The 78th Sandhills Matchgames, recently held at Hollywood Bowl, gave 162 bowlers a glimpse at the softer side of the tournament.
During five games of qualifying, Branden Bowlby and Rick Miller both averaged 221 to lead the qualifying. Scores this high are unusual in the Sandhills, as this tournament is about consistency, with an average of 205 making the finals and 187 cashing.
The 10 finalists returning for the finals were looking for a high-scoring competition. But as always, the Sandhills won and the bowlers struggled. Brady Hoefer, with a 200 average, was the only bowler to average over 200 (finishing second). Only 30 of the final 100 games exceeded 200. The key was to keep the ball in play and leave make-able spares. Generally that means leaving either one or two pins.
In the final game, Hoefer led Rick Miller by 14 pins. The championship was decided in the 10th frame with Miller striking in the ninth and 10th to take the lead, giving Hoefer a chance to double in the 10th for the win. Hoefer's first ball in the 10th went through the nose and left a 4-6-7 split, giving Miller his record-tying seventh win in the Sandhills (tying him with Tony Manna), bringing him a $1,200 payday.
Miller found it even sweeter with the record-tying win coming in Lincoln. He couldn’t remember ever having to come from behind to win a tournament before. Having a hard time hitting the pocket in the final game and going Brooklyn for a strike in the ninth, Miller moved five boards left in the 10th for a pocket strike, bringing him the championship.
Miller said this was one of his most difficult championships based on not being able to play the same line as in the qualifying. After playing third arrow in the qualifying, he eventually ended up moving left and slowing his ball speed to finally find a shot. He had one 200 game in the first six games and closed out with 200s in the final four games, averaging 198 for the finals.
The only other Lincoln bowler to make the finals was Jeff White, earning $300 for sixth place.
Other cashers from Lincoln were: Brandon Kaup (15th-$195), Mark Porter (16th-$185), Don Flynn Jr. (tied 18th-$167.50), Scott Foreman (20th-$160), Ben Vanness (22nd-$145), David Schilke (24th-$130), Mike Cigelman (25th-$120), Stephanie Bonebright (27th-$115), Amanda Van Duyn (28th-$110), Matthew Brauch (31st-$105), Nick Procacina (35th-$100), Kaleena Henning (38th-$95), Tyler Punteney (39th-$90), Todd Howard (40th-$80), Chad Rosenau (41st-$75), John Losito and Brian Schilke (tied 42nd-$60).
2018 Open Championship Results
The 2018 Open Championships concluded at Parkway Lanes, with Doubles and Singles at Hollywood Bowl. The following bowlers won city championships:
Team-Handicap—A.V. Club-3603 (Mark Holmes, David Vifquain, Duane Holmes, Tracy Rocole, Chris Holmes.
Team-Scratch—8 Balls 1 split-3503 (Dave Leuty, Stephanie Bonebright, David Schilke, Rob Stevens, Chad Rosenau)
Classic Division All Events—Jeff White 2195
Classic Division Singles-Handicap—Seth Hampton 824
Classic Division Singles-Scratch—Jeff White 803
Classic Division Doubles-Handicap—Jory Ford and Monte Nielsen 1517
Classic Division Doubles–Scratch—Mark Porter and Rick Miller 1497
Regular Division All Events—Tom Vifquain 1940
Regular Division Singles-Handicap—Keil Wilson 731
Regular Division Singles-Scratch—Marti Krings 702
Regular Division Doubles-Handicap & Scratch—Allen & Terry Christensen (Husband & Wife) 1360-1312