Joe Heinke of Tampa edged Larry Barwick of Wauchula for the first-place prize of $650 in the first Prove It Scratch Challenge tournament of 2014, conducted last Sunday (Jan. 26) at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes.
The ninth in a series of Prove It events drew 45 entrants, and there has yet to be a two-time champion. Tournament director Chuck Souzer has announced that the next Prove It will be conducted on Saturday, Feb. 22, at AMF Gulf Gate.
Heinke trailed Barwick by 38 pins into the eighth and last game, and when he rolled a 201 in the three-player match-game final, he emerged with a net score of 1,672 -- including 30 "bonus pins" for the victory -- while Barwick, who rolled 184, settled for the runner-up total of 1,663 and a $325 payday. Third-place Dave Grether of Sarasota finished with a net pinfall of 1,606.
Chris Keene of Tampa and Steve Albritton of Sarasota rounded out the top five, while the remainder of the cashers, in order, were Saul Insignares of Sarasota, Jon Rakoski of Estero, Carl Sawyer of Sarasota, James McCleland of Venice, Dennis Beagle of Fort Myers, and Bob Pazur of Venice.
The tournament was conducted on a grind-out scoring condition, as evidenced by the fact that only four players finished the five-game qualifying round with scores above 1,000, and the cut score to match play was only 913 (a 182.6 average).
"The lanes started out playing tough, and it never seemed to get easier for most bowlers, as indicated by the scores," Souzer said. "The key was to make spares, keep the ball in play and not make too many wild mistakes."
With the help of a tournament-high 267 game, Grether was high qualifier with a score of 1,041, while next in line were Keene (1,033), Barwick (1,032) and Rakoski (1,008).
In the first game of the match-play segment, the individual winners were Heinke, Albritton, Sawyer, Barwick and Insignares. And in the subsequent game, Heinke defeated Albritton 195-174, Barwick beat Insignares 192-162, and Grether shaded Keene 207-201.
Previous Prove It winners were Jesse Hawver of Sarasota (November), Daniel Gassera of Port Charlotte (October), Insignares (September), McCleland (August), David Shedrow of Parrish (July), Rakoski (June), Aaron Albritton of Sarasota (May) and Beagle (April).
"Because of other area tourneys on the last Sunday of the month, I'm moving the next one from Sunday to Saturday (Feb. 22)," Souzer said. "I plan to use a 35-foot (lane dressing) pattern in February, and the graph will be posted on the Web site in advance of the tournament."
Entry fee will remain at $55, and optional brackets ($5) and Nassaus ($10) will be available. Check-in will be from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and practice will start at 1:15 p.m.
[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.]