, 0-2, $570
31. Bryan Van Sickle, California, 186.7/4, 0-2, $510
32. Tyson Branagan, Texas, 196.7/4, 0-2, $510

Herbert Bickel

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