South Korea’s Gu Pulls Off Stunning Upset to Win PBA Scorpion Championship

by Bill Vint December 19, 2010 06:27

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Yong-Jin Gu, a slightly-built 48-year-old left-hander, had never bowled in a Professional Bowlers Association event before the World Series of Bowling, but he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in PBA history when he defeated an international field of opponents to win the PBA Scorpion Championship at South Point Bowling Center.

The finals of the PBA Scorpion Championship aired Sunday on ESPN. It was the first Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour television final ever to include four international players and only one American.

Gu (pronounced “coo”) upset four straight opponents, including top qualifier Jun-Yung Kim, 236-224, in the all-South Korea championship match, to become the first South Korean ever to win a PBA Tour event.

In a stunning finish, Gu held a 10-pin lead entering the ninth frame, but he missed a 7 pin spare conversion to surrender his lead. Needing a nine-count spare and strike to win, Kim then left a pocket 7-10 split on his first shot in the 10th frame to hand the victory back to Gu.

Gu started the stepladder finals with a 245-204 victory over former Saginaw Valley State collegiate All-American Dan MacLelland of Windsor, Ontario, throwing strikes on seven of his first nine shots. In his second match, Gu routed 2010 Pepsi Viper Champion Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., 256-208, again striking on eight of his first 10 shots. He then romped to a 233-208 victory over Australia’s two-handed star, Jason Belmonte, throwing seven strikes in eight tries. Gu had his first open frame in the 10th against Belmonte, but by that time he had already clinched a trip to the final match.

“I can’t even say how happy I am,” Gu said through an interpreter. “This was my first trip to the United States. Winning wasn’t even in my dreams.”

Regarding his first-ever shot on television, Gu said, “I didn’t feel anything. I just threw the shot.” But he quickly showed high-pitched emotions which followed virtually every strike. “It’s what we call showmanship in Korea,” he said. “It helps me relieve my stress before the next shot.”

Gu, who idolizes PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke “because he’s small like me,” had no idea what kind of reception awaited him upon his return home, but he had already learned he and Kim had become instant national celebrities simply by qualifying for the American television finals. South Korea’s leading newspaper, television network and bowling magazine immediately flew representatives to the U.S. to cover the finals.

Kim, who realized Gu had given him an opening when he missed the 7 pin, said his immediate reaction after leaving the 7-10 split was, “I lost. My shot in the 10th went farther right than I wanted. It was a good shot, but not the one I wanted to throw.”

The GEICO Shark Championship, the final World Series of Bowling “animal pattern” event, will air on ESPN next Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern. The Shark stepladder finalists will be the first in PBA Tour history to feature two two-handed competitors: Finland’s Osku Palermaa and Belmonte. Also in the finals will be Mike Fagan of Patchogue, N.Y.; reigning PBA World Champion Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., and MacLelland, the top qualifier.

The sixth and final World Series of Bowling telecast will be a special U.S.A. vs. The World team competition which will air on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 9, at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Free post-finals interviews and other World Series of Bowling special features are available on PBA’s Xtra Frame video streaming service. Visit or to access Xtra Frame. Full year and monthly subscriptions to Xtra Frame are available. During the month of December, PBA fans can sign up for a free trial offer to watch all Xtra Frame programming.

South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 19

Final Standings
1, Yong-Jin Gu, South Korea, four games (970 pins), $15,000.
2, Jun-Yung Kim, South Korea, one game (224), $8,000.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, one game (208), $6,000.
4, Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa., one game (208), $5,000.
5, Dan MacLelland, Canada, one game (204), $4,000.

Stepladder Results:
Match One: Gu def. MacLelland, 245-204.
Match Two: Gu def. O’Neill, 256-208.
Semifinal Match: Gu def. Belmonte, 233-208.
Championship: Gu def. Kim, 236-224.

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PBA Tournament of Champions Re-visited: Dave Davis defeats Don Johnson to win in 1968

by Jerry Schneider December 17, 2010 02:48

(Editor’s Note: One of bowling’s greatest traditions will return network television when the finals of the record $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions airs live on ABC on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern from Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas. Some of the most historic moments in professional bowling took place in the PBA’s signature event. In advance of the 2011 renewal of the Tournament of Champions, the PBA is providing a look back at some of these great moments through re-release of selected tournament summaries exactly as they were distributed by PBA’s media relations staff in years past. Below is a trip back in time as we re-visit the 1968 Tournament of Champions that featured a memorable championship match between all-time greats Dave Davis and Don Johnson.)


Riviera Lanes, Akron, Ohio, Apr 1-6, 1968

Davis Is "Champs" Champ

Dave Davis didn't see the $25,000 ball he threw in his 213-205 victory over Don Johnson in the $100,000 Firestone Tournament of Champions at Riviera Lanes in Akron, Ohio ---- He was afraid to look.

It was the wrap-up in the richest of all bowling tournaments. Davis needed a mark in the tenth frame to take home the $25,000 first-place check. He threw his first ball and a solid seven defied the strike. The 6-3, 150-pounder stood on the approach ready to throw his second ball and knowing he needed that one pin for victory. He took off on his approach and HORRORS! . . . he hit his ankle on the down-swing. Fortunately . . . for Davis . . . it hung on and he got his mark.

While Davis was taking bows as king of the 48 champions, Johnson was knee-deep in sympathizers. For the second straight year he had come so close and yet finished so far away. And, it was the pin that Davis refused to watch, the seven, that proved his downfall for the second year in a row.

Not that Johnson missed "the critter," as he put it. But in the seventh frame when he was working on three strikes in a row, he threw what he thought was the fourth and the seven pin didn't wiggle.

As the qualifying leader, Davis "rested" while the other four finalists shot down each other. Dick Weber, the perennial finalist, was the first victim as he lost a 236-223 decision to Johnson. Johnson then humbled Bill Tucker, 195-187.

Enter Jim Stefanich, the defending champion. Jim was just as bad as he had been good the year before when he set 13 records on his way to the title. Four big splits produced a 145 game while Johnson tallied 201.

The stage was set and Davis strode into the picture. He and Johnson played even for the first five frames. Then from the sixth through the eighth Johnson turkeyed. But Davis went strike, strike, spare, strike to set the stage for the seven pin high jinks in the tenth frame.

In the meantime, Johnson ran into a four-six-ten split which washed him out. The Kokomo Kid was non-committal about his sour luck for the second straight year. Of course, the $12,500 second-place check salved his wound.

Stefanich, who just the year before celebrated putting $25,000 in the bank, picked up $6,500 for third, Tucker won $3,500 for fourth and Weber got $2,500 for fifth place.

"Firestone Week" was a typical plush affair which started with the Dinner of Champions Monday night at Firestone Country Club.

And, the girls had their shot in the sun. While the champions were being feted at the Firestone Country Club, Mrs. Lorraine Stitzlein was hosting the wives of the champs and Firestone officials at a gala dinner party. Mrs. Roone Arledge, wife of the president of ABC-Television sports, was one of the guest speakers.


Pos. Name, City/State Amount

1 Dave Davis, Phoenix, Ariz., $25,000

2 Don Johnson, Kokomo, Ind., 12,500

3 Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill., 6,500

4 Bill Tucker, Los Angeles, Calif., 3,500

5 Dick Weber, St. Louis, Mo., 2,500

PLAYOFF RESULTS-Johnson defeated Weber, 236-223; Johnson defeated Tucker, 195187; Johnson defeated Stefanich, 201-145, and Davis defeated Johnson, 213-205, in the final game for the championship.


Name, City/State Pins WLT + Tot Amt

1, Dave Davis, Phoenix, Ariz., 10,194, 16-7-1, 825, 11,019

2, Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill., 10,158, 16-8-0, 800, 10,958

3, Bill Tucker, Los Angeles, Calif., 10,293, 13-11-0, 650, 10,943

4, Dick Weber, St. Louis, Mo., 10,071, 14-10-0, 700, 10,771

5, Don Johnson, Kokomo, Ind., 10,034, 14-10-0, 700, 10,734

*6, Jim Godman, Hayward, Calif., 10,002, 4-10-0, 700, 10,702, $2,050

7, Wayne Zahn, Atlanta, Ga., 9,960, 13-11-0, 650, 10,610, 1,700

8, Jim St. John, San Jose, Calif., 9,850, 14-9-1, 725, 10,575, 1,600

9, Joe Joseph, Lansing, Mich., 9,867, 14-10-0, 700, 10,567, 1,500

10, Mike Limongello, Babylon, N.Y., 10,035,10-13-1, 525, 10,560, 1,450

11, Mike Durbin, Costa Mesa, Calif., 9,836, 14-10-0, 700, 10,536, 1,400

12, Pete Tountas, Tucson, Ariz., 9,859, 11-12-1, 575, 10,434, 1,375

13, Bud Horn, Los Angeles, Calif., 9,906, 10-14-0, 500, 10,406, 1,350

14, John Guenther, Seattle, Wash. , 9,737, 13-11-0, 650, 10,387, 1,325

15, Vern Downing, San Francisco, Calif., 9,551, 15-8-1, 775, 10,326, 1,300

16, Sam Baca, Hayward, Calif., 9,904, 8-16-0, 400, 10,304, 1,275

17, Teata Semiz, River Edge, N. J., 9,579, 14-10-0, 700, 10,279, 1,250

18, Dick Ritger, Hartford, Wis., 9,692, 10-14-0, 500, 10,192, 1,225

19, Skee Foremsky, El Paso, Tex., 9,614, 10-14-0, 500, 10,114, 1,200

20, Nelson Burton, Jr., St. Louis, Mo., 9,652, 8-16-0, 400, 10,052, 1,175

21, Harry Smith, Fresno, Calif., 9,442, 12-12-0, 600, 10,042, 1,150

22, Bill Allen, Orlando, Fla., 9,556, 9-15-0, 450, 10,006, 1,125

23, Ralph Engan, Monsey, N. Y. , 9,536, 8-15-1, 425, 9,961, 1,100

24, Billy Welu, St. Louis, Mo., 9,321, 5-19-0, 250, 9,571, 1,075


Pos. Name, City/State Total Amount

25, Les Schissler, Denver, Colo., 4,764, $1,000

**26, Jack Biondolillo, Houston, Tex., 4,761, 1,075

27, Don Helling, St. Louis, Mo., 4,754, 1,000

28, Dave Soutar, Detroit, Mich., 4,747, 1,000

29, Don Carter, Tarzana, Calif., 4,741, 1,000

30, Carmen Salvino, Chicago, Ill., 4,733, 1,000

31, Earl Johnson, St. Paul, Minn. ,4,723, 1,000

32, Tom Harnisch, Buffalo, N.Y., 4,718, 1,000

33, Tim Harahan, Encino, Calif., 4,710, 1,000

34, Buzz Fazio, Delton, Mich., 4,695, 1,000

35, Ray Bluth, St. Louis, Mo., 4,683, 1,000

36, Bill Lillard, Dallas, Tex., 4,682, 1,000

37, Glenn Allison, Los Angeles, Calif., 4,680, 1,000

38, Bob Strampe, Detroit, Mich. 4,677, 1,000

33, Billy Hardwick, Louisville, Ky., 4,676, 1,000

40, Johnny Meyer, Lake Ronkonkoma N.Y., 4,640, 1,000

41, Gene Rhoda, Valparaiso, Ind., 4,588, 1,000

42, Barry Asher, Santa Ana, Calif. 4,570 1,000

43, George Howard, Kalamazoo, Mich., 4,550, 1,000

44, Dennis Chapis, St. Louis, Mo., 4,547, 1,000

45, Gary Martineau,, Nashville, Tenn. 4498 1,000

46, Butch Gearhart, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 4,366, 1,000

47, Billy Golembiewski, Detroit, Mich., 4,359, 1,000

48, Lou Scalia, Hollywood, Fla., 4,303, 1,000

**Alternate-Jack Biondolillo dropped out. Welu & Biondolillo each received $1,075. 24th Place Low-Teata Semiz, 4,771. 24-Game Qualifying Leader-Dave Davis, 5158. Pro-Am Cashers-$50-Dick Weber, Nelson Burton, Jr., Glenn Allison, Mike Durbin, Carmen, Salvino, Les Schissler.


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Oregon’s Bryon Smith Wins PBA Regional Players Invitational, Tournament of Champions “Elite” Berth

by Bill Vint December 16, 2010 13:17

RENO, Nev. – Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., dominated the match play finals Thursday to win the Sands Regency PBA Regional Players Invitational at the National Bowling Stadium.

Smith, a former PBA Tour exempt player, returned to the center where he won his only title – the 2003 United States Bowling Congress Masters – to post an 11-5 match play record for a 37-game total of 8,290 pins, including match play bonus pins, for a 25-pin victory over Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa.

As Sands Regency PBA Regional Players Invitational champion, Smith earned $6,000 and an automatic
“Elite” field berth in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas Jan. 15-22.

“It’s been awhile since I won against a field with this many bowlers from across the country,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling.”

Smith declined the opportunity to bowl for one of seven exemptions to bowl on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour during the 2011-12 season. The seven players who earned PBA Tour exemptions were Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa; Wayne Garber, Modesto, Calif.; Tyler Jensen, Fort Worth, Texas; Kerry Painter, Henderson, Nev.; Johnathan Bower, Middletown, Pa.; Paul Gibson, Brunswick, Ohio, and Steven Black, Phoenix.

“I bowl when I feel like it these days,” Smith said. “I enjoy the competition, but I didn’t declare for a PBA Tour exemption because I’m not interested in bowling full-time any more. I’ll bowl in the Tournament of Champions and the USBC Masters, and maybe the U.S. Open. We’ll see how I do in the Tournament of Champions and Masters first.

“I’ve bowled in the Tournament of Champions before,” he added. “I’ve done OK. Not as well as I’d like, but it’s nice to have a spot in the Elite field, which means I won’t have to bowl the qualifying round. It’s without a doubt the biggest tournament of the year, but I’ll just try to be patient and bowl well. I know I’m as good as anyone else when I’m playing well, so we’ll see what happens.”

The PBA Regional Players Invitational was open to players who qualified among the competition point leaders in their respective regions during the 2009-10 season.

National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Dec. 16

(After 37 games, including match play records and bonus pins; top seven designated “e-“ earned exemptions to bowl on the 2011-12 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour)
1, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 11-5, 8,290, $6,000.
2, e-Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 11-5, 8,265, $3,500.
3, Dave Wodka, Chatsworth, Calif., 11-5, 8,253, $2,500.
4, e-Wayne Garber, Modesto, Calif., 12-4, 8,226, $2,000.
5, e-Tyler Jensen, Fort Worth, Texas, 7-8-1, 8,184, $1,750.
6, Jason Wojnar, Chicago, 7-9, 8,164, $1,500.
7, Tony Reyes, San Bruno, Calif., 9-7, 8,155, $1,400.
8, e-Kerry Painter, Henderson, Nev., 8-8, 7,976, $1,300.
9, Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Twp., Mich., 6-10, 7,959, $1,200.
10, e-Johnathan Bower, Middletown, Pa., 8-8, 7,932, $1,100.
11, e-Paul Gibson, Brunswick, Ohio, 7-9, 7,927, $1,000.
12, e-Steven Black, Phoenix, 7-9, 7,735, $900.
13, Gary Faulkner, Norfolk, Va., 5-11, 7,706, $850.
14, Jon Brandon, Santa Clarita, Calif., 6-10, 7,691, $825.
15, Quinton Bohlen, Decorah, Iowa, 6-9-1, 7,675, $800.
16, Billy Oatman, Cleveland, 6-10, 7,659, $775. 

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PBA Spare Shots: AT&T U-verse Sports Airs Feature on Tournament of Champions Titlist Kelly Kulick

by Bill Vint December 16, 2010 09:01

AT&T U-verse, AT&T’s cable network serving nearly three million wireless subscribers, has debuted a three-part feature on 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions winner Kelly Kulick. The magazine-style feature profiles Kulick’s historic victory at Red Rock Lanes in January 2010 and includes a segment about her family life which reveals the values and dedication that have become hallmarks of her bowling career. A third part, which was shot during the PBA World Series of Bowling, basically asks, what’s next?

The AT&T U-verse Sports feature, which can be viewed at no cost on AT&T U-verse’s web site, not only provides unique insight into today’s most accomplished woman bowler, but presents professional bowling in a highly favorable light as the demanding sport it is.

The AT&T U-verse SPORTS presentation can be found at It also airs on AT&T U-verse’s cable network and on AT&T’s mobile phone system.

Kulick will return to Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas Jan. 15-22 to defend her title, but this time the stakes are much higher: $250,000 to win. And the competition will be even more intense. Every PBA member who has ever won a title is eligible to compete for shares of the record $1 million prize fund. The finals will return to ABC Sports – after a 14-year absence – on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.


Tim Mack of Indianapolis has won lots of titles around the world, but was missing a PBA title until his 242-165 victory over Jason Tehee of Fresno, Calif., in the PBA Sands Regency Tri-Regional Non-Champions Tournament at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 3.

With his first PBA title, Mack became eligible to compete for the $250,000 first prize in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions Jan. 15-22 at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas, and immediately filed his entry.

The Tri-Regional Non-Champions event was one of three Tri-Regional events held at the Stadium in advance of this week’s PBA Regional Players Invitational. In the standard Sands Regency Tri-Regional which ended Monday, Jon Brandon of Newhall, Calif., defeated Thomas Ault Jr., Portland, Ore., 9-8 in a sudden-death roll-off after they tied at 233-233 in the title match. Brandon won $2,300.

Howard Partell of Las Vegas won the Sands Regional Senior Tri-Regional title, defeating Jim Murtishaw of Menifee, Calif., 244-238, in the battle for the $1,500 first prize.


Two-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour champion Mike Fagan of Patchogue, N.Y., joined a group of stars from a number of sports at the 13th annual March of Dimes New York Chapter’s Chairman’s Club Dinner on Dec. 2 at the Marriott East Side Hotel in New York.

The “Champions for Babies” dinner brought together 200 people from the fields of business, retail, insurance, sports, and more to raise money for the March of Dimes’ programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy. The evening included silent and live auctions, sport-themed food stations and interactive sports areas hosted by star athletes. Fagan manned a Wii bowling station where he challenged other sports stars to games of Wii Bowling “even though I’m not very good at it,” he said.

The dinner was hosted by CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel. Among the athletes attending were Carl Banks (NFL), Gerry Cooney (boxing), Darryl Dawkins (NBA), Gigi Fernandez (tennis), Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde (boxing), Cullen Jones (swimming), Bob Lanier (NBA), Doug Mauch (PGA), Dikembe Mutombo (NBA), Nicole Powell (WNBA), JoJo Starbuck (figure skating), and Kerri Strug (gymnastics).

"It was a special night for a great cause,” Fagan said. “I’m proud to support the March of Dimes."


Baltimore’s Danny Wiseman is the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour’s No. 1 auto racing fan, but he could only manage a seventh-place finish in the Celebrity Chase Tracker fantasy game, in which a group of noted celebrities tried to pick winners during the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark won the celebrity “pick ‘em” contest over internationally-known chef Emeril Lagasse. The Gracious Few rock band finished third.

Wiseman did finish ahead of such celebrities as chef Mario Batali, author Janet Evanowich, former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, and former American Idol singing star Katharine McPhee among others.

“I should have just gone with (five-time NASCAR points champion) Jimmy Johnson,” lamented Wiseman, who finished third in the contest a year earlier.

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Oregon’s Bryon Smith Leads PBA Regional Players Invitational Field into Thursday Night’s Final Round

by Jason Thomas December 16, 2010 08:27

RENO, Nev. – Former PBA Tour exempt player Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., posted a 7-1 match play record to take the lead after 29 games in the 42nd PBA Regional Players Invitational presented by the Sands Regency Thursday afternoon at the National Bowling Stadium.

Smith, who won his only PBA Tour title in the 2003 USBC Masters at the Stadium, finished the first of two round-robin match play rounds with 6,562 pins and a 58-pin leader over Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa.

The 16 surviving RPI players will bowl a final eight-game match play round Thursday evening. In addition to the title and an “Elite” field berth in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions Jan. 15-22 at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas are seven exemptions to bowl on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour during the 2011-12 season. Hess is the leader among players who paid the optional entry fee to bowl for PBA Tour exemptions.

National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Dec. 16

Match Play Round One Standings
(after 29 games, including match play bonus pins)

1, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 7-1, 6,562.
2, e-Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 5-3, 6,504.
3, Dave Wodka, Chatsworth, Calif., 6-2, 6,482.
4, Jason Wojnar, Chicago, 4-4, 6,461.
5, e-Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 2-5-1, 6,420.
6, Tony Reyes, San Bruno, Calif., 3-5, 6,273.
7, e-Wayne Garber, Modesto, Calif., 5-3, 6,269.
8, Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Twp, Mich., 4-4, 6,256.
9, e-Paul Gibson, Brunswick, Ohio, 4-4, 6,256.
10, e-Billy Oatman, Cleveland, Ohio, 5-3, 6,210.
11, e-Kerry Painter, Henderson, Nev., 4-4, 6,204.
12, e-Johnathan Bower, Middletown, Pa., 3-5, 6,139.
13, Gary Faulkner, Norfolk, Va., 3-5, 6,095.
14, e-Steven Black, Phoenix, Ariz., 3-5, 6,050.
15, e-Jon Brandon, Newhall, Calif., 2-6, 6,044.
16, Quinton Bohlen, Decorah, Iowa, 3-4-1, 6,016.
e-denotes those competing for 2011-12 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exemptions

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