For the fourth straight round, the Greater Baltimore Open has a new leader on the board.
Eric Forkel won six times in eight tries in match play at Country Club Lanes last night, assuming the lead after his seventh game. He had started the day in 22nd place, three spots removed from possible elimination from the field of 24 finalists.
Mark Williams, who used the second 300 game of the tournament (Jimmy Johnson, a non-qualifier, had the other) to take the third-round lead, finished the day in second place with 6,000 pins, 41 behind Forkel.
Doug Kent, who led after the first 12 games, dropped out of contention, falling to 23rd. Dave D'Entremont, the leader after the first six-game block, fell to 16th.
Under conditions he liked, Forkel averaged 239 in eight games of match play, earning 180 bonus points -- 30 for each win -- in the process. Included were games of 277 and 259.
The latter resulted in a loss as Dennis Horan rolled a 278 to jump into third place with a count of 5,994. "But I don't feel bad about shooting a 250 and losing, because I'm still getting the pins," said Forkel.
Forkel said the "medium-range scoring conditions" for the Professional Bowlers Association's first stop in Baltimore in three years worked to his benefit. "I like that environment," he said.
"I was on the second squad [for the final six qualifying games] and I knew the lanes would be calmed down. I had the right ball drilled and I felt like I threw better than I did yesterday [Wednesday]. . . . Generally, I think the left-handers did well tonight," said Forkel, one of five lefties who qualified to compete for the $18,000 first prize.
Even before Forkel vaulted into the lead, the lineup for the field of 24 match-play finalists was drastically altered during the final six games of the qualifying round earlier yesterday. While Williams jumped from 11th to first place, Kent plummeted to 19th, as he averaged only 183 in the third preliminary round.
D'Entremont, the first-round leader, was the only constant near the top of the board, improving from third to second, but he later slipped during match play.
Tom Baker went from 19th place to third by knocking down 1,432 pins in the last six qualifying games before dropping to ninth during match play. The biggest leap of the day went to Ricky Ward, who was 35th after the first dozen qualifying games, moved to 12th and finished tied for fourth with Mark Mosayebi with a pinfall of 5,906.
Two local bowlers survived the field of 160 to earn qualifying spots. Mark Bowers of Aberdeen, who got as high as eight at one point last night, is in 18th place (5,689) and Bruce Hollen, of Baltimore, is 22nd (5,619).
Match play concludes today with a second eight-game set starting at 11 a.m. and the last round beginning at 6.45 p.m. The field will be trimmed to five bowlers for the step-ladder competition that will be nationally televised (ABC) tomorrow at 3 p.m.