In a superb bowling display, Blayne Fletcher emerged as the 2023 Kegel Queensland Open champion at Caboolture Bowl over the weekend.
Fletcher performed a dominant performance by maintaining a top-three position throughout the tournament, reminding all that he is one of the country’s top two-handed bowlers.
The Kegel Queensland Open is among the most prestigious bowling events in the Australian ranked-event Open division circuit, drawing top players from across the country and New Zealand. This year’s edition was no different, with a strong field of 107 contenders vying for the coveted title and a slice of the $24,000 plus prizemoney on offer.
“It’s one of the closer events to home, one of my favourite events, it was my first ranked event I ever did, I can never miss it, it’s up there with my favourite in Australia and the world, it’s always consistent and run very well,” explained Fletcher after the win.
Now in its 13th year, the Kegel QLD Open has been dominated by bowlers based in Queensland, with eight past champions based in the Sunshine state. In 2023, that trend would continue.
Bowling a rough 148 game to begin his campaign, Fletcher quickly regathered himself to score 200+ games for the remaining eleven stage-one qualifying section. Finishing in second place for the stage, Fletcher would sit behind defending champion Alicia Melton who finished with a total of 2,730.
“ I had a rough start,” explained Fletcher “I practised on the pattern, and it didn’t quite play the same, I made a few drastic moves, and it didn’t pay off, but when I found the shot, it was as simple as sticking to that as my game plan and execute.”
Kegel QLD Open Top 32
As the top 32 qualifiers advanced to stage two, positions up the top would shuffle. Junior rising star Blake Walsh moved up to the top spot after an incredible stage two averaging 235.7. Melton would drop to second, with Fletcher in the third spot.
Stages three and four would provide some of the same, with the same top three maintaining their positions heading into the exciting top eight finals bracket. His scores were not as good as day one for Fletcher, but he maintained his position.
“I felt like I was executing the shots just as well as day one, however, the pins were not falling my way, small misses led to big splits, that led to a lot of open frames – that brought the scores down – I realised there were a few things not going right, I was scrambling a bit, but once I got a feel where I needed to play, I created a new gameplan and executed that in the finals today to get the win,” explained Fletcher.
Kegel QLD Open Top 8
The top eight finals bracket is based on the Australian ‘footy’ finals system – the McIntyre system, where the top four performers are rewarded with a double chance in the final. The top four would face each other in round one of the finals in a best-of-three match aiming to receive an express ticket to the preliminary finals. After that, bowlers 5-8 would battle it out in elimination matches.
It didn’t take long for the finals bracket to start producing upsets. Toowoomba’s Ashley Warren would cause the first surprise as the fourth seed defeated top seed Blake Walsh in a sweep 2-0 (223-187, 257-229).
Number two seed and the lone female bowler in the bracket, Alicia Melton, would face three seed Blayne Fletcher in a tough match that went the distance. However, with bonus pins (8 pins for Ladies’ handicap) applied Alicia Melton would advance to the preliminary final in a nail-biting 2-1 victory (225-198, 234-278, 199-195).
Experience over youth would win out in the elimination legs, with Drew Charlton defeating Scott Robertson 2-0 (225-166, 227-212) and Brandon Qualischefski overcoming Nixon Chan 2-0 (238-201, 205-180).
With the remaining final matches all straight one-game elimination battles, the losers from the qualifying finals were ready for redemption by striking back with victories. Blake Wash would defeat Drew Charlton 223-204, while Blayne Fletcher would beat Brandon Qualishefski 256-233.
The final four at the end of stage three would be the last four remaining in the bracket. This time, an increase in pressure would be applied with straight one-game elimination matches determining who advances to the title match.
Blayne Fletcher would defeat Ashley Warren 247-214, while Alicia Melton kept the ‘repeat’ dream alive, beating Blake Walsh 202-158 in a low-scoring match.
In a repeat of the first final, the championship match between defending champion Alicia Melton and Blayne Fletcher would go down to the wire. The two battled it out in a tense back-and-forth, with the outcome decided in the 10th frame for a narrow 209-204 victory to Fletcher.
The win was a significant milestone for Fletcher. After a stellar Junior and Youth career, the Kegel victory is his first-ever open division ranked event win of his career.
“Still in disbelief,” explained Fletcher.
“I feel very fortunate to come away as the Kegel QLD Open champion this weekend after many years competing in national ranked events, it feels great to break the ice with my first win in the Open division.
“This one is extra special for me, having my gran, who travelled all the way from Zimbabwe, alongside my family for the whole event,” added Fletcher.
The next Open division ranked event on the calendar is the Australian Tenpin Bowling Open at Zone Bowling Frankston in Victoria on the 7-9 April 2023. Click here for all the released information with entries closing on 15 March 2023.
- Total pinfall: 5,622 (26 games)
- Average: 216.23
- High Game: 278
- Game scores
- Stage 1: 148, 212, 276, 257, 212, 248, 207, 218, 258, 235, 225, 213
- Stage 2: 167, 200, 207, 180
- Stage 3: 193, 178, 211, 194
- Final 2v3 vs Alicia Melton: 198-226, 278-234, 195-199
- Final vs Brandon Qualischefski: 256-233
- Preliminary Final vs Ashley Warren: 247-214
- Title match vs Alicia Melton: 209-204
- High Game: 290- Blayde Hamilton-Christensen – Stage 1
- Stage Performances (minus bonus pins)
- Stage 1: Blayne Fletcher 2,709 over 12 games 225.8 avg
- Stage 2: Blake Walsh 943 over 4 games 235.7 5avg
- Stage 3: Blake Walsh 875 over 4 games 218.75 avg
Top 8 finalists
- Blake Walsh
- Alicia Melton
- Blayne Fletcher
- Ashley Warren
- Scott Robertson
- Nixon Chan
- Brandon Qualischefski
- Drew Charlton
- Blayne Fletcher
- Alicia Melton
- Blake Walsh and Ashley Warren
Click here to view the final results for the 2023 Kegel QLD Open
Please note that bonus pins have not been applied to the finals bracket on TenpinResults yet.
TBA hopes to have all national rankings updated on the website this week. We thank you for your patience and understanding. When updated, these will be housed on this page here.
We thank the wonderful Lyn Fletcher for capturing the photos above. Visit Lyn’s Facebook page here