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Valentin Saulnier averages over 260 to shoot into lead in San Marino

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Valentin Saulnier of France had a career day Tuesday at Rose’n Bowl in Serravalle when he averaged 262.17 for six games to shoot into the lead in the qualifying of the Storm San Marino Open with 1573.

Saulnier (featured photo) started the afternoon squad 7 with a solid 217 before he connected on the next 12 shots for the tournament’s second 300 game. He added 236 in game three, followed by two near-perfect games, 299 and 296, and closed with 225.

Saulnier’s huge block, however, is 48 pins shy of the unofficial European Bowling Tour record for six games. The elite 1600-club currently consists of four players, two Finns and two Swedes.

Two-time PBA Player of the Year Mika Koivuniemi (left) holds the record with 1621 and an average of 270.17 since the German Open 2014, including games of 276, 214, 268, 288, 300 and 275.

Koivuniemi’s fellow countryman Osku Palermaa (right) previously held the record with 1614 (269 average) set at the 2013 Vienna Open, including games of 279, 247, 257, 273, 279 and 279.

Martin Larsen (left) of Sweden was the first who surpassed the 1600-mark in EBT competition when he posted a 1603 series, a 267.17 average, at the 2008 Istanbul Open in Turkey, including games of 242, 268, 280, 300, 234 and 279.

Larsen’s compatriot Raymond Jansson (right) became the fourth and most recent member of the elite 1600-club when he totaled 1602 in the Norwegian Open 2017 which included games of 243, 238, 258, 300, 268 and 295, a 267 average.

Nicola Pongolini (left) of Italy became the second player in squad 7 and the third in the 14th edition of the event who surpassed the 1500-mark. Pongolini was 29 pins ahead of Saulnier after four games after averaging 270.25 for 1081 before being slowed by 183 in game five. He rebounded with 258 to jump into second place with 1522 total and an overall average of 253.67.

Previous leader Antonino Fiorentino (right) slipped to third place in 99-player field from 16 countries with 1515 and an average of 252.50.

Sweden’s Robin Persson (left) and Markus Jansson led squad 8 on Tuesday evening to move into fourth and fifth place in the standings. Persson started the squad with the third 300 game and missed his second perfecto four games later by mere one pin on his way to a 1490 series (248.33).

Jansson (right), who owns one EBT title, was 11 pins behind with 1479 (246.50), including a near-perfect 298 effort in the fourth game.

Another four players cracked the 1400-mark Tuesday to move into the top 15, including Edward Smaglik, USA (6th, 1445); Mark Jacobs, Netherlands (left; 8th, 1427), Tommaso Radi, Italy (12th, 1416) and one-time EBT champion James Gruffman, Sweden (13th, 1408).

Maxime de Rooij, Netherlands, is still the best of eight women in 23rd place with 1321 total, including eight pins women’s handicap each game. She was joined in the top 35 by Jenny Wegner of Sweden (right; 28th, 1298), who won her first EBT title in the Brunswick Euro Challenge this year, and Eleni Triantou of Greece (30th, 1291).

With eight out of 20 qualifying squads in the books, Maurizio Celli (left) of Italy is the man “on the bubble” in 35th place with 1275 and an average of 212.50. In the 13th San Marino Open, it took 1393 (232.17) to survive the cut.

Qualifying continues Wednesday, July 11, with squads 9, 10 and 11 scheduled to start at noon, 4 and 8 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST).

The Storm San Marino Open is the 7th stop of the 2018 European Bowling Tour and the second and last EBT “Gold” tournaments this season. Francois Lavoie of Canada is the defending champion.

The 14th edition will be held July 7-15 at 18-lane Rose’n Bowl in Serravalle, San Marino and offers total prize fund of 62.100 Euro with 8.000 Euro going to the winner, 5.000 to the runner-up, 3.300 to the third and 2.400 to the fourth place finisher.

Qualifying of the San Marino Open (six-game series, unlimited re-entries) runs from Saturday, July 7, through Saturday, July 14, with the last qualifying squad 20 scheduled for 7 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). The qualifying winner will receive a 1.000 Euro bonus.

Qualifying concludes with the one-game Desperado Squad scheduled to start at 10 p.m. Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (maximum is 300) throughout the entire tournament, a standard for women on the European Bowling Tour. The top three women based on the final standings will receive 500, 350 and 200 Euro bonuses, respectively.

Total 48 players will advance to the finals on Sunday, July 15, including the top 35 qualifiers plus the top 3 each from the squads conducted on July 7 & 8 and 9 & 10, the top 4 from the squads conducted on July 11 & 12, and the top 3 from the Desperado Squad.

The top 8 qualifiers receive two byes and qualifiers 9-16 get a first-round bye. The other 32 players will bowl four games from scratch to cut to the top 16, who will meet qualifiers 9-16 in the second round. Those 24 bowl another four games from scratch to cut to the top 10, who will join the top eight in the last six-game round before the cut to the top 4.

The four finalists will determine the winner in an eliminator-format finals which will feature three one-game rounds. All four players bowl the opening game, with the lowest-scoring player being eliminated. In the two rounds to follow, the same “low man out” format applies, with pinfall carrying over. The last player standing will be declared the champion.

The 2018 European Bowling Tour features 12 tournaments in 10 countries including two “platinum”, two “gold”, three “silver”, two “bronze” and three “satellite” events, which offer total prize fund of roughly 625.000 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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14th Storm San Marino Open – Qualifying Standings after Squad 8/20

Total 48 players will advance to the finals on Sunday, July 15, including the top 35 qualifiers plus the top 3 each from the squads conducted on July 7 & 8 and 9 & 10, the top 4 from the squads conducted on July 11 & 12, and the top 3 from the Desperado Squad.

300 games (3) – Artemii Zubkov, Valentin Saulnier, Robin Persson.

Herbert Bickel

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