Andrew Anderson led qualifying Tuesday at the 2019 PBA Wilmington Open, but the real story was the difference in scoring pace between the two squads.
Anderson averaged a blistering 254.25 for eight games, totaling 2,034, as he led the field of 96 players at Ten Pin Alley Family Fun Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Competing on the second of two squads, Anderson put up games of 257, 275, 268, 256, 243, 259, 218 and 258 on the 39-foot Chameleon pattern.
It was obvious early on to anyone watching live on FloBowling that the second squad of the day would be significantly higher scoring than the first. In fact, just eight players from Squad A advanced into the cashers round, while 24 made it from Squad B.
Fresh off his victory at the PBA Chesapeake Open on Sunday, Bill O’Neill posted the best score on Squad A with 1,897, but he was the only player from his squad among the Top 10 by day’s end and finished in fifth place.
BJ Moore was second with 1,994, while Brad Miller, who shot back-to-back 300 games in the qualifying round, was third with 1,924. Wes Malott was fourth with 1,900.
The difference in scoring pace between the two squads even sparked the interest of Jason Belmonte, the No. 1 ranked bowler on the PBA Tour, who is not competing in the event.
Belmonte took to Facebook to express his concerns about the PBA using multiple squads to determine qualifying.
“The squad disparity is the main reason I have been calling for a one squad PBA for years,” Belmonte wrote. “It’s impossible science to get right. It’s unfair for players in the ‘bad’ squad - but it’s also unfair for PBA to be expected to work an impossible science out every time.
There is only one fix... remove multiple squad rounds.
“We are bowling for our careers, it’s hard enough beating the best in the world without worrying about if a certain squad will play easier due to no fault of anyone, other than the science we can’t work out,” Belmonte added.The issue of squad inequity will be a non-factor on the second day of the event in Wilmington as all players will bowl at the same time the rest of the way.
The 32 players who advanced Tuesday will bowl a four-game cashers round at 9 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday. From that round, 16 players will advance for a three-game Round of 16 before a two-game Round of 8 is contested.
The four players with the highest totals after 17 games will advance to the stepladder finals at 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. All rounds of the event are being broadcast live on FloBowling.
One other bit of drama happened as qualifying came to a close Tuesday night as Dom Barrett and Connor Pickford finished tied for the last advancing spot.
The two tied with 1,754, a 219.25 average, which forced a one-game rolloff. Barrett was able to secure his spot in the cashers round by defeating Pickford, 196-179.