The 17th instalment of partypoker Weber Cup, tenpin bowling’s annual Ryder Cup style battle, is set for EventCity, Manchester this weekend and the European team is relishing the opportunity to move ahead of USA in the tournament’s history.
With three consecutive Weber Cup victories, Europe have levelled the historic score with both sides now having eight titles to their name.
The host nation have made just one change to their team for this year’s transatlantic tenpin tussle, with 21-year-old Swedish sensation Jesper Svensson taking the place of Osku Palermaa.
With 17 Weber Cup appearances between them, the European side will be drawing on a wealth of experience over America, whose four-man team includes two debutants while captain Parker Bohn III made his Weber Cup bow last year. Wes Malott is the most experienced in the side with two Weber Cups to his name.
“The American team don’t have experience in the Weber Cup, and getting on that lane – there is nothing like that in the whole world,” said Barratt. “It is completely different to anything else you experience and it does normally take a year or two to come in and get comfortable in the environment.
“Over the last couple of months I have been playing well, Stuart Williams has just won the European Masters, Jesper has just medalled in the World Youth Championships. Martin Larsen has only played one of the recent European events and still made the top three.
“Jesper brings a bit of flair. He is a left hander and he probably has the most powerful strike ball in the world – when he is striking nobody can keep up with him.
“Team unity is huge and so is having a positive mindset. When the momentum is with you, knowing how to make the most of that is key.
“We are a close group as friends and our families have been with us before at the Weber Cup too. Martin and Jesper are from the same bowling club and know each other very well, so that gives us an advantage with Martin being able to help Jesper handle his debut and adapt.
“Even though we have changed our team slightly this year with Jespen Svensson coming, the five of us with Osku who was in the team last year, all travel together and room together when we are in America. As a unit we are very good and as a captain I don’t have to lead as such, just organise what we do.
“We have won the last three Weber Cups. Three years ago was really close and we had a big comeback to win the trophy and the following year was an even bigger comeback. Last year we dominated.
“Probably for the very first time in the history of the Weber Cup, we will be going in as favourites.”
American captain Parker Bohn III is one of the sport’s modern greats – his 35 PBA Tour titles is almost four times the number of titles the European team has between them. However, he is a relative newcomer to the Weber Cup and is ready to savour one of bowling’s biggest weekends.
“Outside of losing, what is there not to enjoy?” he said. “The arena, the lane, the atmosphere and of course the fans.
“The stage that this takes place, one lane with eight players and two teams, how can you not get pumped and want to give it everything you have in every shot? It truly is a one of a kind experience for all.
“I would have to say the big thing for us to do differently this year is try not to dig a big hole. Luck will always come into play somewhere but as a player who has seen just about everything, we have to keep things into perspective and not let things get out of hand.
“We tried our best last year but silly things just kept happening and we never got on track. This year will be different.
“Last year the European team could have been called ‘Team Houdini’. I say this because they made almost every makeable spare or split like they were shooting the 5 pin. Don’t get me wrong, they bowled really well and filled frames almost flawlessly and in this format, that is very huge.
“We need to be the ones filling the frames and avoiding the unforced errors. By doing so this will also help your team get the right break at the right time and slowly build on it, one match at a time.
“Being captain is very important. Decisions that are made can and certainly will affect our entire team.
“We will all share in these decisions as we are looking forward to working together to win. There are certainly going to be ups and downs, there always are but making sure that we maintain a positive mental outlook will be huge, I look forward to keeping this under control while competing in every match.
“We have a great team. Marshall Kent is a very versatile player. He can play up the lane and go around it with the best of them. Although he is young, I will put him on the lanes against anyone at any time in any situation.
“Kyle Troup is a very flamboyant type of guy. He is also that guy that will not back down. He will let you know how he feels and will show all of his colours on the lane. He will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat as you don’t know what may come next.
“Wes Malott is extremely important. He is the guy that can do it all and having the most experience of anyone on the US team, I think he can help the rookies by giving them a little idea of what to expect. He certainly has the respect from all of us and I think his past history here can go a long, long way.”
partypoker Weber Cup is the tenpin bowling version of golf’s Ryder Cup as two four-man teams from Europe and the USA compete over three days in a series of singles, doubles and baker format matches.
The Weber Cup will be staged over five sessions – 6.30pm Friday 5th and 12.30pm and 6.00pm on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th. The tournament will be produced by Matchroom Sport television and broadcast live on Sky Sports as well as other channels around the world.
All tickets are available from www.webercup.com