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Malin Gref, Jesper Svensson lead Squad 6 at AIK International Tournament

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Malin Gref and PBA star Jesper Svensson, both of Sweden, were the only bowlers of a full 56-player squad 6 who surpassed the 1300-mark in the qualifying of the 38th AIK International Tournament Powered by Track Saturday afternoon at Bowl-O-Rama in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gref (pictured right and above), who started the fifth day of qualifying in 43rd place after posting a 1263 series, including handicap, in yesterday’s squad 5, improved by 114 pins to jump into 10th place with 1377.

The member of the host AIK Club rolled games of 231, 224, 192, 277, 170 and 235 for 1329 scratch, an average of 221.50, and received eight pins handicap each game, an equality handicap provided to women in all European Bowling Tour events.

Svensson (left), a two-handed lefty who won his 7th career PBA Tour title in the Cheetah Championship during the PBA World Series of Bowling IX in Reno, Nev., in November, used six games between 209 and 238 for 1315 to take 27th place on leaderboard.

With six out of 23 squads in the books, Swedish bowlers occupy the top 5 spots and eight out of the top 10.

James Gruffman, who is looking to win his second European Bowling Tour title, continued to lead the 228-player field from seven countries (Åland Islands, Finland, Iceland, Singapore, Thailand, United States and the host country Sweden) with 1465 and an average of 244.17 for six games.

The best woman in the field, Isabelle Hultin, was just two pins behind in second place with 1463, including handicap, followed by three-time EBT champion Peter Hellström in third place with 1427, Joakim Biehl in fourth place with 1405 and Filip Wilhelmsson (left) in fifth place with 1388.

Former Swedish youth international, Kim Bolleby (left), now a member of Thailand’s national team, is the best non-Swedish bowler in sixth place with 1387. Squad 5 leader Björn Lindqvist, Sweden, tied Bolleby but was ranked seventh due to the lower last game, 259 to 255 in Bolleby’s favor.

Rounding out the top 8, will earn two byes and skip the semi-final round and the first round of the finals, is currently Richard Dahllöf of Sweden with 1384 or an average of 230.67.

2008 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup champion Jasmine Yeong-Nathan of Singapore is the second woman in ninth place with 1379, including handicap, just two pins ahead of Gref, who rounds out the top 10.

The cut for the top 38 who will miss the semi-final round is Jesper Ekstedt of Sweden with 1280 (213.33) and his compatriot Dennis Andersson currently holds the 74th and last place to advance from the overall leaderboard with 1219 or an average of 203.17, including handicap.

Qualifying is taking a break over New Year’s Eve, returning to action in 2018 on Monday, January 1, with squad 7 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 28-lane Bowl-O-Rama in Stockholm, Sweden, is the season-opening event of the 2018 European Bowling Tour.

A newcomer on the Tour, the “silver” level tournament 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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38th AIK International – Qualifying Standings after Squad 6/23

Players with position, country and 6-game total; women’s scores including 8 pins handicap each game. Top 74 qualifiers plus another 26 players will advance.

Herbert Bickel

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