Mike Spangler won the Bud Light York County Match Play Championship in 2016 and finished second last year.
As a result of those experiences, Spangler said he was a lot more relaxed during the qualifying sessions this past weekend. The right-hander set the pace for the 52-bowler field, averaging 250 for 12 games.
Spangler carries a 47-pin lead into match play, which begins with six games at 2 p.m., Saturday at East Lincoln Lanes and concludes with six games at 10 a.m. Sunday, at South Hanover Lanes.
"I didn't feel like I had to shoot 270 every game," said Spangler, discussing his qualifying sessions. "I've been here before, so I knew I could bowl well enough to qualify."
Spangler knows he'll have his work cut out for him in match play. The 12-man field features four other former champs: Adam Baer, Steve Carbaugh, Greg Bruff and Jerred Poff.
The format: Bowlers carry over the number of pins more than 2,400 that they accumulated in qualifying. In match play, bowlers receive plus or minus the number of pins over or under 200 each game, plus 30 bonus pins for a win. Each bowler rolls one game against every other bowler in the field. The final game is a position round, pitting No. 1 vs. No. 2, No. 3 vs. No. 4, No. 5 vs. No. 6 and so forth.
"Match play is like a new tournament," Spangler said. "The standings are bunched up (204 pins separate first place from 12th place), so things can change quickly. It's really wide open.
"You have to bring your 'A' game because there are no easy matches. The bonus pins will be huge. You have to take each game frame by frame. You can't get ahead of yourself."
Looking ahead: Spangler is looking forward to competing at East Lincoln and South Hanover.
"I've always liked bowling at East Lincoln, and I won my title at South Hanover," he said. "I will try to get lined up as quickly as possible at each center."
Spangler survived a late charge by Adam Baer in 2016 to capture a narrow three-pin victory, the closest in the tournament's 22-year history. He finished second to Baer last year.
"Winning the Match Play title once is awesome," Spangler said. "Winning it twice would be even better."
First place is worth $1,000.
Standings: Here are the standings and pin totals at the start of match play: 1. Spangler (603); 2. Josh Coleman (556); 3. Adam Baer (481); 4. Steve Carbaugh (468); 5. Greg Bruff (460); 6. Eric Smith (434); 7. Jerred Poff (425); 8. Chuck Crone (416); 9. Joey Mong (415); 10. Andy Carson (404); 11. Brent Hunter (404); 12. Paul Wolfram (399).
Reach Barry Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was provided through the York County Bowling Proprietors Association.