Eric Forkel became the first leader to hold his position in the Greater Baltimore Open at Country Club Lanes yesterday, and he did it twice. As a result, the 34-year old left-hander is in a commanding position to take the $18,000 first prize in today's nationally televised finals.
Despite losing four of his eight matches last night, Forkel easily topped the field of five finalists with a total pin count of 10,010. That left him 76 ahead of David Traber, the No. 2 seed.
Forkel, who had moved from 22nd place to the top of the board the day before, continued his hot play during yesterday's early round, when he built a 222-pin lead. "I didn't throw the ball as well tonight and they came after me, but I was able to hang on," said Forkel, from Chatsworth, Calif.
"Sometimes when you get a big lead you relax a little bit and get out of rhythm, and I think that happened a little bit. I ran into a little trouble in my last four games, but I'm satisfied with the way I bowled."
The makeup of the final field of five was not determined until the final game of the night, the position round. Forkel and Traber were the only bowlers to remain in the positions they held before the final matches.
Roger Bowker, who was in second place earlier, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. went into their final game tied for the fifth and final spot in the finals. After opening in his first frame, Bowker 'N rebounded strongly to roll a 224, but he was never in the match and had to settle for $3,500 sixth-place money.
Williams opened with five straight strikes and finished with a 246 that moved him into fourth place, ahead of Mark Williams, who has been near the top of the leader board all week.
Although all of today's finalists have won major events on the tour, none has been a familiar face on television this year. Forkel and Walter Williams will be making their second appearances of the year, and the other three are in the finals for the first time in eight tournaments.
For Mark Williams, the chance to go for the top prize was something of a relief, even though he dropped three places yesterday. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the television show this week," he said. "I feel like I bowled consistently, so it's a good feeling."
In order to win the tour's first area tournament in three years, either of the Williamses will have to win four games in the stepladder competition. They will open the telecast today, with the winner facing Norm Duke, who made a strong run to finish third after 42 games of qualifying and match play.
Second-place money will be worth $9,500, with $6,000 going to the third-place finisher, $5,000 for fourth and $4,000 for fifth place.
Bruce Hollen of Baltimore had the highest finish of the two area bowlers who made the 24-man qualifying field. He was 19th, good for $1,600.
Mark Bowers of Aberdeen finished 24th, winning $1,250.
1, Eric Forkel, Chatsworth, Calif., 16-8, 10,010. 2, David Traber, Woodstock, Ill., 18-6, 9,934. 3, Norm Duke, Edmond, Okla., 14-9-1, 9,798. 4, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Stockton, Calif., 17-7, 9,789. 5, Mark Williams, Beaumont, Texas, 13-11, 9,776. 6, Roger Bowker, Ocala, Fla., 15-9, 9,737, $3,500.
7, Butch Soper, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 13-11, 9,675, $3,200. 8, Mark Mosayebi, Charlotte, N.C., 14-10, 9,610, $3,000. 9, Dennis Horan, San Diego, 9-14-1, 9,499, $2,800. 10, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 14-9-1, 9,496, $2,600. 11, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 15-9, 9,465, $2,400. 12, Tom Baker, Buffalo, N.Y., 9-15, 9,460, $2,300.
13, Del Ballard Jr., Richardson, Texas, 10-13-1, 9,425, $2,200. 14, Tommy Delutz Jr., Jamaica, N.Y., 12-11-1, 9,404, $2,100. 15, Chris Warren, Dallas, 12-12, 9,397, $2,000. 16, Dave D'Entremont, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, 8-16, 9,376, $1,900. 17, Ricky Ward, North Fort Myers, Fla., 11-13, 9,330, $1,800. 18, Doug Kent, Canandaigua, N.Y., 10-14, 9,308, $1,700.
19, Bruce Hollen, Baltimore, 13-11, 9,285, $1,600. 20, Mark Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 8-16, 9,199, $1,500. 21, Bill Oakes, Lawton, Okla., 10-14, 9,129, $1,400. 22, Steve Hoskins, Tarpon Springs, Fla., 8-16, 9,088, $1,350. 23, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 9-14-1, 9,063, $1,300. 24, Mark Bowers, Aberdeen, Md., 7-17, 8,870, $1,250.
What: Greater Baltimore Open stepladder finals
Where: Country Club Lanes, Pulaski Highway, Rosedale
When: Today, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
TV: 3 p.m., chs. 2, 7