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Book leads qualifiers Florida bowler sets pace at Etonic event

Todd Book's first visit to New York State may turn out to be memorable.

"Never bowled in this area. Never been to New York before," the 36-year-old Denny's PBA Tour rookie said after he bowled at a 264 clip in his last three games to walk off with the top score Thursday night in the qualifying round of the Etonic Championship at AMF Thruway Lanes.

Paired in the same foursome with defending champion Pete Weber, Book showed the Hall of Famer a thing or two. His total was 3,425 for 14 games.

"When you bowl with Pete Weber you've got to show up," said Book, who gained his Tour exemption by winning the Tour Trials last spring.

Paired in the same foursome with defending champion Pete Weber, Book showed the Hall of Famer a thing or two. His total was 3,425 for 14 games.

"When you bowl with Pete Weber you've got to show up," said Book, who gained his Tour exemption by winning the Tour Trials last spring.

Book was in 21st place after bowling a 1,620 in the first seven-game block Thursday. He came back at night and shot a blistering 1,805 (278 average).

However, the Cantonment, Fla. bowler was not the high scorer on the day.

Bowling on the same lanes and alongside the men, Joy Esterson of Annapolis, Md., led the qualifying for the PBA Women's Series event with 3,461 (247.23 average). Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga was third with 3,318.

Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla. and Edward VanDaniker Jr. of Essex, Md. qualified second for the Etonic, five pins behind Book. VanDaniker, who made the field via Wednesday's Tour Qualifier, led most of the night, the last time after he shot a 300 in his next-to-last game. However, a 172 in his final game dropped him into a tie for second.

The only Western New York male to qualify for match play was Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, who was ninth with 3,316. He rose as high as third in the standings after opening the second block with 289 and 288 before leveling off.

"I had some games where I struck in bunches but I was never really comfortable with my ball reaction. I'm still searching," Jurek said.

Buffalo's Joe Ciccone and Buffalo native Tom Baker of King, N.C. failed to make the cut. Brad Angelo of Lockport was forced to scratch because of a back injury. The top 32 in Thursday's qualifying round of 64 will begin best-of-seven single elimination match play at 9 a.m. today followed by rounds at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to arrive at the final four for Sunday's televised championship (ESPN, 1 p.m.).

Johnson finished her afternoon round with a 300 game.

"That gave me a big boost," Johnson said. "I came back tonight playing the same game plan. I was consistent. I was 260 over [200 average] this afternoon and 258 over tonight."

The women's field was narrowed to eight bowlers with two rounds of match play today to determine the two finalists for Sunday's show. Esterson shot 1,772 (253 average) in her second seven-game block to move in front of Carolyn Dorin-Ballard.

The scores were the highest yet since the Tour returned to Thruway Lanes. It took a score of 390 plus (over 200 average) to make the cut. There have been seven 300 games bowled so far.

"Based on yesterday's practice round, I'm not surprised the scores are as high as they are," Jurek said. "You're going to have to bowl in the 240s to win matches."

e-mail: mnorthrop@buffnews.com

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