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Timi Taalas shoots first 300 in Ballmaster Open, earns 3.000 Euro bonus


Shayna Ng of Singapore took the pole position in the Brunswick Ballmaster Open on Wednesday but it was Timi Taalas of Finland who stole the spotlight on a high-scoring squad 7 as he rolled the first perfect game in this tournament at Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, Finland.

The 28-year-old right-hander (pictured right and above), who works in the 36-lane bowling center, reeled off 12 consecutive strikes in game five and secured a 3.000 Euro bonus for the first perfecto in the 48th edition of the prestigious event. Taalas finished the day in 34th place with 1325.

Just one game later, Taalas’ compatriot Lauri Sipilä (left), 21, posted the second 300 game and will join Taalas and any other bowler who achieves perfection in a winner-takes-all roll-off for 2.000 Euro at the end the tournament.

Total 15 players, eight in squad 7 and seven in squad 8, surpassed the 1400-mark on Wednesday.

Ng (above), who owns the women’s world championships record for six games with 1601, an average of 266.83), rolled games of 279, 257, 216, 256, 238 and 203 for 1449 scratch (241.50) and added 48 pins handicap to lead the 424-player field, 362 men and 62 women from 13 countries, with 1497 total.

Malaysia’s Alex Liew (right) and Shalin Zulkifli (left), who led squad 8 with 1465 and 1464, respectively, moved into second and third place in the overall standings. Liew had a high game of 668 and a pair of 250s, while Zulkifli, who won the coveted team title with the Malaysian women’s team at the World Bowling Championships last month, had high games of 279 and 268.

Ng’s fellow countrywoman and 2017 Ballmaster Open champion Daphne Tan (right) was second in squad 7 to finish the day in fourth place with 1448.

PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III (left), USA, and Rafiq Ismail, who were next to Ismail’s compatriots Liew and Zulkifli in squad 8 with 1446 and 1445, leaped into fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Previous leader and two-time Ballmaster Open champion Kimmo Lehtonen (right) slipped six spots and is the best Finnish bowler in seventh place with 1443.

Joining Lehtonen in the 1400-club were Teemu Putkisto (left), Finland (1440), 2015 and 2017 European Bowling Tour women’s point ranking leader Jenny Wegner, Sweden (1439), South Africa’s Francois Louw (1422), Sipilä (1421), Joonas Jähi (below right), Finland (1415), Martin Paulsson, Sweden (1411) and Samuli Tiainen, Finland (1410).

Squad 1 leader and three-time Ballmaster Open winner Pasi Uotila of Finland dropped from second to 15th place with 1407. Elisa Hiltunen and Magnus Lönnroth, who totaled 1404 and 1402, brought the number of 1400-series to 17.

The cut raised by 77 pins during the two squads on Wednesday. Kaaron Salomaa of Finland holds the 40th and last place to advance with 1313 or an average of 218.83.

Qualifying continues Thursday, January 11 with squads 9 & 10 scheduled to start at 3 and 7 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET).

Photos courtesy of Seija Lankinen.

The 48th Brunswick Ballmaster Open will be held from January 5-14 at 36-lane Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland. Other than last year, when the BBO was a “platinum” level tournament, the 48th edition of the prestigious event is one of two “gold” events this season, the second highest of five EBT categories (satellite, bronze, silver, gold and platinum).

The BBO offers total prize money of 83.700 Euro, including all extra prizes, with 10.000 Euro going to the winner, 6.000 Euro to the runner-up and 4.000 Euro apiece to the third and fourth place finishers. Low to cash is 48th place, worth 800 Euro.

The tournament offers 3.000 Euro for the first 300 game, or for the highest game if there will be no 300 game.

Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) begins Friday, Jan. 5, with squads 1 & 2 and concludes Saturday, Jan. 13, with squad 16 followed by the ultimate one-game Desperado Squad slated for 7 p.m. Eastern European Time (EET).

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

Total 48 players, including the top 40 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 2 from a separate leaderboard of squads 9-10 and the top 3 of squads 1-8, who are not among the top 40 plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad, qualify for the finals. The top 12 qualifiers receive a first-round bye.

The other 36 finalists bowl six games starting from scratch with the top 24 advancing to the second round. Those 24 join the top 12 qualifiers to bowl eight games starting from scratch.

The top 16 players will be seeded into two groups according to their positions: Group A (1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16) and Group B (2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15). Round 2 pins carry over. The group phase features seven games of round robin match play (no position round). During match play, players receive 30 bonus pins for winning a match and 15 pins each in the event of a tie.

The 15-game totals, including all bonus pins, will determine the top two players in each group who advance to the semi-finals (B1 vs. A2 and A1 vs. B2). The semi-final winners will bowl for the title (all one-game head-to-head matches).

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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2018 Brunswick Ballmaster Open – Qualifying Standings after Squad 8/16

Top 40 from the overall qualifying standings, the top 2 from a separate leaderboard of squads 9-10 and the top 3 of squads 1-8, plus the top 3 from the Desperado Squad will advance to the finals. The top 12 qualifiers will receive a first-round bye.

300 games (2) – Timi Taalas, Lauri Sipilä.

Herbert Bickel

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