Last year I told you it is rare when we get to see history created, that we get to see it made and added to, but the very beginning of such things are few and far between. These things only happen when a passion so strong it is unphased by the goliath powers that push against, meets a dream that aims to shoot past the stars. Last year I got to see the outcome of this meeting and as beautiful as it was, it came with a request. Now that we have gotten this special moment, it is our duty, responsibility and commitment to carry this on so that one day that moment will be history created, not history forgotten. The Championship Bowling Masters will have a tradition built because of the passion behind the people who work to create it, and those who participate in it. Year 2 starts now, with a record setting field and stakes that have been elevated. 500 extra points on the CB TOUR, the lone major, and now the prestige to be a major champion. Welcome friends, to the 2023 Championship Bowling Masters.
With some big names absent from the roster this weekend, the points championship is looking at a HUGE shakeup. This was really a process of elimination for me going from 20 bowlers to 12. The format reality makes it tough to gauge where people will end up, however with the CB Masters presented by REX Ball Reviews and Beckstead Landscape brewing double elimination, the variance tightens a little bit. I put a very heavy emphasis on past performances in this bowling center. It is so unique in the way it plays regardless of oil pattern. So with that said, here are my top 12 heading into this weekend's major championship.
12. Kendle Miles - Kendle will be making his CB TOUR debut this weekend in a center where he has had success before. He made a very good run at the Storm Utah Open earlier this year that fell just short in the late stages of the finals. Kendles speed should allow him to play straighter angles which in this center is a huge plus. The pattern this week is 45 feet, which is quite long for what we normally bowl on, and will make it very challenging to get your ball through the pins. Kendle has a great opportunity to make up some points he missed out on at the Rumbi Island Grill Classic with a good finish this weekend
11. Manny Ferrell - Manny has also had some success in this building, making the step ladder at the Storm Utah Open, and taking 7th place at the 1st ever CB Masters last year. Although he missed the cut at the RIGC, I think he matches up to the pattern very well, and with his forward ball roll will be able to kick the 10 out just a few extra times. I see bowlers finding the pocket fairly easily, but striking will be where the difference is made. The cut is going to be tight, and Manny will need to lock in his focus as good shots will absolutely not strike this weekend. How he will manage these situations will greatly dictate his success.
10. Giorgio Clinaz - Gio always manages to bounce back. Although he did make it through 2 rounds of the RIGC bracket, he was the 20 seed. He also squeaked through qualifying and does not bowl well in this center. However, he just won in Pocatello, also a center he doesn’t bowl well in. Can Gio crack the code at Sparetime? What is the answer? I’m honestly not sure. My guess is Gio’s ball roll is really good at controlling the lane, but at Sparetime, you have to get your ball through the pins. And those 2 things don’t always match up. Gio really needs to figure out a way to strike. Obviously this is what everyone is trying to do, but I mean strike. Not hit the pocket. Strike. And when you are hitting the pocket and not striking the frustration sets in real fast. 45 feet might just help him keep his angels shut for longer and that may just be the key.
9. Chase Nadeau - Chase comes in with the pressure to perform as he will miss the Coach K Scholarship Open. This will be his best opportunity to get those points heading into the Tour Championship in Reno and grabbing the Champion Bowler of the Year Ring. Chase lost to runner up Nick Borgaro at the RIGC where he bowled pretty dang good besides the first game in the cashers round. These 2 patterns though are worlds apart and from all accounts urethane won’t be in play. Chase did bowl well at the Storm Utah Open which gives me confidence he will manage the frustrations that come with throwing great shots and not striking. Will he catch the right breaks at the right time in the bracket to get the big points? Let’s hope so!
8. Dallas Burke - Dallas has been not so sneaky good lately making the step ladder in Pocatello, and really just being in contention at every event we got to. The way he plays the lanes relay takes the pattern out of play and comes down to his shot making. We don’t really bowl on anything too short or too long but looking back to Thunder Egg, Dallas managed the long pattern enough to make the cut after the short. Dallas also bowled well at the SUO, as you can see there is a pattern here, and again straighter angles helps in this building. Can Dallas strike enough in the bracket to win, that we shall see.
7. Daria Pajak - Daria also makes her CB TOUR debut after missing the 2022 CB Masters and the RIGC. She is in for a shock with this format as the best of 2 double elimination bracket gets very tight. She doesn’t have too much experience at this center, but she is a PWBA pro. She is used to bowling in centers where pair to pair is a challenge but what is different is the way the pairs break down. In events like these, bowlers play all over the place and on the PWBA, most of the bowlers will migrate to a similar spot. I think she has a good shot at making a deep run in the bracket. Her ball roll matches up well with this pattern and in this center, but there will be a time where she needs to strike to win a match, and that will be exciting to watch.
6. Kyle Morrison - Ok so here we are in the top half of the rankings. I had these guys pretty much locked up after the RIGC. Kyle has been bowling really well as of late and as he bowls more and more we get to see what a talent he truly is. I think Kyle will excel on a pattern like this where his style matches up. He will be able to kick the 10 out more than others. Now Kyle does have one of the more memorable moments in this major championship where his match with Nick Borgaro went to a roll off and needing 9 to tie and strike to win Kyle pocket 7 - 10’d. It was wild to watch in person and the gasps from the crowd were deafening. My prediction is Kyle makes another deep run into the bracket, hopefully this time staying in the winners bracket and bowling less games.
5. Clay Rees - Not too often I put a defending champion this low in the rankings, but Clay has been in a bit of a slump. Now don't jump on me here folks, Clay’s slump is different from a normal slump. I haven’t seen Clay in a step ladder in quite some time, and I am used to seeing him in just about all of them. The good thing for Clay is he obviously bowls well in this center and took down Alex in the title match last year. The key here for Clay is to bowl with confidence. I know and we all know he can get it done, and a win this weekend would set the bar extremely high for the years following this event. Not only would it be historical, Clay kind of needs the points this weekend after an early exit at the RIGC. These matches are so close and at the RIGC he was 1 shot from sending it to a roll off. Clay is 1 break from going the distance this weekend and going back to back. Now that I mention it, this center has a history of back to back champions.
4. Cameron Henning - Cameron comes into the weekend as the most recent winner of a major event in this building. He is also coming off a strong finish at the RIGC and Tough Guy Masters. Cameron has been on a hot streak lately and is looking to extend that. $5 feet is a unique challenge though especially at this center. On one hand he will for sure be able to play a lot straighter for longer, which is great here. It’s one of the reasons he was so dangerous at the SUO. One the other will he be able to strike enough to grab a win this weekend. The SUO was a grind and Cameron grinded them out the best. This weekend the pattern is much softer and the trick will be getting the ball through the pins. Cameron’s key to victory Sunday will be matching up with the right ball and doing what he does best.
3. Andy Kinney - Andy is continuing on a career season and coming off an epic battle with Alex at the RIGC. Their roll off went 4 rounds with Andy leaving a very tough 4 pin to lose the match. Andy and Alex have been battling it out for best bowler in the area for a while now and we could see the tide turn this weekend. They bring the best out of each other each time they bowl, it is must watch tv! I have no doubt Andy will find a way to strike and I have no doubt he will keep up with transition. We are to the point now where a coin flip could decide these guys and I am just excited to watch it play out. Andy bowls some of the most exciting matches and this weekend will be no different. Keep an eye out for him to be the #1 seed again as he was last year at the CB Masters.
2. Nick Borgaro - Nick bowled such a great match against Alex at the RIGC. The messenger that almost was will go down as an all time moment on the CB TOUR. Similar to Andy I know Nick will find a way to strike and I know he will keep up with transition. The beauty of this event is that everyone is beatable. No matter how stacked it may seem, you just have to beat someone 1 time. Nick will have a slight advantage in my eyes over Andy because he can throw it harder and I think that helps in the bowling center. Nick led qualifying in this event last year going +98 for 4 games. Nick has a great shot to win and lock up the points lead but I think someone else is determined for redemption.
1. Alex Hoskins - Alex was your first CB TOUR champion after securing the win over Nick Borgaro in a roll off throwing one of the best shots I have ever seen. Alex has suffered some really bad beats in the past and it was refreshing to see him throw a great shot and get rewarded. After the RIGC though Alex has struggled a tad being eliminated early in Pocatello and struggling at the most recent Uzelac. Just a fluke or is it something worse? Whatever it is, Alex needs to clear his mind a bit and refocus. This weekend very well could decide the points championship and securing a top 5 finish is imperative. Alex is my pick to redeem his performance last year where Clay got the best of him in the roll off. If Alex becomes the CB TOUR’s first major champion he is almost certain a lock for Champion Bowler of the Year.
The 2023 Championship Bowling Masters presented by REX Ball Reviews, Beckstead Landscape, Meredith and AJ in the Morning 94.1 KODJ, and Storm Bowling products kicks off at 4 PM MDT Friday 9/29/23 with the first of 5 qualifying squads. Check our schedule for a full breakdown of qualifying and finals times.