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Donny Bartlett emerges as the first two-time champion in Prove It Challenge

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When the finalists squared off in the title game of last Sunday's (April 27) Prove It Scratch Challenge tournament at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes, it was a certainty that the series would have its first two-time champion.

After the starting field of 34 bowlers was pared to the final two, the survivors were February's champion, Donny Bartlett of Sarasota, and March's winner, John Thompson, also of Sarasota.

Heading into the title showdown, Thompson had a 10-pin advantage, but with 30 "bonus pins" awarded for each match-play win, any margin of victory would provide a first-place finish for either player.

In the decisive finale, Bartlett opened an early advantage when Thompson suffered a pair of splits, and Bartlett strung five strikes in a row, starting in the sixth frame, to pull away for a 237-179 win and the $540 top prie.

Thompson settled for the runner-up check of $270, while rounding out the list of cashers, in order, were David Shedrow of Parrish, Milan Guerrero of Tampa, David Stouffer of Fort Myers, Richard McLaughlin Jr. of Sarasota, Michael Creasey of Bradenton, and Larry Barwick of Wauchula.

Tournament scoring levels were much higher this time

"The (39-foot Chameleon) pattern played easier than most of the patterns we've used," said tournament director Chuck Souzer, and the scoring levels supported that assertion.

In the March event, Ronnie Hayes of Bradenton was top qualifier with a five-game score of 991, while the cut score was 924. By contrast, Thompson was top qualifier this time around with 1,110, with Bartlett next at 1,074. Other qualifying scores were: Shedrow 1,040, Guerrero 1,028, Creasey 1,022, McLaughlin 1,017, Stouffer 1,004 and Barwick 980.

After the first cut to match play, Thompson defeated Barwick 215-199, Guerrero downed Creasey 187-168, Shedrow nipped McLaughlin 193-192, and Bartlett and Stouffer battled to a 202-202 deadlock.

With the field cut to four, Bartlett eliminated Shedrow 208-179, while Thompson and Guerrero tied at 169-169, but with the net pinfall advantage, Thompson moved on to the title game.

The next in the tournament series will be contested at AMF Venice Lanes on Sunday, May 18, and Souzer plans to use a 41-foot Scorpion pattern. For complete information on the Prove It Challenges, you can visit the Web site by clicking here.

You may subscribe to Bill Herald's Examiner.com bowling articles -- free of charge -- by clicking on "subscribe" near the top of the column, after which you will receive e-mail notification each time a new item is published.]

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