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Four players crack top 6 in Sofia to earn automatic berths in the finals


Georgos Stefanidis of Greece continued to lead the qualifying of the 8th Sofia International Open 2017 after Tuesday’s squads 13-16 to lock up the first of six berths in Sunday’s finals.

The top six after the first 16 of 35 qualifying squads will earn automatic berths in the finals if they will drop out of the top 44 in the overall qualifying standings. If Stefanidis or any of the other will finish in the top 44, the automatic spot drops to the next player in the squad 1-16 standings.

Stefanidis (right) leads the 133-player field from 18 countries with 1366 and an average of 227.67. The only other player who stayed in the top 6 was Tomas Käyhkö of Finland, who slipped from second to third place with 1360.

Four players moved into the top 6 Tuesday at bowling center Joy Station in Sofia, Bulgaria. Sandwiched between Stefanidis and Käyhkö was Teemu Putkisto (left) of Finland. Putkisto who led squads 12 on Monday with 1259 improved by 104 pins in squad 14 to jump into second place with 1363, including high games of 268 and 256.

Alexandru Arbanas of Romania was just eight pins back to leap into fourth place with 1355, closing out with 267 and 240.

Squad 10 leader Alexey Parshukov (right) of Russia also won squad 15 with 1338 to improve his high score by 51 pins and to move into fifth place in the overall standings. Rounding out the top 6 was Gheorghe Nicolae (pictured above) who paced squad 13 on Tuesday morning with 1327.

Just outside the top 6 were Ukrainians Roman Ilyin (left) and Vladyslav Ialovega in seventh and eighth place with 1320 and 1313, respectively.

The top eight players at the end of the qualifying portion will receive two byes for the finals.

Long-time Malaysian national team member Zulmazran Zulkifli, who was next to Parshukov and Ilyin in squad 15, took 12th place with 1292 to sit in the group of qualifiers (9th to 16th place) who will earn a first-round bye.

ZZ as he is more commonly called, a relatively recent convert to the two-handed bowling style, currently lives in London with his wife Rush (pictured right). A regular competitor on the PBA Tour, he recently bowled in the Norwegian Open and the Swedish League.

Also in the top 16 was Victor Popa (left) of Romania, who led squad 16 Tuesday night with 1252, good for 15th place overall.

Marina Stefanova of Bulgaria became the best of 18 women in the field in 22nd place totaling 1252 pins in squad 13, including 48 pins handicap. Her fellow countryman Nikolay Petrov currently holds the 44th and last spot to advance with 1172 or an average of 195.33.

Qualifying continues Wednesday, Oct. 25, with squads 17-20 scheduled to start at 10 a.m., 2, 6 and 9.30 p.m. Central European Time (CET) and squad 21 at 1 a.m. on early Thursday morning.

The 8th Sofia International Open 2017, a popular but non-European Bowling Tour event, will be held from Oct. 21-29 at bowling center Joy Station, a 20-laner in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. The tournament offers total prize fund of 55.000 Euro with 7.000 Euro going to the winner and a last-to-cash payout of 350 Euro for 56th place.

Qualifying of the Sofia Open starts on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST), and runs through Saturday, Oct. 28, with the final squad 35 scheduled for 9.30 p.m. Qualifying concludes with the one-game Desperado Squad. Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (maximum is 300).

Total 56 players will advance to the finals on Sunday, Oct. 29, including top 44 qualifiers, top 6 from squads 1-16, top 2 from squads 17-25, and top 4 of the Desperado Squad. Top 8 qualifiers will earn two byes and qualifiers 9-16 receive a first-round bye.

The other 40 players will advance to the first of four 4-game rounds (rounds 1-3 starting from scratch). The field will be trimmed to 36, 20, and then 10 players who will determine the finalists in the last four-game round with the pinfall from Round 3 being carried forward. The top 4 after eight games will bowl for the title in a traditional stepladder final.

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8th Sofia International Open 2017 – Qualifying Standings after 16/35 Squads

Top 44 qualifiers, top 6 from squads 1-16, top 2 from squads 17-25, and top 4 of the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals.

Herbert Bickel

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