Bowling News USA - April 29, 2013 "The Real Deal" Bill O'Neill Wins IB Open Title in St. Louis
(Champion Bill O'Neill with InsideBowling.com's Mike Flanagan and Storm's Director of Marketing Roger Noordhoek)
Four-time PBA Champion Bill O’Neill from Langhorne, PA. was crowned as the 2013 Storm InsideBowling.com Open Champion on Sunday evening at Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis, Mo.
O’Neill defeated a hard-charging Craig Nidiffer, from Trenton, MI, 190-180 in a title match that ended up being a true snapshot of the tournament. The IB Open used a demanding oil pattern developed especially for this tournament, which rewarded shot-making ability and imposed harsh penalties for mistakes.
The first match of the evening showcased 5th place Adam Barta, Girard, OH, against 4th qualifier Rob Gotchall, from Lincoln, NE. Not two hours before, Barta had thrown three clutch strikes in the 10th frame of the last game of match-play just to squeak into the Top 5 by only six pins over Justin Veitch. Add into the mix that only a week before, Gotchall and Barta were USBC Open Doubles partners, and threatened the lead in this year’s tournament in Reno, NV. Now they were opponents.
The lead in this game changed hands a few times in the opening frames, but Adam Barta doubled in the sixth and seventh frames, and seemed to have the match under control. Then, as it had all weekend, the pattern came into play and Barta opened in the 9th. Gotchall made a great shot in the 9th, leaving a stone 9-pin, but took advantage of Barta’s open and struck on the first two shots in the 10th, enough to shut out his friend. Final Score 223-208.
Gotchall went on to face Nidiffer, who qualified 3rd, dropping one spot in the position round of the 16 match-play games. He traded spares and strikes in first five frames, while Nidiffer did a fair amount of striking early on. Rob’s fate came at the hands of 3-4-6-7-9-10 leave in the seventh, and the resulting open. With no pressure, Nidiffer continued striking, and defeated Gotchall 250-196.
No tournament ever quite feels the same without some hometown flavor in it, and that’s what Raytown, MO’s Brad Miller brought to the table. A former Collegiate All-American, Miller bowled for Lindenwood University in St. Charles, only minutes away from Tropicana Lanes. Thus, of course he had many local fans in attendance for the stepladder finals.
The match between Miller and Nidiffer was puzzling, as noted by the commentators. Brad was making shot after shot in the pocket, with nothing to show for it early on, while the hot-handed Nidiffer appeared to be lost on the pair. One of his shots even crossed over onto the Brooklyn side, a difficult thing to do on the voluminous oil pattern. However, as far apart as the two competitors seemed to find the lanes, they were tied after five frames. Miller’s luck ran out on a questionable hit leaving the 5-10 split, and after making a few adjustments, Craig found a new way to attack the pocket in the 6th and 7th frames. He stayed clean the rest of the game, and to the dismay of the locals, Miller was defeated 205-186.
In the final match, the heavily-favored O’Neill started slowly with spares in the first two frames,
followed by a 2-8-10 in the 3rd. At the same time, Nidiffer was showing people he was serious about
winning this title, putting up an early double in the same frames. A “big-four” split in the 5th slowed him
down, while O’Neill used his experience and made some quick adjustments, staying clean. The bowlers
were ten pins apart in the fifth, with Nidiffer in the lead. He struck in the 6th, but O’Neill answered with
a double in the 6th and 7th, his first of the game. The turning point of the match came in the very next
frame, when Craig left a 10-pin, and missed it, putting him in a nine-pin deficit situation. Neither bowler
was able to double for the remainder of the game, and O’Neill held on to win, 190-180.
O’Neill won the Lion’s share of the $50,000 Prize Fund, taking home a cool $8,000, the largest First Place
payout in the history of the Storm InsideBowling.com Open. Craig Nidiffer probably wasn’t happy to lose the
final match, but the $4,000 he received for a runner-up finish helped assuage his disappointment. Miller
received $2,500 for third, Gotchall $2,000 for fourth, and Barta a check for $1,500 for fifth.
Fifty-six bowlers cashed in the tournament, with a 215 average for the eight games good enough for the
last cash spot of $500.
InsideBowling.com owes a huge thanks to this year’s sponsors, Storm Bowling Products and Budweiser,
who obviously recognize the value in promoting the sport and the people who are serious competitors
Full standings can be found below this article.
All coverage will be archived on InsideBowling.com's YouTube channel.
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