Five Things You Need to Know

by PBA Editor February 17, 2003 19:00
For the third consecutive season, the PBA Tour visits Country Club Lanes – West this week in Burlington, NC, for the PBA Tar Heel Open. Here are a few things that you probably didn’t know… 1. Bowling on Tobacco Road Pro bowling in North Carolina can be traced back to the state’s first Tour stop in 1962. The first Winston-Salem Open, and its $5,000 first prize, was won by Al Savas. A total of 13 tournaments have been contested in the Tar Heel State. Cities which have hosted Tour stops include Burlington, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. 2. A Pair of Friendly Majors North Carolina stood in the bowling spotlight in 1977 and 1978 when it played host to a pair of U.S. Opens. Friendly Lanes in Greensboro was host to the two majors. Johnny Petraglia won the second jewel of bowling’s Triple Crown in 1977, and Nelson Burton Jr., climbed the stepladder to win the 1978 Open. The Opens were the last two PBA Tour stops in North Carolina for more than two decades. 3. Pete Weber’s Best Defense The Tar Heel Open marks the first of back-to-back events where Pete Weber is the defending champion. At last year’s Columbia 300 Tar Heel Open, “P.D.W.” needed a 3-4-6-7-10 split conversion to win his third title of the season. While Weber has never successfully defended a PBA title, he has won in the same center in back-to-back years. He won the 1991 U.S. Open title at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, and won the 1992 Touring Players Championship at the same center. 4. No Resting on the Couch If there is one player to watch at the Tar Heel Open, it’s Jason Couch. The three-time Tournament of Champions winner has qualified for the Tar Heel Open finals in the Tour’s two previous visits to Country Club West. He’s also coming off a second-place finish at the VIA Bowling Open in his hometown of Orlando, Fla. Look for Couch to contend for his second title of the season as he tries to move into the top eight in points for seeding at the World Championship in March. 5. Williams, Hayden No Shows in Burlington Walter Ray Williams Jr. fans will have to wait until next week until they see their guy in action. The five-time Player of the Year is taking the week off, and will return to action at the Odor-Eaters Open in Louisville, Ky. At the Days Inn Open in Dallas, Williams admitted that he considered missing the Texas stop to rest and recover from the number of games bowled between the ABC Masters and the U.S. Open. But since Williams had friends in the area, and because it was on the way home to Florida, he decided to bowl. He also competed at the VIA Bowling Open in Orlando, where he missed the cut to the second round by five pins. Another no-show in Burlington is the PBA’s newest champion Chris Hayden. The sixth-year pro won his first title last week at the VIA Bowling Open, but won’t attempt to win two straight. He also expects to return at the Odor-Eaters Open. E-Mail this PBA.com columnist
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Time on Tour

by PBA Editor February 16, 2003 19:00
On the PBA Tour, “Only One Can Win.” So what happens in the time when you’re not winning? If you’re a touring professional, life on the road can best be described as “hurry up and wait.” The players are either rushing to be somewhere, or they’re finding ways to pass the time. With many players flying from stop to stop, they arrange their hotel and air schedule with the impression that they will make the ESPN finals. But missing the cut and finishing your week on a Thursday or Friday can make for plenty of downtime. So on a good week, a player can bowl for two days, get a check for $1,000 on Friday afternoon, and not have another bowling obligation until Tuesday or Wednesday. So what would you do to pass the time? Many players elect to go home for a few days of rest before going to the next tournament. For many players, the frequency of their trips is dependent upon where the Tour currently is bowling, and where they go next. “When we were in the Midwest, I would go home every week,” said Tour sophomore Jeff Carter of Springfield, Ill. “Most of the trips were within a day’s drive, so I would be able to go home and spend a day or two with my family.” Then there are players like Kurt Pilon, who go home every weekend, no matter where the Tour has stopped for the week. Pilon, who owns two pro shops in suburban Detroit, says going home helps to maintain a presence with his family and businesses while continuing to compete on Tour. “It’s one of those things that I have built into my travel schedule,” said Pilon, who won his first title last season in Peoria, Ill. “Even if I’m only home for a day or two, it definitely makes for a happier home.” Carter says his trips home were therapeutic. “I actually bowled better when I would come back on Tour. I was more focused and more confident on the lanes.” As for the players who don’t go home, the options for killing time are numerous. Many play golf, go fishing or pursue other outdoor interests. And there are those who coordinate their schedules with what’s going on in the host city. Many of the guys take in movies, concerts and sporting events. “One of the first things I do is check to see if there are any good concerts in town,” said Joe Ciccone, a former Rookie of the Year. “I hit three concerts last season, and I’ll probably hit a few this year if time permits.” Many of the younger players have followed the path of their professional brethren in the major sports by taking to video games to pass the time. Players like Robert Smith, Tony Reyes, Ritchie Allen and Tommy Jones fill their days with action and sports games on game systems that travel with them to every stop. “Robert is the guy to beat on PlayStation 2,” said Reyes. “It doesn’t matter what you play, he’s always tough to beat.” But for many of the players, the down-time between tournaments is used for practice. The PBA reserves lanes for tournament competitors away from the match play lanes for practice on that week’s pattern. Top players like two-time winner Tommy Delutz Jr. know that the time between tournaments is not to be taken lightly. Delutz, Flushing, N.Y., makes good use of his off-time with lots of practice and keeping his focus on making his game better. “Not including the two tournaments in Japan, we only have 20 weeks to make a living,” said Delutz, who is currently fourth on the points list. “I have all summer to hang out and have a good time.” And keeping focus may be the hardest thing to do on the Tour. But Ciccone put Tour life into perspective. “Just because we bowl for a living doesn’t mean we stop living our lives,” he said. “Most players continue to live like they do when they’re at home. If they don’t, then they won’t be comfortable, and probably won’t be successful.” E-Mail this PBA.com columnist
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Hayden Takes VIA

by PBA Editor February 15, 2003 19:00
Chris Hayden spoiled the homecoming party for Jason Couch by winning the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) VIA Bowling Open Sunday at Boardwalk Bowl. Hayden, Greenville, S.C., claimed his first PBA Tour title and became only the second player to go undefeated (12-0) in the PBA’s single-elimination match play format. His 236-227 defeat of Couch, Clermont, Fla., earned him the top prize of $40,000. “It’s such an unbelievable feeling to win a title,” said Hayden. “To beat a champion like Jason for my first title makes it that much better.” Hayden and Couch were even after four frames, with both players starting with a spare and three strikes. Couch took a one-pin lead after Hayden left the 4-7, and he spared and doubled in the sixth and seventh frames. After a strike in the sixth and a 7-pin spare left Hayden struck in the eighth and ninth frames, while Couch left back-to-back 7-pins. “Corner-pin leaves have been a concern for every bowler this week,” he said. “You just hope that you don’t see them in the finals. Unfortunately I didn’t carry when I really needed it.” Hayden wrapped up the match with a strike in the 10th, making him the sixth first-time champion on the Tour this season. He says you never would have expected him to win in his rookie season of 1997. “In my first year on Tour, I only cashed in two of the 16 tournaments I bowled,” said Hayden. “So to go from that low of a point to the winner’s circle is very rewarding.” In the semifinals, Hayden breezed past Paul Fleming, Bedford, Texas, 265-185. Couch, who qualified as the wild card, defeated qualifying leader Bob Learn Jr., Erie, Pa., 278-209, and Tommy Delutz Jr., Flushing N.Y., 223-209 in the semifinals. Couch, a 10-time winner on Tour, received $20,000 for finishing second. Fleming and Delutz took home $10,000 each for finishing third, and Learn earned $9,000 for fifth. The March to the PBA World Championship continues with the Tar Heel Open at Country Club Lanes in Burlington, N.C., Feb. 20-23. ESPN will televise the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
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Couch Coronation Continues

by PBA Editor February 14, 2003 19:00
The homecoming coronation for Jason Couch continued Saturday in the PBA VIA Bowling Open at Boardwalk Bowl. Couch, Clermont, Fla., kept the hometown crowd on the edge of their seats as he defeated Dennis Horan Jr., Temecula, Calif., 3-2 to qualify for the finals. “I think half of Clermont was out there tonight,” he said. “The pressure of bowling in front of the home folks is tough, but I enjoyed it.” The 10-time titlist has won every deciding match in the tournament, and beat Horan 246-182 in the fifth game. He is one of two lefthanders in the field of five. “I’m going to be pumped and ready to bowl tomorrow,” said Couch. “It’s a high-scoring event, and my attitude is to stay aggressive.” The other southpaw in the field is Chris Hayden, Greenville, S.C. He solidified his spot in the finals by sweeping challenger Peter Hernandez, Miami, 3-0. “It made me more comfortable knowing I was already in the show,” said Hayden, who went undefeated in match play. “My game plan for tomorrow will be to try and maintain what I’ve been doing all week.” Hayden will face Paul Fleming, Bedford, Texas, who qualified for his second consecutive finals appearance. He says his 3-2 victory over leading qualifier Bob Learn Jr. was a building block towards his longevity. “I was able to learn from the mistakes I made last week,” said Fleming. “I know have to bring it on every shot, and I know that’s what it will take to win.” Tommy Delutz Jr. advanced to his fourth finals of the season with a 3-1 victory over Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa. Delutz, a two-time winner from Flushing, N.Y., says his ready to win his first title of the season. “I’m glad I can continue to put myself in position to win, but it’s time for me to put the hammer down,” he said. “I’m in the top five in earnings, and I’ve done it without a title. I want to change that tomorrow.” Even with the loss to Fleming, Learn, Erie, Pa., qualified as the wild card, and faces Couch in the opening match. Learn is attempting to become the first player to win a title after leading the qualifying rounds. “That gives me incentive to bowl tomorrow,” he said. “If I’m going to do it, I might as well do it that way.” The five finalists will compete for the title and the $40,000 first prize Sunday. ESPN will air the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 16, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
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Couch Reaches Quarterfinals

by PBA Editor February 14, 2003 19:00
Jason Couch put his personal feelings aside as he moved one step closer to the finals of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) VIA Bowling Open at Boardwalk Bowl Saturday afternoon. Couch, Clermont, Fla., took on good friend Norm Titus, Sebring, Fla., in their Round of 16 match-up, and was again pushed to the maximum number of games before advancing to the next round. “It wasn’t that hard to put the friendship aside for a few hours,” said Couch. “I’m just glad that my ability and experience were enough for me to advance.” After splitting the first two games, Couch took a two-games-to-one lead with a 259-255 victory. Game No. 4 was even closer, as both players tied at 212. Titus won on the third, one-ball roll-off 10-9 when Couch left a solid eight pin. “I couldn’t have thrown it any better,” said Couch. “If I had that shot to throw again, I’d have it in that same area.” Couch rebounded in the elimination match, winning 224-208. He now faces Dennis Horan in the next round of match play. In other matches, Chris Hayden locked up the first of five ESPN telecast births with a sweep of Christopher Sand. His 7-0 overall record insures him of a wild card position for the finals. He will face Peter Hernandez in the Round of 8. Hernandez beat Hall of Famer Mike Aulby in five games. Leading qualifier Bob Learn Jr. moved to the next round by defeating Lonnie Waliczek, 3-2. He will face Paul Fleming, who sent Steve Hoskins to the sidelines with a 3-0 win. Tommy Delutz Jr. lost the opening game to Rick Lawrence before winning the next three games to advance to the Round of 8. He will face Michael Machuga, who dispatched Lee Johnson, 3-1. Match play will continue Saturday with best-of-five matches as the field is cut from 16, to eight, to four plus a wild card for the finals. The five finalists will compete for the title and the $40,000 first prize Sunday. ESPN will air the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 16, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
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