7th Kingdom International Open

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PBA pro wins in Saudi Arabia

16th December, Riyadh

Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, SC., United States had to beat top seed, Michael Mak of Hong Kong twice in the championship match of the 7th Kingdom International Open stepladder finals to win his fifth PBA international title

Jones made a bad shot in the second frame of the first match leaving a big five split but recovered superbly with three strikes-in-a-row to trail Mak by 2 pins at the halfway mark.

When Mak rolled three consecutive strikes of his own, the American powered his way through by striking out to take the first match, 247-218 and forcing a deciding match.

Jones gave little room to the top seed as he started off with six consecutive strikes as the Hong Kong national rallied on with five of his own to narrow the gap to just 10 pins after the seventh frame.

border Tommy Jones with the champion's trophy and cheque

Mak threw a seemingly perfect shot only to see a solid pin 10 standing firmly while Jones replied with a double in the eighth and ninth frames. Mak struck thrice and a nine pin count to end with 258.

This meant that Jones had to strike in the tenth to seal victory and to the delight of the large crowd that had gathered to witness a world-class final, the American obliged and went on to win the decider with 268.

"Michael bowled well to take top spot and I knew it'll be no easy match," said Jones, who pocketed the top prize of US$25,000 as champion and his 15th PBA title. "I made a bad shot in the first match and I had to work extra hard to string together that many strikes.

"I had a good break in ninth and tenth frames of the first match and another in the fifth and sixth frames in the second match. Both of us made many good shots and it was a case of who had a better carry. I'm glad it worked out better for me."

The champion had another close match against fourth-seed and last year's first runner-up, Yousif Falah when he edged the Bahraini, 218-211 in the second match to earn a crack at the title.

Yousif easily dispatched third-seed and a second American PBA pro, Bill O'Neill and fifth-seed, Daniel Fransson of Sweden, 258-217-193 in the opening stepladder match to face Jones.

Mak settled for US$12,000 as first runner-up while Yousif took home US$7,000. O'Neill and Fransson earned US$4,500 each.

border Top 3 winners, Mak, Jones and Yousif

In the earlier 8-game Final Round, Mak topped the field with 2053 pinfalls followed by Jones in second with 1934 and O'Neill third with 1898. Yousif and Fransson made the cut in foruth and fifth with 1895 and 1894 respectively.

Top qualifier, Tim Mack of USA, who was fourth before the final game, missed the cut by 13 pins after ending up in sixth while the top Saudi, Bader A Sheikh finished seventh with 1878.

HRH Prince Abdul Hakim Al Saud, President of Saudi Bowling Federation and several members of the Royal family were on hand to present the prizes to the winners. Prince Hakim also presented souvenirs to the sponsors of the tournament.

The top 16 Asians who qualified for the final leg of the ABF Tour - Saudi Arabia which will be held at the same bowling centre tomorrow.

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PBA pro wins semi-final round

15th December, Riyadh

Two-time DHC-IBC champion, Tommy Jones of United States won the semi-final round of the 7th Kingdom International Open ahead of Wicky Yeung of Hong Kong in second and Abdulla Al Dolijan of Saudi Arabia third.

The 34-year-old Jones set a blistering pace with 289, 279 and 278 in his first three games to take a 41-pin lead over Yeung, who also downed three big games of 279, 258 and 268 himself.

Abdulla was the best of seven Saudis in the semi-final in a distant third with a second PBA pro, Bill O'Neill, a further pin away in fourth. At the halfway mark, both the leading duo continued to battle it out as Abdulla inched closer in third.

The 2001-02 PBA Rookie of the Year and 2005-06 PBA Bowler of the Year kept up a strong pace to remain lead up to the seventh game in which the American lost the lead briefly to Yeung after a lowly 194.

border Tommy Jones leading eleven others into the Final Round

Jones bounced back with a final game of 279 to finish top with 2027 while Yeung managed only 184 to settle for second with 1946. Abdulla retained third spot with 1855, 91 pins from Yeung and 172 from the leader.

O'Neill, who was third before the final game, slipped to fourth with 1838 while last week's Qatar Open champion, Dominic Barrett leapfrog from 12th with 268 to round out the top 5 with 1819.

Bahrain's Yousif Falah finished sixth with 1817 followed by the sole Swede, Daniel Fransson in seventh position with 1814.

Day 3 high series winner, Josh Blanchard of USA took eighth position with 1806 ahead of a second Hong Kong national, Michael Mak ninth with 1799, Basel Al Anzi of Kuwait tenth with 1788.

Abu Dhabi World Tour champion, Thomas Larsen of Denmark made the cut in 11th position with 1783 while Tom Hess of USA, who was eighth before the last game, missed the cut by 22 pins.

The 12th spot reserved for a best Saudi outside the top 11 was decided by a 9th and 10 frame roll-off to break the tie of 1726 between Yasser Abu Reesh and Adel Al Bargi. Adel beat Yasser 37-38 in the tie breaker to advance.

border Wicky Yeung finishing a strong second to Jones

Defending champion, Martin Larsen of Sweden failed to advance ending in 20th position. The top 12 will be joined by the top 4 seeded qualifiers for another 8 games in the Final Round tomorrow.

The top 5 finishers will proceed to the stepladder shooutout with 3rd, 4th and 5th seed squaring off in the first match. The winner of the first match will meet the second-seed over the second match.

Winner of the second match will then face the top seed over twice to beat title match to decide the champion.

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Kuwaiti cracks top bracket

14th December, Riyadh

Khaled Al Dubyyan of Kuwait topped the second optional squad with 1421 to crack into the top bracket of the qualifying leaderboard of the 7th Kingdom International Open in third position.

Mohamed Al Masri led the final qualifying squad for the first two games with 222 and 223 followed by Hassan Oraif of Saudi Arabia and Khaled Al Dubyyan sharing second spot, 15 pins behind.

Khaled, who rolled 209 and 235 in his first two games, posted 237 in the third game to move into the lead as Al Masri slipped into second, just 4 pins adrift.

The 27-year-old Kuwaiti added 237 and 247 in his next two games and needed only 218 or more to overtake Filipino Anthony Balabbo for third in the overall standings. Khaled downed a superb 255 in the final game to end the block with 1421.

border Khaled Al Dubyyan topping the final squad

His total of 2797 was enough to earn him a bye for the Final round in third. Tim Mack of USA retained pole position with 2896 followed by perfect gamer, Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong in second with 2844.

Bader Al Sheikh claimed the fourth position reserved for the top Saudi while Balabbo had to settle for fifth position with 2760. Day 1 high series winner and newly-crowned Qatar Bowling Open champion, Dominic Barrett of England finished sixth with 2757.

Day 3 high series winner, Josh Blanchard of USA took seventh position with 2751 ahead of Thomas Larsen of Denmark, Mohamed Al Masri and American PBA pro, Tommy Jones completing the top 10.

Hassan Oraif, who finished second to Khaled in the Optional Squad 2, was the second best Saudi in the field in 11th. Wicky Yeung of Hong Kong shot 1318 in the same squad to make the cut in 28th position with 2593.

His team-mate, Michael Tsang missed the cut in 33rd position just six pins adrift. Abdulla Al Dolijan, Yasser Abu Reesh, Adel Al Bargi and Moeed Al Qahtani were the four highest Saudis to occupy positions 29th to 32nd.

border Wicky Yeung sqeezing into the semi-finals in 28th position

Four-time PBA Bowler of the Year and recent first runner-up of the Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour also missed the cut in 34th position.

Qualifiers positioned 5 to 28 plus the four Saudis (28 bowlers) will bowl 8 games in the Semi-finals Round tomorrow at 12.00 noon. The top 11 plus the top Saudi will join the four seeded qualifiers for another 8 games in the Final Round on December 16.

The top 5 at the end of the Final Round will advance to the Stepladder Shootout finals. The champion will win the top prize of US$25,000.

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American goes top of leaderboard

14th December, Riyadh

Squad B leader, Tim Mack of United States notched up an improved series of 1435 in the optional squad 1 of the 7th Kingdom International Open to leapfrog into top spot of the leaderboard.

The three-time WBW World Bowler of the Year was knocked out of the top bracket after Hong Kong's Wu Siu Hong, England's Dominic Barrett and Denmark's Thomas Larsen moved up to take the top 3 spots after the second block late last night.

Mack, who shot a stunning 1461 on opening day, managed only 1265 in his second block to slip out of the top bracket. But the 42-year-old American was in a better condition after his slight back pain yesterday to roll another splendid 1435 in the optional squad for a total of 2896.

Wu settled for second position with 2844 while Anthony Balabbo of the Philippines cracked into the top 3 after finishing second to Mack in the same optional squad with 1339 and a total of 2760.

border Tim Mack moving back up into top spot

Although Mohamed Al Masri of Jordan and Hassan Oraif of Saudi Arabia averaged higher than Balabbo, they will be trying to maintain their average in the second optional squad.

Day 1 leader and second overall last night, Dominic Barrett of England was the most unlucky of all after being pushed out of the top bracket with 2757. Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour champion, Thomas Larsen of Denmark was also pushed out of third.

Josh Blanchard of USA made the biggest move with the optional squad after he knocked down the highst 6-games series of 1453 thus far. His new 12-game total of 2751 took him from 27th position to ninth based on average.

Other big movers were Mohamed Al Najrani of Saudi Arabia up to 15th with 2685 and Basel Al Anzi of Kuwait up to 18th with 2657. Miguel Lopez of USA also made improvements with 1346 and stands a chance of making the cut.

Twenty-four bowled in the first optional squad while thirty-four will take to the lanes at 6.30pm for the second optional squad. The combined scores will determine the finalists.

border Josh Blanchard hoping to pick Day 3 high series worth US$1,000

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Hong Kong national snatches pole

13th December, Riyadh

Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong rolled the tournament's first 300 in the final game of the second block to snatch pole position in both Squad A and overall standings of the 7th Kingdom International Open.

Overnight leader, Dominic Barrett of England saw his lead of 95 pins being narrowed by his nearest opponent, Wu Siu Hong to just 5 pins after he started off the second block poorly with 203, 201 and 225.

Wu downed 239, 232 and 248 to inch closer to the Brit while top Saudi, Bader Al Sheikh remained in third. Wu failed to capitalize when he managed only 171 as Barrett regained a decent margin of 59 pins after he posted 225 in the fourth game.

The Hong Kong national bounced back with a superb 245 to surge ahead of Barrett after the fifth game and then fired the tournament's first 300 in the final game to snatch pole position with 2844.

border Wu Siu Hong rolling a perfect game to snatch pole

Wu's 1437 six-games series also bettered Filipino Anthony Balabbo's 1421 posted in the earlier Squad B to win the Day 2 high series prize of US$1,000. He also stand a chance to pick up the perfect game prize worth another US$1,000.

Barrett ended the block with 221 for a lowly 1255 series but his 12-game total of 2757 was good enough for second. Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour champion, Thomas Larsen of Denmark shot back-to-back 266 and 268 to clinch third spot with 2730.

Squad B leader, Tim Mack of United States slipped down to fifth with 2730 he shot earlier while Bader Al Sheikh, who finished sixth with 2726, will most likely claimed the fourth spot reserved for top Saudi.

Mohamed Al Masri of Jordan settled for seventh position with 2713 ahead of American PBA pro, Tommy Jones and Bill O'Neill in eighth and ninth positions with 2711 and 2680 respectively.

border Top 3 qualifiers, Larsen, Wu and Barrett

Defending champion, Martin Larsen of Sweden rounded out the top 10 with 2644. Josh Blanchard of USA and Salman Al Shehri of Saudi Arabia tied 27th and 28th position with 2508. Twenty bowlers have registered for the Optional Squad 1 and forty for Optional Squad 2 which will be staged at 1.30pm and 6.00pm tomorrow for them to improve their lower six-games series in an attempt to make the cut for the Semi-Final round on December 15.

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Squad B leader retains pole

13th December, Riyadh

Squad B leader, Tim Mack of United States retained his lead after completing Block 2 qualifying round of the 7th Kingdom International Open but may drop out of the top bracket with a lower second series.

Mack started off well with 233 in his seventh game but found the next pair of lanes a bit tricky managing a lowly 185. The three-time WBW Bowler of the Year recovered with 223 and 219 in his next two games to stay 47 pins ahead of Jordan's Mohamed Al Masri in second.

Meanwhile, ABF Tour UAE first runner-up, Anthony Balabbo of the Philippines, who had a poor first block of 1202, rolled a superb 717 in his first three games to leapfrog into fourth, behind fellow compatriot, Ernee Noto in third.

While Mack struggled slightly to repeat the form he showed yesterday, the 42-year-old managed to end the block with 1265 for a 12-game total of 2726 to remain in pole.

border Tim Mack retaining the lead despite a lower second block

Mohamed also retained his second spot with 2713 cutting down the gap of 71 pins to just 13 pins. Noto took third spot with 2642 followed by Balabbo in fourth with 2623. Balabbo also rolled the highest 6-game block of 1421.

Based on average, Dominic Barrett of England remained in the lead in the overall standings with 250.33 average followed by Hong Kong's Wu Siu Hong in second with 234.50 while Tommy Jones of United States moved up to third with 229.33.

Mack dropped down out of the top bracket to head the second bracket in fifth position with 227.17 while Mohamed Al Masri rounded out the top 6 with 226.08 average.

The cut in 28th position went to Filipino, Stephen Ajera with 207.67 average or 92 pins over. Jau Urbano of Philippines missed the cut with 207.00 average.

border Anthony Balabbo rolling the highest 6-game series of 1421

Squad A, which comprised of all the Amercian PBA pros and top Europeans including defending champion, Martin Larsen of Sweden and Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour champion, Thomas Larsen will contest their second block later today.

Bowlers who failed to make the cut will have a chance by bowling in the optional squad in a hope to replace their lower 6-games block. Although there are two optional squads, players are only allowed to register for one of them.

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Trio stamps their mark

12th December, Riyadh

Tim Mack of United States topped the second squad of the first block qualifying rounds of the 7th Kingdom International Open to move into second spot in the overall standings.

The 42-year-old winner of more than 70 international titles in his illustrious bowling career surged into a blistering pace by rolling three back-to-back 260s to take a comanding lead of 111 pins at the halfway mark.

Mohamed Al Masri of Jordan trailed Mack at the begining of the block but slipped down to third after the second game before rallying on to reclaim second spot.

The American completed the first block with 228, 208 and 221 for a total of 1461, well ahead of his nearest opponent by 71 pins. Mohamed Al Masri claimed second spot with 1390 while top Saudi, Salman Al Shehri finished third with 1333.

border Tim Mack topping the second squad with 1461

"Since my back is hurting so much, I just couldn't bend that much and I only rolled the ball instead of my usual style," said Tim Mack.

"I had to go for a specialist to give me a good rub earlier in the day and had to pull out of the first squad and bowled in the second squad. I almost wanted to pull out all together but I'm glad I didn't.

"It's great to finished this high in the table and I'm hopeful to make the top bracket so that I can have an extra day off to allow my back to get better."

Ernee Noto of the Philippines took fourth with 1320 while Abdulrahman Al Burhani of India, who was second briefly, rounded out the top 5 with 1269.

Squad A leader and newly-crowned 13th Qatar Bowling Open champion, Dominic Barrett of England remained in the pole position in the overall standings with 1502, 41 pins ahead of Mack in second.

Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour second runner-up, Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong took third spot with 1407 making up only three qualifiers to surpass the 1400-mark.

border Mohamed Al Masri taking up second spot in the squad

The fourth position is reserved for the top Saudi to earn a bye into the Final round. Mohamed Al Masri headed the second bracket in fifth followed by PBA pro and two-time DHC-IBC winner, Tommy Jones of United States in sixth position with 1376. The top Saudi was Bader Al Sheikh in seventh spot with 1347.

Osku Palermaa of Finland, Thomas Larsen of Denmark and Salman Al Shehri of Saudi Arabia completed the top 10 with 1342, 1337 and 1333 respectively.

The current cut at 28th position went to Ahmed Al Haydan of Saudi Arabia with 1237 or averaging 206.17 while Mohammad Al Zaidan of Kuwait is off the cut in 33rd position. Positions 29 to 32 are reserved for the top 4 Saudis outside the second bracket.

Squad B will resume with their second block tomorrow at 2.00pm local time and Squad A at 6.30pm. Two special squads of six games each will be staged on December 14 for bowlers who wish to improve their lower 6-game block in an attempt to make the cut.

The combined overall standings after the special squads will determine the qualifiers for both the Semi-Final and Final rounds.

border Wu Siu Hong making up the top 3 of the top bracket

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Brit on a hot streak

12th December, Riyadh

Newly-crowned Qatar Bowling Open champion, Dominic Barrett is on a hot streak as the Brit took a commanding lead in the opening squad of the 7th Kingdom International Open underway at Universal Bowling Centre on Thursday.

Barrett got off the block with a cracking 268 in the opening game, 17 pins ahead of Osku Palermaa of Finland in second and Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour second runner-up, Wu Siu Hong of Hong Kong in third.

The leader opened up his gap to 53 pins after another stunning 265 while 2006 Doha Asian Games Doubles gold medalist, Bader Al Sheikh of Saudi Arabia moving up to second as PBA pro, Bill O'Neill took over third spot.

Despite dropping off his pace in the third game with 217, Barrett bounced back with 237, 247 and closing out the block with a second 268 in the sixth game for a total of 1502.

border Dominic Barrett topping the opening

"We're fortunate enough to have the people here from Universal Bowling Centre taking good care of the lanes to give us a competitive condition to compete in," said Barrett, who also won the European Bowling Tour for the third time after his victory in Doha two days ago.

"This is a good start and hopefully I can continue to do well in the second block. There are a lot of good bowlers competing this year and it's not going to be easy."

Wu settled for second with 1407 while Jones took third spot with 1376. Bader, who has just graduated from Brisbane, Australia majoring in international management and back in bowling, was the strongest Saudi finishing fourth with 1347.

Palermaa was placed fifth with 1342 while Abu Dhabi World Bowling Tour champion, Thomas Larsen of Denmark, who was second at one stage, ended in sixth position with 1337.

border Top American, Tommy Jones finishing third in the squad

American pro, Tom Hess, Hong Kong's Michael Tsang, Bill O'Neill of USA and defending champion, Martin Larsen of Sweden all recorded 1300 series to round out the top 10.

The remaining 43 bowlers from Squad B will take to the lanes for their first block later today. Both the squads will complete their second block tomorrow. The top 3 plus the top Saudi will earn a bye for the Final round.

Qualifiers positioned 5 to 28 plus another four Saudi will contest the Semi-Final round over 8 games. The top 11 finishers plus the best Saudi will join the 4 seeded qualifiers from another 8 games in the Final round.

The top 5 at the end of the Final round will advance to the stepladder finals. Third, fourth and fifth seeds will bowl in the first match. The winner will meet the second seed in the secomd match.

border Top Saudi finisher in the squad, Bader Al Sheikh

Winner of the second match will then face off with the top seed in a twice to beat title match. The champion will earn US$25,000 with US$12,000 going to the first runner-up and US$7,000 to the second runner-up.

The 7th Kingdom International Open is also the third stop of the 2014 PBA-World Bowling Tour where bowlers will earn ranking points towards the Grand Finals.