DUBUQUE, IOWA — I now have seen Matt McNiel bowl twice in person and he has won both times. I guess you could say I am twice as impressed as I was with the Minnesota lefty’s formidable skills.
His latest win came over the weekend at the 11thFrame.com Open presented by Coors Light, InsideBowling.com, and Diamond Jo Casino at Cherry Lanes.
On a brutally tough lane conditions, the king of the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships added to his three-eagle resume with a dominating win that was reminiscent of his win last September at the Fusion Realtors Open: he led qualifying, extended his lead through match play and cruised to an easy win in the title match.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t go out of my way to praise lefties, but anyone who doubts McNiel’s abilities is a fool. As I said on Sunday’s InsideBowling.com webcast, the sad thing is that the PBA offers so little these days that a guy of McNiel’s talents would make the easily justifiable decision to stay home, work a “real” job and satisfy his competitive Jones in tournaments like the Fusion, the 11thFrame.com Open and what’s left of the megabucks events.
The 1.8-1 ratio, high volume lane condition was symmetyrical and the only slight advantage McNiel may have had was that the back-ends on the left stayed cleaner, while right-handed carrydown may have given him a touch of downlane hold.
But it's not like he had boards of area, while the righties were trapped — both sides had huge out-of-bounds and no push in the middle.
By midway through match play Sunday morning at Cherry Lanes, it was clear McNiel was going to be the top seed, barring some sort of injury.
The only question was who would emerge to challenge him in the stepladder finals title match.
That turned out to be Shannon Buchan of Waterloo, Iowa, who beat John Brockland, of St. Charles, Missouri, 427-327 in the semifinal match.
Buchan only missed the pocket a couple of times in the last 15 frames against Brockland and it looked like he would give McNiel a tough battle, especially since 13-14 was the one pair used on Sunday that McNiel had some struggles on, including his only game under 200.
But lane 13 seemed to transition a little between the matches and Buchan could never find it, even with a ball change.
McNiel, meanwhile, rolled an extremely fortunate 256 first game that included two brooklyns on lane 14 to take a 78-pin lead. He then survived the second game to take a 447-403 win.
First was $4,000 and second $2,000 as the tournament paid out 106 percent of entry fees.
“It was really special because of the field I had to beat” McNiel said in this InsideBowling.com news release. “The lane pattern was very demanding and you had to make so many good shots over and over again to compete in the very strong field. There were so many great bowlers with great achievements participating this weekend. That in itself, made it special to me and made me see that the hard work I’ve been putting in on my game is paying off. I’d like to thank 900 Global for making such amazing bowling equipment that rolls so well for me.”
Here is my report on Saturday's qualifying.
More than 20 hours of archived webcasts will be posted on InsideBowling.com’s YouTube channel over the next few days. I sat in on B squad on Saturday and most of Sunday’s action.
I was very pleased with how the event turned out. The IB.com crew and Cherry Lanes and general manager Bob Hochrein did a fantastic job, the Diamond Jo Casino provided a great venue, and Coors Light added great sponsorship.
We’re already looking forward to bigger and better things next year. Make plans to join us!
11THFRAME.COM OPEN PRESENTED BY COORS LIGHT, INSIDEBOWLING.COM, & DIAMOND JO CASINO.
Cherry Lanes, Dubuque, IA. Sunday
Championship Match (2 games)
Matt McNiel, Prior Lake, Minnesota ($4,000) def. Shannon Buchan, Waterloo, Iowa ($2,000), 447-403.
Semifinal Match (2 games)
Buchan def. John Brockland, St. Charles, Missouri ($1,500), 427-327.
Round Robin Match Play
1st Place - Matt McNiel +852 (Advance)
2nd Place - Shannon Buchan +594 (Advance)
3rd Place - John Brockland +337 (Advance)
4th Place - Brad Miller +283 ($1,000)
5th Place - Brad Snell +251 ($750)
6th Place - Greg Thomas +232 ($500)
7th Place - Derek Eoff +82 ($400)
8th Place - Andy Millls +49 ($350)
9th Place - Jason Wojnar +23 ($340)
10th Place- Quinton Bohlen -1 ($330)
11th Place - Matt Tomsu -30 ($320)
11th Place - Chad Kloss - 30 ($310)
13th Place - Dan Lemiesz -50 ($300)
14th Place - Greg Pizl - 122 ($290)
15th Place - Brian Burkhardt -171 ($280)
16th Place - Thomas York -438 ($270)
17th Place - Brett Cunningham ($260)
18th Place - Jeff Richgels ($250)
19th Place - Tony Oliva ($240)
20th Place - Daniel Spink ($230)
21st Place - Don Breedon ($220)
22nd Place - TIE - Emily Huddleston & Bryan Roth ($105 Ea.)