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James Gruffman averages 244 to take the early lead in Stockholm


James Gruffman of Sweden averaged 244.17 in the second squad Tuesday at Bowl-O-Rama in Stockholm, Sweden, to take the early lead in the qualifying of the European Bowling Tour’s AIK International Tournament Powered by Track.

Gruffman (right and above), who won his lone European Bowling Tour title in the 2013 Norwegian Open, rolled a 1332 six-games series in squad 1 and improved by 133 pins in the second squad to lead a field of 70 bowlers with 1465, including games of 278, 238, 258, 208, 246 and 237.

Gruffman’s fellow countrywoman Isabelle Hultin (left) was just two pins back in second place behind games of 254, 246, 199, 256, 238 and 222 for 1415 scratch, an average of 235.83, and added 48 pins women’s handicap for 1463 total.

Peter Hellström (right) of Sweden led the opening squad with 1427 and an average of 237.83 to finish day one qualifying in third place. Hellström, who won the last of his three EBT titles in the 2016 Aalborg International, had games of 194, 226, 289, 259, 215 and 244.

Filip Wilhelmsson, Sweden, was fourth with 1388 and was followed by Thailand’s national team member Kim Bolleby in fifth place with 1387 and Richard Dahllöf, Sweden, in sixth place with 1384.

2008 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup champion Jasmine Yeong-Nathan (left) of Singapore was the second woman in the top 8 in seventh place with 1379, including handicap. Rounding out the top 8, who will go directly to Final Round 2 at the end of the qualifying, was Alfred Berggren of Sweden, who toppled 1374 pins.

Qualifying continues on Wednesday, December 27, with squad 3 (last “early bird” squad) scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Central European Time (CET).

The 38th AIK International Tournament Powered by Track, which will be held from December 26th through January 7th at Bowl-O-Rama in Stockholm, Sweden, is the season-opening event of the 2018 European Bowling Tour.

The AIK, one of two newcomers on the Tour and one of three EBT “silver” tournaments this season, offers total prize money of 475.000 Swedish Kronor (SEK), roughly 48.000 Euro or 57,000 U.S. Dollar, including extra prizes for women, seniors, juniors and under 200 average bowlers.

The champion will walk away with the 60.000 SEK top prize (6.070€ / $7,195), with 30.000 SEK going to the runner-up and 20.000 SEK to the third place finisher. Low to cash is 56th place, worth 4.500 SEK (455€ / $540).

Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) begins Tuesday, Dec. 26, with squads 1 & 2 and concludes Saturday, Jan. 7, with squad 23.

Women will receive 8 pins handicap each game (up to 292 – maximum score is 300), an equality handicap provided to women in all EBT events.

Total 100 players will advance, including the top 74 in the overall qualifying standings, the top 4 “early birds” (squads 1-3), top 4 women, top 4 juniors (born in 1997 or later), top 4 seniors (born in 1968 or earlier) and top 4 bowlers with a certified average under 200, who are not among the top 74, plus the top 3 players each from Turbo G5 (highest qualifying game #5) and Turbo G6 (highest qualifying game #6).

The top 8 qualifiers go directly to Final Round 2, while qualifiers 9-38, the four “early birds” and the Turbo G5 and G6 leaders advance to Final Round 1. The remaining 56 finalists meet in the semi-final round on Saturday evening, Jan. 6, to bowl six games starting from scratch with the top 12 advancing to Final Round 1 on Sunday morning, Jan. 7.

Final Round 1 and 2 are also six-game rounds beginning from scratch (no carryover pins), which trim the field to 32 and then 16 players. Round 2 pins carry over to the finals.

Final Round 3 and 4 are four-game rounds after which the field is cut to the top 8 and then three players, who determine the champion in a stepladder final. No. 3 takes on no. 2 for the right to bowl the top-seed for the title.

The 2018 European Bowling Tour features 13 tournaments in 10 countries including two “platinum”, two “gold”, three “silver”, three “bronze” and three “satellite” events, which will offer total prize fund of more than 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 12th EBT Masters July 8, 2019 at Bowling Chamartín in Madrid, Spain.

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Herbert Bickel

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