Four bowlers from St. Petersburg and a female from Broward County nailed down the first five positions in last Sunday’s (Nov. 23) Prove It Challenge scratch tournament at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes in Sarasota.
Brandon Hott of St. Petersburg emerged with the top prize of $470 in the 25-player field, while Cory Misura of St. Petersburg was runner-up, and Taylor Bulthuis of Coral Springs, who became the first female to make the Prove It finals, finished third.
“I’m surprised that the (37-foot PBA Viper) pattern yielded the scores it did,” said tournament director Chuck Souzer, “but it turned out to be the highest-scoring tournament since the Challenge was started (in April 2013).”
Indeed, the composite average of the six match-play qualifiers was 217, and finishing in the fourth through sixth positions were Matthew Mayhugh and defending champion Shaun Goucher, both of St. Petersburg, and Kevin O’Neill of Bradenton.
Following the five-game qualifying round, Hott set the pace with a pinfall of 1,128, while Misura had 1,112 and Bulthuis totaled 1,100. Also making the cut to match play were Mayhugh (1,067), Goucher (1,065) and O’Neill (1,042).
In the head-to-head Game 6, Hott routed O’Neill 243-195, Misura defeated Goucher 217-202, and Bulthuis outlasted Mayhugh 244-234. And heading into the three-player finale, Hott had a net score of 1,401 — including 30 “bonus pins” for his match-play win — while Bulthuis had 1,374 and Misura 1,359.
As the decisive title game got under way, Bulthuis took early advantage with four consecutive strikes, while Hott suffered a first-frame open with a 2-10 split and Misura stayed clean but failed to double over the first five frames.
Bulthuis had a crucial open frame in the ninth when she failed to convert a 2-8 spare combination en route to a score of 213, while Misura bolted into contention with strikes in the 6th, 7th and 8th and three in the tenth to finish with 228. Hott entered the final frame with three straight strikes, and he clinched the championship with a strike on his first delivery in the tenth, helping him to a score of 220, and the 30 “bonus pins” proved decisive.
Because of the Christmas holiday season, the November event was the final Prove It Challenge for 2014, and Souzer has announced that his next tournament will be on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes. That tourney will introduce a stepladder finals in an attempt to increase the number of entries.
In all, Prove It payouts have totaled $14,320 for the year, and the top three on the earnings list are Donny Bartlett of Sarasota ($2,190), John Thompson of Sarasota ($1,300) and Joe Heinke of Tampa ($730). For complete information on the Prove It Challenges — including past results, rules and videos of the title matches — you may visit the tournament Web site by clicking here.
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