A Family Affair

by PBA Editor November 1, 2007 19:00
Friday night was a memorable night for the Dorin-Lizzi-Ballard family.

As the Denny’s PBA Tour and the brand new PBA Women’s Series come together for the first time, the merger of men’s and women’s bowling is paying big dividends for Jeff Lizzi and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, the brother- and sister- in law who both made the championship round of their respective tournaments in the 2007 Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes.

Dorin-Ballard, whose sister Cathy is married to Lizzi, a Denny’s PBA Tour titlist, nearly fired a 300 game in finishing off Liz Johnson, four-games-to-none, to advance to the finals in the first PBA Women’s Series event.

With the aid of a 279-215 win over Johnson in game four, Dorin-Ballard (N. Richland Hills, Texas) proved she is taking her dominance from the now-defunct Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour, where she won 20 titles, to the all new women’s mini-tour, which is being sponsored by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).

Her brother-in-law, Jeff, will be the feel-good story of Sunday’s finals as the non-exempt bowler advanced to his first championship round since 2003. Lizzi, who has not bowled full-time in many years, will look for his first title since the 1992 Brunswick Memorial World Open which came in his first career championship round. Should Lizzi win the title, he would break the record for most time between Denny’s PBA Tour titles.

“The last five years I’ve just bowled the events that are close to home. In fact, the last time I bowled a PBA event was last year in Grand Rapids where I was in the same position, bowling Danny Wiseman in the World Championship for a spot on the show,” Lizzi (Sandusky, Ohio) said. “I wasn’t going to bowl this week but my wife entered me in the event. I didn’t know if I wanted to but she said ‘Come on, it’s only an hour and a half away.’ Thank god she did. Hopefully I can finish it out.”

Lizzi will have the unenviable task of facing all-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., who defeated fellow PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber, 4-0. Williams has now won six consecutive matches against Weber over the last three seasons, a streak that included his record-tying and record-breaking titles in the 2006 Denny’s World Championship and the Dydo Japan Cup 2007, respectively.

Williams has been a thorn in Weber’s side throughout their 25 years on Tour together, compiling an 8-2 record on television against the 34-time champion, which includes a 5-0 record in title matches.

“I think about it a lot,” Williams said about his advantage over Weber. “From my end, it’s awesome. Pete is one of the greatest players in the world and for whatever reason I’ve got his number badly.”

Williams (Ocala, Fla.) escaped a tough battle with Tommy Delutz Jr. in the Round of 16, winning in a game seven roll-off after they tied at 268 in the deciding game. After both players struck with their first four shots in the roll-off, Williams struck again while Delutz left a solid 10-pin to give Williams the 50-49 roll-off victory.

The winner of the Lizzi-Williams match will face either Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) or Mika Koivuniemi, who both won their Round of 8 matches, 4-2. McCune, who defeated Mike DeVaney, will look for his second career title while Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.), who took down Chris Loschetter, will be vying to become the first two-time winner in 2007-08.

Dorin-Ballard, meanwhile, will face top-seed Missy Bellinder. Bellinder (Fullerton, Calif.) is the only woman ever to win two PBA Regional Tour events.

The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. EST at Taylor Lanes. The two men’s semifinals take place first followed by the women’s title match, which will award the winner $10,000. The men’s title match follows with the winner taking home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.
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Bellinder, Williams Earn Top Seeds

by PBA Editor October 31, 2007 19:00
He has the most titles in Denny’s PBA history, but at the age of 48, Walter Ray Williams Jr. might be as good as he’s ever been.

Williams earned the top seed for match play in the 2007 Motor City Classic, finishing with a 3,354 14-game pinfall and a 239.57 average Thursday at Taylor Lanes.

Last week, Williams finished fourth in the 2007 USBC Masters, the first of four Majors on the 2007-08 Tour. With 42 titles and seven Majors, the PBA Hall of Famer is looking to pile onto his already unmatched resume.

“I bowled really well last week but I just didn’t bowl the absolute best game I could have on Sunday,” Williams (Ocala, Fla.) said. “I out-averaged everyone by 10 pins in match play, but I lost early so I didn’t get the top seed. My carry has been phenomenal though. I haven’t thrown the ball as well as I need to, but when the ball is in the pocket they all fall down and that’s a lot of fun.”

Williams has yet to win a title since breaking Earl Anthony’s all-time record in the opening even of the 2006-07 season, but he has made five championship rounds since then. On Thursday, he averaged 245.57 in the first block and 233.57 over the final seven games to take the lead from first block leader Wes Malott.

Williams will face No. 32 Stevie Weber (Chalmette, La.) in the Round of 32 Friday. Weber, who finished sixth in last week’s USBC Masters in his first event as an exempt bowler, earned the final spot in match play with a 259 in his final game to finish four pins ahead of Michael Haugen Jr. (Cave Creek, Ariz.).

The 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year Doug Kent finished second with 3,324 and will face No. 31 Norm Duke, who finished second to Kent in last season’s Player of the Year vote. Duke (Clermont, Fla.) led the Tour with three titles last season, but Kent (Newark, N.Y.) became just the sixth bowler in history to win two Majors in a season to earn the edge. Duke moved up from 58th after the first seven games by averaging 235.86 over the final seven games.

Finishing third was the 2005-06 PBA Player of the Year, Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.), who will face No. 30 Brad Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.).

Defending champion Tony Reyes (San Bruno, Calif.) remained in the hunt, moving up 12 spots in the standings over the final seven games to finish 20th. He will face No. 13 Jeff Lizzi (Sandusky, Ohio).

Running simultaneously with the Denny’s PBA Tour event is the first-ever PBA Women’s Series event which is sponsored by the USBC. The series features 16 women who will bowl four of the next five events alongside then men, but in separate tournaments. It is the first tour for women since the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) folded in 2003.

First block leader Missy Bellinder (Fullerton, Calif.) maintained her lead to earn the No. 1 seed for match play and will face No. 8 Olivia Sandham (Wichita, Kan.). The top eight women advanced to Friday.

Also advancing on the women’s side were 20-time PWBA titlist Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, who finished second. Liz Johnson (Cheektowaga, N.Y) and Kelly Kulick (Union, N.J.) finished third and fourth, respectively.

The Round of 32 on the men’s side gets underway at 9 a.m. followed by the Round of 16 and the women’s Round of 8 at 2 p.m. At 7 p.m., the men’s Round of 8 and women’s Round of 4 take place which will determine the six bowlers who will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised finals at 1 p.m. EST. The PBA Women’s Series champion will receive $10,000 while the Denny’s PBA Tour champion will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.

300 games (3) - Kelly Kulick, Michael Fagan, Curtis Woods Jr.
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Bellinder Leads First Block

by PBA Editor October 31, 2007 19:00
Though she will be competing with her fellow female bowlers four out of the next five weeks, Missy Bellinder knows her experience bowling against the men will come in handy in this year’s PBA Women’s Series.

Bellinder took the lead after the first block of the Round of 16 in the first-ever PBA Women’s Series event, finishing the first seven games with a 1,677 seven-game pinfall and a 239.57 average in the 2007 Motor City Classic Women’s Series at Taylor Lanes.

The 25-year-old was the first woman to join the PBA when the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) folded in 2003. She has gone on to make history bowling against the men, becoming the first woman to win two PBA Regional Tour events.

Bellinder finished 10th in the PBA Women’s Tour Trials this summer, which ran in conjunction with the U.S. Women’s Open, a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) event. The finish gave her one of 16 exemptions for the new PBA Women’s Series, which features four events over the next five weeks, all of which run concurrently with Denny’s PBA Tour events.

“Bowling with the men has definitely helped me,” Bellinder (Fullerton, Calif.) said. “The experience I gained in regionals of knowing how the guys break down the lanes and knowing how the lanes transition makes a big difference, especially because we’re crossing with them during qualifying.”

On Thursday, Bellinder started strong with a 258 but dipped down to a 198 in game two. She then shot 264 and 258 over the next two games but a 185 in game five dropped her back down in the standings. She finished strong with a 236 and a 278 in the final two games to take the lead.

“I’m pretty comfortable out there. I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard at all and was just focusing on what I was doing and taking it one shot at a time,” Bellinder said. “I’ve worked hard knowing we only have four tournaments. It’s going to be exciting. We have something to bowl in and that’s awesome.”

Two other women who have made history bowling alongside the men sit second and third in the standings. Liz Johnson, a pioneer who was the first woman to advance to a Denny’s PBA Tour event, the first woman to make a championship round in a Denny’s PBA Tour event, and the first women to win a PBA Regional Tour event, is second with 1,651. Kelly Kulick, who last season became the first woman to earn a full-season exemption on the Denny’s PBA Tour, is third with 1,649. Johnson (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) and Kulick (Union, N.J.) also won both women’s Major events this summer with Kulick taking the USBC Queens and Johnson recently winning the U.S. Women’s Open.

Amy Stolz (Castle Rock, Colo.) is fourth with 1,537 while 20-time PWBA champion Carolyn Dorin-Ballard (N. Richland Hills, Texas) is fifth with 1,528.

All 16 bowlers return tonight at 5 p.m. EST for another seven-game block after which the field will be cut to the top 8. The final two will bowl for the $10,000 top prize at Taylor Lanes live on ESPN on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. EST.
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Trick or Treat?

by PBA Editor October 31, 2007 19:00
Although most Denny’s PBA Tour bowlers were in Taylor, Mich., Wednesday night, it didn’t stop their kids from dressing up for Halloween. Below is a list of some of the exempt bowlers’ kids' costumes for their night of trick-or-treating:

Curtis Woods Jr.Daughter, AshtynAriel (Little Mermaid)
Tommy JonesDaughter, EllaWhite cat
Robert SmithDaughter, KaylaPirate
Mike DeVaneySon, OwenPumpkin and Ghost
Mike ScrogginsDaughter, MaggiePrincess
Son, RossWerewolf
Son, WillPirate
Dino CastilloSon, ReidSpiderman
Wes MalottSon, JordanHulk
Son, CamdenGhost
Brian KretzerSon, MasonHunter
Daughter, MadisonSomething scary
Grandson, RudyLion
Brian HimmlerDaughter, KylieBig Pumpkin
Steve JarosSon, EvanDarth Vader
Daughter, HannahScary spider ghost
Ronnie RussellDaughter, CaydenLion
Son, CameronDiego (From Go, Diego, Go)
Chris BarnesSon, TroyThe Thing (Fantastic Four)
Son, RyanWolverine
Norm DukeSon, BrandenGladiator
Doug KentDaughter, NatalieMinnie Mouse
Brad AngeloSon, DylanMotocross Racer
Daughter, BrielleAriel (Little Mermaid)
Parker Bohn IIISon, JustinDonald Duck
Son, BrandonMickey Mouse
Daughter, SydneyMinnie Mouse
Del and Carolyn Dorin-BallardDaughter, AlyssaScooby Doo
Mike WolfeHimselfSumo Wrestler
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Malott, Bellinder Lead First Block

by PBA Editor October 31, 2007 19:00
Wes Malott knows if he’s going to win the coveted PBA Player of the Year award at any point in his career, it’s not going to be a result of his performance in the Round of 64 or in match play.

Still, Malott continues to show he’s one of the most consistent bowlers week in and week out on the Denny’s PBA Tour, taking the lead with a 1,732 seven-game pinfall and a 247.43 average after the first block of the Round of 64 in the 2007 Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes.

Last season, Malott led the Tour in match play appearances and championship round appearances and finished first in the PBA World Point Rankings, but was just third in the 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year voting after winning just one title. This season, he knows it’s all about what he does on Sundays.

“Not winning Player of the Year last year wasn’t based off my performances throughout the week. The thing I have to work on is once I get to TV, I need to do a better job of understanding the moves, the lights and the heat that the TV show creates,” Malott (Argyle, Texas) said. “It’s a totally different ball game. I just have to learn how to play the lanes and understand what balls I’m going to need. It’s another learning curve of being a professional bowler out here.”

The two-time Denny’s PBA Tour titlist, who finished seventh in last week’s 2007 USBC Masters, was a model of consistency on Thursday, never shooting a game below 223. He finished with games of 277 and 259 to take the lead. He has a history of starting each season strongly, winning the third event of the 2005-06 season and the sixth event last season.

“The summer time allows me to get my body refreshed and get on top of my game,” said Malott, whose wife, Maryiedth gave birth to the couple’s second son this summer. “As the season goes on, it’s tough to be out here physically and mentally. You have to stay on top of your game and I’m going to try and get home a lot over this season, especially with the new baby and because Jordan just started tee ball. I don’t want to miss out on some of those special moments. That’s going to help me rebound week after week.”

All-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. (Ocala, Fla.) is second after seven games with 1,719 while 2005-06 PBA Player of the Year Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) is third with 1,708. Mike Edwards (Tulsa, Okla.) who advanced to the championship round in last season’s Motor City Classic, is fourth with 1,685 while 22-year-old Edward VanDaniker Jr. (Essex, Md.) is fifth with 1,658. VanDaniker advanced from Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round.

Defending champion Tony Reyes (San Bruno, Calif.) is right on the cut line in 32nd with 1,535. The top 32 advance to Friday’s match play.

All 64 bowlers return tonight at 5 p.m. EST for another seven-game block after which the field will be cut to the top 32. The final four bowlers will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised finals at 1 p.m. EST at Taylor Lanes. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.

To read the Women's Series story click here
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