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Against All Odds: The Rare 7-10 Split Conversion in Bowling

7-10 split in bowling

In professional bowling, few feats are as elusive as the 7-10 split conversion. This challenging shot, often deemed the hardest in the sport, has been successfully executed on live television only four times in history.

Despite the thousands of bowling games played on TV, the rarity of this accomplishment underscores the incredible skill required to pull it off... and a little bit of luck.

A 7-10 split occurs when a bowler leaves two pins standing on opposite corners of the back row, the 7 and 10 pins. For professional bowlers, converting a 7-10 split is so rare that, as the joke goes,they're more likely to survive a lightning strike or win the lottery.

To put the difficulty into perspective, the rate of converting the 7-10 split just 0.8 percent. This is far less frequent than the occurrence of televised perfect games, which have been accomplished 35 times.

The first televised 7-10 split conversion happened on January 5, 1980, when 34-time PBA Tour title holder and a true legend of the sport, Mark Roth, achieved this stunning feat at the Alameda Open. Roth's success was so rare that some believed it would never be repeated on TV. It wasn't until a decade later, on February 16, 1991, that eight-time PBA Tour title winner John Mazza replicated Roth's achievement during the Bud Light Classic. Just five months later, on July 13, 1991, Jess Stayrook made his mark and became the third bowler to convert the split at the Tucson Open.

For 30 years, no one managed to join this exclusive club. This changed in April 2021 when an 18-year-old Anthony Neuer, successfully converted the 7-10 split during his U.S. Open semifinal match against Jakob Butturff.

Some bowling experts note that Neuer's achievement was especially impressive as the 18-year-old did it on a Brunswick GSX pinsetter. Because the pit curtain and cushion are separated pieces, this pinsetter is believed to be the hardest for getting pins to bounce back. In contrast, the previous three conversions on TV were made on 'easier pinsetters,' where the curtain and cushion were connected (Roth and Stayrook on Brunswick A2, and Mazza on AMF 82-70).

Regardless of the pinsetter type, 7-10 split conversions in bowling are incredibly rare, especially during televised events. The fact that it has only happened four times in 44 years makes the 7-10 split one of the rarest occurrences in all sports.

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