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John Thompson survives challenging conditions to win Prove It Challenge

John Thompson won the March edition of the Prove It Challenge at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes.
John Thompson won the March edition of the Prove It Challenge at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes.Chuck Souzer

John Thompson of Sarasota averaged exactly 200 for eight games, but his scores enabled him to defeat a field of 33 bowlers in Sunday's (March 23) Prove It Challenge Scratch tournament at AMF Gulf Gate Lanes.

In the lowest-scoring Prove It event since the series began in April 2013, Thompson dominated the decisive final game with a 204-161 verdict over Saul Insignares of Sarasota that earned him the first-place prize of $530.

"The pattern played extremely difficult, as the scores showed," said tournament director Chuck Souzer. "Even our best-quality players were humbled by the (Mark Roth 46-foot) pattern during the day."

To claim that the players struggled to master the challenging conditions is an understatement.

Ronnie Hayes of Bradenton topped the five-game qualifying round with a 991 pinfall (a 198.2 average), but he was promptly eliminated when he lost 210-128 to Chris Keane of Tampa in the first round of match play.

Insignares was runner-up to Hayes in the qualifying session with 965, while Bob Pazur of Venice was third with 958. Thompson was fourth at 956 and Harry Wright of Venice rounded out the top five at 955, while others advancing to match play were David Stouffer of Fort Myers (949), Richard McLaughlin of Sarasota (924) and Keane (924).

In the other three first-round matches, Insignares topped McLaughlin 168-155, Stouffer beat Pazur 212-192, and Thompson routed Wright 246-171. In the matches involving the final four, Insignares defeated Thompson 202-194, and Keane got past Stouffer 187-179.

Heading into the decisive final game, Thompson had a net pinfall of 1,426 -- including 30 "bonue pins" for his match-play win -- while Insignares totaled 1,395, meaning that Insignares needed to win the game by two or more pins to take the title. But after Thompson opened with three straight strikes and Insignares began with a pair of splits, the match was never close.

Ironically, Thompson credits Insignares, in part, for a recent streak of red-hot bowling. "I had Saul (Insignares) drill some new equipment because my other stuff had died," Thompson said.

"And bowling Sport-shot tourneys has helped, because you get feedback on bad shots that you don't get on house shots."

Thompson has certainly been on a roll of late. He has already blasted four USBC-certified perfect games this season, and just last week, he pounded out a 784 series that included games of 280 and 269 at AMF Gulf Gate.

The next in the tournament series is scheduled for Sunday, April 27, at AMF Gulf Gate, and Souzer plans to utilize the 39-foot PBA Chameleon lane condition pattern.

Entry fee will be $55, and check-in will be from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., with practice beginning at 1:15 p.m. To view complete information about the tournament series, you may view the Prove It Web site by clicking here.

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