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Former Norwegian Open champ James Gruffman cracks top 8

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The race for top seeds is heating up at the Norwegian Open 2017 by Brunswick as nine players in the first squad on Saturday, 21st overall, surpassed the 1300-mark to raise the score to make the qualifying cut to 1308 (218 average).

James Gruffman (pictured above) of Sweden, who won the Norwegian Open 2013 for his only European Bowling Tour title, averaged almost 230 this morning at Veitvet Bowling Center in Oslo to leap into seventh place with 1378 (229.67).

Gruffman started his six-game series with 256, 234, 216, 258 and 206 and had a chance to crack the 1400-bar with 230 in the last game. The draw sent the tall lefty far to the left to lanes 11 and 12 (only lanes 11-26 will be used for the tournament) with the handicap of a low hanging air condition next to lane 11.

Gruffman who barely fit under the unit (right) and whose back swing always was centimeters away from it (left) managed a late doubles to close with 208 to position himself in the top 8, who will advance to the fourth round of the finals.

Ruben Hansen Sælen (right) of Norway and Mikael Roos of Sweden moved into the group of players who will receive two byes for the finals (places 9-16).

The Norwegian rebounded from a slow start (185 and 207) with games of 264, 258, 210 and 245 to leap 50 places to 12th place with 1369. Roos closed his set with a huge 278 game for 1362 to shoot into 16th place in his first attempt.

Mattias Jansson of Sweden rolled all games between 201 and 258 to shift from 22nd to 17th, but remained in the group of players who will receive a first-round bye (places 17-24).

His father Raymond Jansson and his older brother Markus Jansson continued to lead the 208-player field from seven countries with record 1602 and 1466, respectively.

Jimmy Dan Mortensen (right) of Denmark, the 2015 Norwegian Open champion, was mere one pin behind Jansson in 18th place with 1360. The Dane had four games between 206 and 233 and a high game of 286 and low game of 180.

Thomas Fredrik Fagerstrøm (left) of Norway closed with a huge 268 game for 1345. Though he missed the top 24 by just two pins Fagerstrøm is 37 pins above the cutline in 26th place and would miss the semi-final round (placed 25-28).

Skúli Freyr Sigurdsson became the third player from the 12-player contingent from Iceland to move into the top 42 (8th place Arnar Davíð Jónsson and 41st place Einar Már Björnsson are the others) as he finished his set with 257 and 237 for 1343, good for 28th place overall, the last place to bypass the semi-final round later this evening.

Jens Sjöbohm of Sweden, Fredrik Tjernes (right) and Håvar Wolden Skog, both Norway, are currently qualified for the semi-finals. Sjöbohm managed 1326 to sit in 35th place, Tjernes (right) rollercoasted his way to 39th place with 1321 and Wolden Skog landed in 40th place with 1317, just two spots and nine pins above the cutline.

With two more squads to come John Fossum of Norway is the man “on the bubble” in 42nd place with 1308 and an average of 218.00. For the records, 1308 was the cutoff number last year.

Ida Andersson (left) of Sweden is only woman out of 36 in the top 42 in 34th place with 1326, including handicap.

Qualifying concludes on Saturday, October 14, with squads 22 and 23 scheduled to start at 1 and 5 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). Following at 9 p.m. is the semi-final round for qualifiers 29-60.

Bowlingdigital will provide onsite coverage from Veitvet Bowling Center in Oslo featuring stories, photos and results after each round commencing Thursday all the way through to the finals on Sunday, October 15, completed in the late afternoon.

The Norwegian Open 2017 by Brunswick runs from Oct. 6-15 at 26-lane Veitvet Bowling Center in Norway’s capital city of Oslo and is the 11th and final stop of the 2017 European Bowling Tour and also the last of three EBT “Bronze” tournaments this season.

The tournament offers total prize money of 275.000 Norwegian Kronor (currently 29.305 Euro), 36.000 NOK more than last year, with 45.000 NOK (approx. 4.795 Euro) going to the winner and a last-to-cash payout of 2.000 Kronor or 213 Euro for 60th place.

Qualifying at the Norwegian Open begins Friday, Oct. 6 and concludes Saturday, Oct. 14 with the final Squad 23 scheduled to start at 5 p.m. local time (CEST).

Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (maximum is 300), an equality handicap provided to women in all EBT events. The top 3 women after qualifying will receive 5.000 NOK, 3.000 NOK and 2.000 NOK bonuses, respectively.

Total 60 players will advance to the finals on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14 & 15, including the top 42 players from the overall qualifying standings, two players from a separate leaderboard of squads 1-7, who are not among the top 42, the next four women, the next four juniors (must not be born before Sept. 1, 1999), the next four seniors (must be 50 years of age on Oct. 6th) and two players each from the Turbo 1 and 2 list (highest score in qualifying game 5 and 6, respectively; separate fee necessary).

The top 8 qualifiers are seeded in Round 4, qualifiers 9-16 go to Round 3, qualifiers 17-24 start in Round 2 and qualifiers 25-28 begin in Round 1.

The other 32 finalists advance to Saturday’s semifinal round which begins at 9 p.m. CEST. All players bowl six games scratch with the top 12 advancing to Round 1 starting on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

The remaining forty players determine the champion in five three-game rounds (rounds 1-4 starting from scratch). The field is trimmed to 32, 24, 16, and then eight players who bowl the last three-game round with the pinfall from Round 4 being carried forward.

The player with the highest six-game total will win the title, the 45.000 NOK top prize and 100 EBT ranking points (men and women in separate rankings).

The 2017 European Bowling Tour features 11 tournaments in 9 countries including two “Platinum”, two “Gold”, one “Silver”, three “Bronze” and three “Satellite” events, which offer total prize fund of roughly 560.000 Euro.

The top 50 men and the top 50 women in each event receive ranking points. Those points will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the top 8 men and top 8 women, who will be eligible to compete in the 11th EBT Masters April 23, 2018 in Tilburg, Netherlands.

Carsten Warming Hansen (586 points) of Denmark and Sweden’s Pontus Andersson (557), who both have registered for the event, will determine the 2017 EBT men’s point ranking winner.

Jenny Wegner of Sweden has already sealed the victory in the women’s division. Nevertheless, the Norwegian Open will decide the top eight men and top eight women in the respective point ranking, who will qualify for the EBT Masters.

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60 players, including the top 42 players from the overall qualifying standings, will advance to the finals on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14 & 15

300 games (1) – Raymond Jansson.

Herbert Bickel

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