Tenpins & More’s Steve Mackie makes some post-tournament announcements, as this year’s winner, Francois Lavoie, left, savors his victory. (Herron photo)
RIO RANCHO – Rio Rancho bowler JD Nance bowled like he was on cruise control Sunday afternoon at Tenpins & More, where the 19th edition of the New Mexico Open was being contested.
Starting the day as the ninth seed, by the time the 32 bowlers who made the cut were whittled down to four for the stepladder finals, he was the highest-ranking seed, only losing once – to 11 seed Francois Lavoie.
Re-seeded for the finals, Nance was the 2 seed, with Lavoie earning the 1 seed and a bye into the championship round. After 4 seed Fero Williams defeated 3 seed Steve Novak, 208-168, Nance closed out his match with Williams with eight consecutive strikes. Williams finished strong, but his open second frame hurt, and Nance ripped him, 259-215.
In what turned out to be the championship match, unless Nance could hand Lavoie his first loss and mandate a winner-take-all game, Nance again was rolling along.
Although Lavoie – competing in the championship game for the third time – opened with two strikes, he left the third frame open after failing to convert a 2-10 split.
That might have left the door open for Nance, who managed only four strikes in the finale, until the fateful ninth frame. His lead was a scant pin, 174-173 heading into the final frame, but he couldn’t turn a 6-8 split into a spare.
That left that proverbial door open for Lavoie, when Nance’s first ball in the 10th frame netted him just six pins, leaving a 1-3-6-7 split.
Even though he converted that tough conversion and closed with a strike, Lavoie was quick to pounce, with back-to-back strikes to clinch the win and nine pins on the day’s final roll for a 202-194 victory.
Losing again in the championship game, which he’d also done last year, Nance was happy to be in the mix with all the great bowlers originally entered.
“It is extremely daunting to have to make a 7 pin (for a spare),” Nance, a southpaw, said, after being reminded he’d left that pin standing several times during his final two games, and so he’d been practicing that tough shot.
As for the 1-3-6-7 split in the final frame, Nance said, “It’s pretty tough. The first shot was a little wide and didn’t come up – left the washout. And I thought, ‘You know what? Let’s go for it’ and maybe make (Lavoie) do something in the 10th. I was fortunate to get the cover and throw the strike.’
“I did the best I could do to get a little pressure on him, but he’s among the greatest in the world.”
Lavoie, a Canadian who live in Wichita, Kansas, and is a two-time US Open champ, took home the winner’s check for $13,000.
Nance won $6,500 and said it’d be spent “probably on Applebee’s and Disneyland.”
Williams, who won $3,250, had an unorthodox delivery en route to his success. Bent over, he’d take five steps and loft his ball about 10 feet beyond the foul line. His ball had a big break and he had a powerful throw, hopefully not leaving dents in the lane.
Open frames: Tournament organizer Steve Mackie said of the hundreds of games rolled Friday through Sunday at the Open, there were no perfect games. “We haven’t had one Chris Barnes had one in 2018. We had a close call (Saturday night) … Matt Jones from Arizona opened with the first 11 in a row and then got a seven count for a 297.”
…. There were a tournament-high 211 entries this month, with just over $80,000 in cash doled out.