Nathan Brimmer, Stephanie Said claim Gold Cup Open honours

Thursday, May 26, 2011, 14:32

The 2011 edition of the annual and very popular Open Gold Cup Tournament has been organized by the MTBA at the Eden SuperBowl, where a total of 31 bowlers competed in separate male and female divisions. The application of and individual handicapping system makes the Gold Cup the most attractive event in the local bowling calendar, as bowlers of all levels can seriously compete for the top prize, which is a trip abroad to participate in an international ‘Open’ tournament of their choice.

The tournament format began with a sixteen game qualifying round, from which the top six male and female bowlers would go through to the next stage. Round two was to be a Round Robin event incorporating extra bonuses for match wins or draws, and would be followed by the always exciting stepladder finals, battled out between the top three bowlers in each division after round two.

Thrills and spills in men’s qualification

There was a lot of jostling for position during the two 8-game sessions that made up the first round, as the day one lead switched between Mauro Anastasi and Mark Muscat as the games rolled on, with several other challengers dropping in and out of the picture along the way. After eight however the top spot was occupied by Anastasi who has only recently returned to the bowling arena, with a total 1761 (220.1 ave) ahead of Muscat in second on 1693. Peter Mallia followed closely with 1680 in third, with Nathan Brimmer in fourth place on 1665.

Day two saw more big changes at the top, most surprisingly for Anastasi, seemed to have lost most of his day one form, and slipped to seventh place on 3216 (201 ave) and out of the running. The top male qualifier was Mark Muscat on 3376 (211 ave), followed by Nathan Brimmer on 3361 and Peter Mallia on 3339. The top three would be joined in the Round Robin by Philip Gruppetta, Matthew Cossai and Ryan Grech from fourth to sixth respectively.

Mark Muscat managed to retain his top placing throughout the Round Robin stage, winning three from the five games for some valuable bonus points to bolster his tally, and assure himself of a place in the final. Peter Mallia won two from five, and scored well to advance to second place, ahead of Nathan Brimmer who made it to the semis in third place, a mere five pins ahead of Philip Gruppetta in fourth place (4305 – 4300).

The one match semi-final between Mallia and Brimmer was an extremely tight affair, with the latter just nicking it by a mere three pins (213 – 216). That meant that Nathan moved on to play the men’s final against Mark Muscat, who as the top seed only needed to win one game to claim the title, while underdog Brimmer would have to take two games. In fact he managed to take the first game with a good 230 effort against a poor 169 from Muscat to force the deciding second game. Brimmer was full of confidence by that stage, winning it with an even better 237 – 203 game score for the tournament.

Changes at the top for the ladies too

Like the men’s event, the ladies’ competition also saw various changes at the top of the classification, with a different leader gracing first place at the end of all tournament stages. After the eight initial games it was Marthese Cossai who held the field, her 20 pins handicap boosting her score to a 1497 interim total, ahead of Melissa Swift in second on 1480 with Josephine Bonello and Pam Demanuele hot on their heels in third and fourth on 1478 and 1457 respectively.

In the second session, of those four bowlers only Josephine Bonello retained her top four spot, still in second place on 2968, while the new leader was Maryanne Mula with a 2994 tally, her day two performance having lifted her all the way up from her previous sixth place. Stephanie Said also had a better day and went through to the ladies’ Round Robin in third on 2694, with the remaining three qualifiers being Melissa Swift, Marthese Cossai and Josephine Borg.

Stage two saw top seed Mula again drop down to sixth after an unfortunate five game set, while youngster Stephanie Said pulled off an excellent five wins from five, to ascend to the top spot and book a spot in the ladies’ final. Joining her would be rising star Melissa Swift, and relative veteran Josephine Borg in second and third place.

In the semi-final match, Josephine Borg showed that experience counts as she stepped up to easily qualify for the final with an easy 222 – 168 victory over Melissa Swift, and so would play Stephanie Said for the championship title. That proved to be a much better match, but it was Said who proved the more worthy, winning with just one game required, 226 – 201 the final score to hand her the glory.

The new Gold Cup Champions will now have the luxury of deciding which of the numerous international open championship tournaments they would like to compete in, thanks to the all-expenses paid trips they have earned as their prizes, courtesy of the Malta Tenpin Bowling Association.

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