A new champion, the tenth different winner in the tournament's eleven years, was crowned Sunday at Tenpins & More. Craig Nidiffer from the Detroit area of Michigan, caught two early breaks in his match against top seed, Brett Wolfe of Phoenix to beat the 2010 runner-up, 276-237 on the newly-installed Qubica/AMF synthetic lanes. Wolfe hit the pocket twelve times, striking seven, but leaving two stone-cold 8 pin leaves, a ringing 7 pin and another ice-cold 8 pin in the first six frames before getting a five-bagger, 9 to finish the game. By then it was too late, as Nidiffer, encouraged by his good fortune (first frame brooklyn and nose-hit carry of the 6-10 to give him an opening four-bagger), fired a solid six straight strikes in frames six through eleven to close out the championship match and claim the $10,000 first prize.
Wolfe was pleased he bowled so well in the final, after losing to Andrew Cain a few years ago with only 170. He received $5,500 as runner-up. For Nidiffer, the win was seemingly meant to be. In the semi-final, after opening with a perfect five-bagger, he lost his way against Tyler Jensen, leaving two unconverted designer splits and making a scary four-count spare.
"I got lucky. I got really lucky", he told "Albuquerque Journal" reporter, Glen Rosales. Jensen, sensing victory, left and whiffed by a 10-pin in the ninth then needing to go off the sheet to force Nidiffer to strike, left another single pin to lose 195-204.
In earlier step-ladder matches, PBA champion, Mike Fagan of Hurst, Texas beat fellow Texan, Geoffrey Young of Keller 227-218, striking in three of the last four shots. Young, last year's runner-up to champion, Nathan Bohr, won $ 1,750 in fifth place. Jensen then eliminated Fagan 246-224 in a match that also could have gone either way. Fagan received $2,000 for fourth place, while Jensen got $2,750 after losing to Nidiffer.
The big mover on the last day was Bryanna Caldwell of Tucson, Arizona, who moved from 36th to sixth, before losing the position round match 209-212 to Fagan. She posted 960/4 in the morning's semi-final round then averaged 217 going 7-5 in match-play against the strongest finals field yet.
The tournament was a record-breaker in many ways, attracting 217 bowlers from Australia, Latvia and 18 states, record side tournament entries of more than 430 and record prize-money of more than $ 73,000, including $ 54,465 in the Main Event.
Eric Forkel, who broke his back in 2000, was chosen by Mike Miller and Dana Miller-Mackie as the first recipient of the new "Dee Miller Memorial Courage Award" trophy in honor of the Miller family trail-blazer who passed away in March.
Match 1: Fagan d Young 227-218
Match 2: Jensen d Fagan 246-224
Match 3: Nidiffer d Jensen 204-195
Final: Nidiffer d Wolfe 276-237
Placings prior to championship round: