Mike Clark strung 10 consecutive strikes in a 287 qualifying game, then unloaded eight in a row to begin the title game in winning the eighth of an ongoing string of Champions Series scratch sweepers at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes on Tuesday (March 22).
In the final two-player showdown, Clark left no doubt as to the outcome after coming out of the gate with an eight-bagger before being stopped by a 3-6 spare combination on a high hit in the ninth frame. He finished with a 276 game that bested John Thompson, who settled for the runner-up position despite posting a creditable 224 score.
Clark had opened the three-game qualifying session with games of 211 and 243, but he needed every one of the 287 final-game pins to edge third-place Justin Carroll by a single pin.
Thompson earned the top qualifying spot with a 759 series on games of 258, 255 and 246, while Carroll just missed a berth in the championship game despite rolling a 740 series on scores of 232, 252 and 256 on the Storm English Open lane-conditioning pattern.
“I owe my victory to an amazing ball change in the seventh frame of the first (qualifying) game,” Clark said. “Johnny (Thompson) even made a joke, saying that I gave everyone a six-frame head start. In the 287 game, I had a 9-pin spare in the first frame and struck the rest of the way until the last ball, when I left a 3-6-10.”
Clark joins Mike Thompson as the only two-event champions. Thompson prevailed in Weeks 1 and 7, while Clark’s other victory came in Week 4. The other champs were James McCleland, Steve Baran, Scott Kaplan and Saul Insignares.
The ninth and next-to-last regular week of competition will take place next Tuesday (March 29), and tournament director Chuck Souzer will again utilize the same Storm English Open pattern.
Entry fee each Tuesday is $20. Sign-up and registration begin at 6:15 p.m., with practice starting at 6:50 p.m. First place pays a guaranteed minimum of $75, based on only 10 entries. The format calls for three qualifying games on a modified house pattern, after which there will be a 1-in-5 cut, and the survivors roll one game for the title (or force a cut to the top two for a final title-game showdown).
After the series concludes its regular 10-week run, there will be a Week 11 finale, open only to those who have competed in at least a half-dozen of the weekly sweepers. There is $2 set aside each week to be added to the Week 11 prize fund. Brackets are available, and for additional information, call Gary Gooch at 921-4447.
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