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Turkey’s Mehmet Kaya takes early lead in Sofia International Open


Mehmet Kaya of Turkey was the only bowler who surpassed the 1300-mark on day one qualifying at Bowling center Joy Station in Sofia, Bulgaria, to take the early lead in the 8th Sofia International Open 2017.

Kaya (pictured right and above), who bowled in the opening squad on Saturday morning, had games of 224, 221, 207, 214, 213 and 228 to lead the 82-player field from Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, Peru, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, United States and the host country Bulgaria with 1307 six-game total and an average of 217.83.

Trailing Kaya by 26 pins to sit in second place was Vasilis Stefopoulos of Greece, who paced squad 3 with 1281. Stefopoulos bowled every game during the round above 200 with a high game of 238.

Georgi Dimov (right) was the top Bulgarian bowler in third place with 1266. Dimov opened the second squad with a pair of 200 games, then sandwiched his low game of 175 between a pair of 202 and ended with the tournament high game of 287.

Places 4 through 9 belonged to Henrik Jensen, Denmark (1255), Hristo Georgiev, Bulgaria (1252), Zoran Banjac, Croatia (1251), Georgos Stefanidis, Greece (1229), Todor Lichev, Bulgaria (1213) and Bogdan Obada, Romania (1207).

Rounding out the top 10 after the first day of qualifying was squad 4 leader Alexander Vasekin (left) of Russia, who was the last player who surpassed the 1200-mark (200 average) with 1202.

Marina Stefanova of Bulgaria was the best of eleven women in 13th place with 1145 pinfall (190.83 average) and 1193 total, including eight pins handicap each game, an equality handicap provided to women.

Qualifying continues Sunday, Oct. 22, with squads 5-8 scheduled to start at 10 a.m., 2, 6 and 9.30 p.m. Central European Time (CET).

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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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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