If there had been a betting line for the 2020 Greater Iowa Bowling Association 11thFrame.com Open it’s likely Kris Prather at worst would have been a co-favorite with fellow PBA Tour star Jakob Butturff.
Perhaps Butturff would have been a slight favorite due to the success left-handers have had in the tournament at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa the past couple of years and his second-place finish in Friday night’s sweeper.
In Saturday’s qualifying, though, Butturff missed the cut to Sunday’s semifinals by a single pin, while just two lefties made the cut: Jason Craigen in seventh with 1,390 and Rich Blake in 24th at 1,310. Defending champion Nate Stubler, another left-hander, finished 59th at 1,227.
Prather, meanwhile, showed why he is one of the top stars of the PBA Tour by blasting 1,540 for six games on a demanding lane pattern that saw just 71 of the 154 players average 200 or better.
I believe Prather’s total is the highest qualifying score in the tournament’s 8-year history and it put him nearly 100 pins ahead of second-place Chris Hill’s 1,454.
Jerry Marrs was third at 1,417, Brody Green fourth with 1,413, and Lyle Kuhlmann fifth at 1,406.
2018 PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson highlighted the day with a perfect game. Here is his 12th strike.
Of the 48 who advanced, 14 were on A squad, 22 on B squad, and 12 on C squad.
The squad leaders were Clayton Mohr for A at 1,381, Prather for B, and Hill for C.
Logan Williams was 48th at 1,255, and last cash was Alex Denton in 52nd at 1,248. Enough senior players made the cut that there were no extra senior checks. Three women cashed for $160 each: Jenna Williams at 1,233, PWBA Tour champion Erin McCarthy 1,209, and Sydney Urben 1,176.
The lane pattern for the weekend is similar to what we've used in the past few years at 43.5 feet with high volume of 37.38 mL of oil, which we need to hold up through 12 games on Sunday. The pattern is asymmetrical with a left side ratio of 1.43-1 and a right side ratio of 1.7-1 for the zones of 18-18 and 3-7 boards
The pattern, which is done by Cherry Lanes general manager Bob Hochrein, is closest to the 2018 pattern, which was 43.5 feet, 37.58, 1.43-1 on the left and 1.66-1 on the right. In other words, the right should play a little softer.
Right-hander Andy Mills won in 2018, but lefties went 2-3-4 in qualifying and finished 3-5-6. After cashing in Friday’s sweeper, Mills struggled to 1,047 on A squad on Saturday, leaving several pocket 7-10s and missing too many makeable spares, he said in a message.
Sunday’s innovative format that comes from the fertile mind of Mike Flanagan features 12 games of bowling starting at 9 a.m. with bonus pins based on score from highest to lowest. For example, if 48 advance to Sunday in each game the highest scorer will get 48 bonus pins, the second-highest scorer 47 pins, so on down to 1 bonus pin for the lowest score each game. Whatever number of finalists there are, that number of bonus pins will go to the high scorer down to 1 pin for the lowest score each game.
Yes, it’s not head-to-head; instead, it’s all-against-one. The idea is to reward the consistently solid bowler and not the one who may bowl the right people at the right time. And everyone who makes the cut gets to bowl all of Sunday's games.
Semifinals results will be posted in a Google doc that GIBA will update after each game.
After those 12 games, the top five will compete in a stepladder finals on fresh oil. I am heading down Sunday to show the stepladder on Facebook live with Mark London joining me for commentary.