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It was just your average 4-pin for $50,000.

That was Dave Guindon's philosophical look back at the pin that stood between him and victory and the difference between first and second place in the Storm International Eliminator tournament two weeks ago at Sam's Town in Las Vegas.

After the early rounds in the winners' bracket, Guindon battled back from his first loss to win five matches in the second chance bracket to make the finals, then won four times in the stepladder finals before dropping the championship match to Adam Colton, 213-212. Colton walked off with the $100,000 top prize and Guindon earned $50,000.

Big pay days are nothing new for Guindon in Las Vegas. He won the Eliminator's $100,000top prize in 1995 and finished third for $50,000 in the 1998 High Roller.

In this year's early rounds, Guindon hit a point where he could reach the top 17 with a chance to get to the top four and a stepladder berth or be faced with a longer road through the losers bracket.

"It was a big round," Guindon said. "If you lose you can't go on to bowl for the top four spots. It took 210 (to advance) and I had 203. I threw a couple of bad shots and was upset with myself.

"That put me in the losers bracket and there were 32 there. Now we're bowling for the fifth (and last) spot (on the stepladder) and you had to be the last survivor."

Round by round Guindon rallied from the Round of 32 to 16, 8, 4 and 2. The West Seneca bowler doubled in the 10th frame of the last qualifying match to defeat former Team USA player David Haynes of Las Vegas.

In the stepladder, Guindon started with the front nine before a 10-pin stood in a 277-259 win over Kritchawat Jampakhao of Kuwait. Then he knocked off Eduardo Legorreta of Mexico, 236-215, and Ken Abner of Cincinnati, 225-183, to earn a shot at the undefeated Colton.

Guindon built enough of a lead that he just needed a few pins in the 10th frame to hold off Colton, 233-227, leaving each bowler with one loss, forcing a roll-off.

"The lanes were starting to change but I could see the transition and I didn't think it would be a problem if I moved a little left," Guindon said.

"I started with a spare and a four-bagger. He was having trouble early, he had 65 in the fourth frame, but I left a 4-6 split and he tripled to come within about 10 pins by the seventh. It stayed that way into the ninth and he could have shut me out but he left a 10-pin in the ninth and struck out for 213.

"With 172 in the eighth and a spare in the ninth I needed a double to close him out (and win the $100,000). I got the first one but left a 4-pin. Just your average 4-pin for $50,000.

"The first shot (in the 10th) was actually worse than the second one. I was OK with the shot, it just broke a little too soon.

"The lane conditions have changed since we were last here. I've been working on softening my release and working on different angles. Brian Eaton (a former Western New York bowler now living in Las Vegas) gave me some tips and once you see everything, you read it and run with it."

Guindon said when he moved left for the final game and played a straighter line to the pocket, Colton moved to the right and threw harder.

"I had a good break point earlier and I thought there was enough (of a break point from the left) but it just wasn't the same. I had the advantage early, but got caught in transition and it worked out (for Colton) toward the end. He bowled good and forced me to perform."

Too little too late

Guindon cashed another $10,000 to $12,000 in Sweepers and brackets, while Mike Faliero, Brad Angelo and Jeff Walsh were among the area entrants to make various cash lists.

Faliero finished sixth overall in the main event for $6,000, leaving Guindon to point out an irony in the format. Faliero advanced further as an unbeaten player, needing one more win to reach the top four.

In that elimination round, Faliero had 224 and Jeremy Sonnenfeld (bowling's first sanctioned 900 performer) had 221. They were ousted by Legorreta (232) and Jampakhao (227). At that point there was no losers bracket for Faliero and Sonnenfeld to drop to.

Masiello cashes in

John Masiello of Buffalo won a $2,400 sweeper at the High Roller's 40 and Over Classic last week at the Castaways, formerly the Showboat, in Las Vegas.

Then Masiello averaged 235 for four games to qualify ninth in the 40 and Over Division for the Classic finals. He reached the Round of 16 to earn another $1,500.

Around the lanes

Lindsay Baker of Amherst qualified second and finished third in the Youth Bowlers Tour stop at Roseland Bowl in Canandaigua.

Bowl Inn is running a Baker Style Team Handicap Tournament Feb. 25 with the Sunday squads at 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m. Five-person teams can be any combination of men and women with six games across three pairs of lanes. Entry is $25 per person and handicap is based on 90 percent of a 200 team composite average and a team limit of 1,000. Call 824-9074.

Entries close Feb. 21 for the city women's tournament March 3-4 and 10-11 at Voelker's. Entry is $12 per person, per event for team, doubles and singles and $2 for optional all events. Handicap is 100 percent of 230 average. Call the Buffalo Women's Association at 897-5470.

The Amateur Bowlers Association has a $1,000 first place tournament Sunday at Amherst Lanes with five squads starting at 9 a.m. and finals at 4:30.

A qualifier for Jamestown's Cable TV Challenge will be held Sunday at Jamestown Bowling Company with four squads starting at 10 a.m.

The BPA Buffalo Beverage Miller Lite All Stars bowl today at Manor at 2 p.m.

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