by PBA Editor October 29, 2008 19:00
Former Husker Michael Machuga is off to a successful start as he led the Pepsi Viper Championship first block of Round of 64 qualifying on Thursday at Thunder Alley. He finished his seven game block with 1695 pins, including a 300 in game five.
Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y. was close behind with a score of 1646 followed by Dave D’Entremont at 1632.
Mitch Beasley of Puyallup, Wash, who is currently sitting in 16th, also shot a 300 in his game six.
In the Women’s Series Round of 16, Michelle Feldman of Auburn. N.Y. currently leads the field with a score of 1526. However, Joy Esterson if Annapolis, Md. And Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix, Ariz. Are right behind with scores of 1523 and 1522, respectively.
Both the men’s and women’s fields will return for block two of qualifying tonight at 5 p.m. The men’s field will be cut to 32 and the women’s will be cut to 10.
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by PBA Editor October 28, 2008 19:00
Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y. appears to have picked up where he left off last season. Ciminelli led Wednesday’s Tournament Qualifying Round (TQR) with a 1,710 pinfall to easily earn a spot in the Pepsi Viper Championship at Thunder Alley in Omaha, Neb.
Last season, the 22-year-old made a name for himself, by advancing past five TQRs into the main field. In fact, he became only the fourth bowler to lead a TQR in back-to-back events in both the Lumber Liquidators Earl Anthony Classic in Reno and the PBA Exempt Doubles Classic in Las Vegas. Ciminelli went on to finish a career-best 10th in Medford last year.
In Wednesday’s TQR, Ciminelli bested the field by at least 67 pins.
“You always have to think that you can finish No. 1 because if you have that attitude, even if you don’t get it, but you’re close, you have a good shot of making it past the TQR,” Ciminelli said. “I never made it out (of TQR) on Viper (lane condition) before. I was 0-2 coming into this event. Last year it was the Scorpion pattern which I usually have good luck on, but I didn’t make it out.”
Ciminelli is confident that he can continue his success here in Omaha.
“The key is just for me to stay relaxed,” he said. “As soon as I get anxious, any time I had too much adrenaline, the ball would not read the lane right.”
Also earning spots in Thursday’s Round of 64 were: Rick Miller of Lincoln. Neb. with a score of 1643, Scott Newell of Deland, Fla. with 1608 pins, Lonnie Waliczek of Wichita, Kan. with a score of 1551, P.J. Haggerty of Clovis, Calif at 1546 and Jonathan Van Hees of Newport, R.I. with a score of 1530.
Thursday’s competition continues with the qualifying round of 64, cutting down the field to the top 32 players.
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by Andrew Cain October 28, 2008 19:00
Wichita. Most bowling enthusiasts know Wichita to be the home of the Wichita State Shockers, the perennial collegiate powerhouse, and the 2008 PBA World Championship (back to this in a moment). What you may not know is that the wheat fields of Kansas are also home to a few major airline manufacturers, Boeing, Cessna, and Raytheon, to name a few, and **DRUMROLL**: the cheapest gas in the country. I must admit that the prospect of my very own airplane didn’t have me jumping out of my chair (having just bought a house, I don’t think I could take the credit hit for a multi-million dollar flying machine), but $2.17 a gallon almost had me clicking my heels, grabbing Toto, and saying, “There’s no place like home” as I left the Emerald City.
Now that I have digressed enough for one morning, let’s get back to the PBA World Championship. I must first congratulate Norm Duke on winning his third major championship in-a-row. There were many compelling storylines that would have made great media fodder; a win by Steve Jaros would have made him eligible for the PBA Hall of Fame, Sean Rash could have continued his perfect PBA record on TV, and Chris Barnes could have completed the Triple Crown. However, the plot that unfolded was the one which truly defined the true PBA experience. Remember back to my first Andrew’s Angle, when I said this would be a season of firsts? If you watched Sunday’s show, you saw the first player to ever win THREE Majors in-a-row. This tournament and its ending set the right tone for our Golden Anniversary, and certainly cemented Norm Duke’s place in what another fifty years will tell us was a great moment in history. By the way, if you didn’t catch the show, either wait for a replay on ESPN Classic or do what I did (no, I’m not a bad person for missing the show…I just happened to be driving to the next stop in Omaha) and read Jason’s TV Recap.
How did my bowling turn out this week? Let me give you this brief summary: if you viewed the standings between Tuesday and Thursday, it was evident my tournament was not going well. If you didn’t pull up PBA.com until Friday, it may have appeared that I didn’t even enter the tournament at all! To translate, that is my way of admitting that I missed the cut. And I missed badly. 
Last week was certainly not my best performance. On a sliding scale, it was somewhere in between being a good “poor performance” and a decent “mediocre performance”; mostly forgettable, but with some positive outcome. My assessment from last week’s practice session was spot-on (a positive), but I just couldn’t put the whole package together. Out of 18 games of qualifying, I had three wonderfully placed games of 157, 163, and 149, all on different days. Having finished at -47, that made for 15 other frustrating games where I only managed to bowl +84. 
However, on Thursday, I drilled a Maxxx Zone that had considerably less flare potential than the ball I used on the first two days. For those who are wondering why I chose to not drill this ball after such a dismal first day start, please keep in mind that we bowled at different times of the day. I bowled Even on day one without my 157 game, which was contested on a fresh pattern at night. My reaction and score got better as the lanes became more “burned-in” (oil being pushed down the lane, essentially drying up the heads). Day two found me bowling “B” squad, which was not a fresh pattern, but leftover “burn” from “A” squad; hence my decision to stick to my initial ball choice. The result was decent ball reaction but rapidly diminishing carry at the pins. 
Let’s take a brief break to stifle the yawns in the audience. None? Then I am doing my job! My goal with this blog is not to give you blow-by-blow analysis of how I bowled, but mainly an overview with insight into some of the interesting discoveries I come across as I progress through each week on tour. This week I had a good game plan, but suffered from poor execution and some unfortunate decisions. Oh, and did I mention that I missed a few spares? Not enough to have made much difference in my final standing, but far more than normal, and enough to make my brilliant green Go RVing spare ball exhausted from spiraling past the very pins it was built to hit. 
With my week over, I had time to reflect, relax, and start getting prepared to hit the road to Omaha. Bowling itself is not the only challenge of life on tour. Figuring out what to do with all the downtime after competition ends is an equally formidable opponent. That will be a topic for another edition of Andrew’s Angle…I hope you keep reading, and please write me at Andrew@andrewcainbowling.com if you have any comments, suggestions, or simply want to Rick Roll me! In the meantime, watch us live on Xtra Frame from Omaha and PRACTICE YOUR SPARES! (You didn’t think I would totally avoid that little tidbit of wisdom, did you?)
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by Missy Bellinder October 27, 2008 19:00
Last week, the 50th Anniversary of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour kicked off in style. Many memorable events, a widely diverse field, new faces and an historic ending summed up the entire week. I was personally on-hand to witness Norm Duke in his historic quest to capture three consecutive Majors, becoming the only person in PBA history to accomplish this feat. 
After interviewing him several times throughout the week, I got an inside perspective on the thinkings and mental game of one of the greatest players in our sport. You see, Duke never once was thinking about making history. He wasn’t thinking about defending his title. He was thinking about winning and winning on bowling’s biggest platform – a PBA Major. 
“I’ve made history a few times as a by-product of not thinking about it (making history). When you get ahead of yourself, that’s when you lose your focus,” said Duke.
I was also intrigued to find out Duke’s culmination of what makes a great player. 
“Great players don’t just win titles. I have the mindset that you define your career with Major titles,” Duke said. “Great players will go down in history as players who have the ability to win Majors.”
In talking to Duke, you find out that he is a very humble individual. We reminisced about his early career when he won a title at the young age of 18, beating the great Earl Anthony in his first match on TV, in route to the title.
“Everyone wanted to beat Earl (Anthony). He was just that good, that he became a target,” said Duke. “So I told my mom that I was going out on tour and that I was going to beat Earl. Then when I ended up beating Earl on TV, with my mom sitting in the front row, it’s a memory that I’ll never forget,” added Duke. 
So I slyly asked Duke, “You do know that you are now that target? People now say I want to go out on tour and beat Norm Duke!”
“I don’t see myself that way. I don’t regard myself as being in the same category as Earl. I know that people get excited to see me and bowl with me, which happened just this week in the pro-am. But in reality I’m just a person who gets to do what I love for a living - bowl,” added Duke.
Last week’s accomplishment brings Duke’s total number of PBA titles to 30 with six Major wins, ranking him tied for fifth with bowling legend Don Carter on the all-time Majors list.
If you followed the results all week, you saw that Duke didn’t get off to a great start in qualifying. With a lower-scoring second block and just out of the projected cut to 53, Duke needed a big final set on the third day of qualifying to advance to the casher’s qualifying round (block four). From that point on, he got serious shooting +174 in block three, advancing to block four of qualifying in 23rd position. 
“Yesterday I had a bad day (block two) and today I could have been eliminated. My game plan was to have a good enough round to not have to look at that cut number.  My goal was to be proud of my play and that wasn’t the case the past two days (block one and block two).  I’m still not up to my expectations. My sights are going to be on getting to the top eight, while keeping 40th (cut number to match play) in mind. I want to be here until the end.”
And that he did! Duke opened up with an 816 the first three games of block four, shooting +362 for the 9-game block, finishing 2nd going into match play. After receiving two byes in match play for finishing in the top eight after qualifying, Duke then went 8-1 in his matches, nearly shooting 300 in game three of the Super 16 Round. Then the very next game, he threw three clutch strikes in the 10th frame to sweep Mike Scroggins shooting 278-277.      
You could see the determination in Duke’s eyes. At the verge of nearly being eliminated from the tournament, Duke then put things in high gear and never looked back. The TV show was a mere sample of Duke’s greatness. I was fortunate enough to witness and hear it first-hand.
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by PBA Editor October 27, 2008 19:00
The women take the stage on the PBA Tour this week as the 2008-09 PBA Women’s Series kicks off at the Pepsi Viper Championship at Thunder Alley in Omaha, Neb., Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
The PBA Women’s Series will feature a diverse field including veterans Carolyn Dorin-Ballard and Tennelle Milligan, fresh, young faces in Adrienne Miller and Trisha Reid, and international stars Clara Guerrero and Shalin Zulkifli, of Colombia and Malaysia, respectively.
“I think everyone can identify with at least one woman on the tour,” Zulkifli said. “We all have so many different styles and come from different backgrounds.”
The 16 exempt-bowler field was determined at the 2008 PBA Women’s Tour Trials, which were held in conjunction with the 2008 Women’s U.S. Open, a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) event. The top 12 women advanced through the PBA Women’s Tour Trials, while the four winners of last season’s events --- Diandra Asbaty, Dorin-Ballard, Joy Esterson and Shannon Pluhowsky ---  received automatic berths.
The 2008 PBA Women’s Series, which is sponsored by the USBC, marks the only opportunity for women to bowl on Tour since the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) folded in 2003. Five of the current PBA Women’s Series players were PWBA Alum ---- Dorin-Ballard, Milligan, Brenda Mack, Michelle Feldman and Shannon O’ Keefe.
The PBA Women’s Series, which debuted in 2007, proved to be so popular that the PBA increased the series to seven events as part of the 50th anniversary PBA Tour season.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Dorin-Ballard said. “I think going from four events to seven is definitely a step in the right direction.” 
The championship match of each event will be televised live on ESPN as part of the regular PBA Tour telecast. Each PBA Women’s Series event, which will run concurrently with seven Lumber Liquidators’ PBA Tour events, including this week’s Pepsi Viper Championship, will feature a $51,100 prize fund, including a $10,000 top prize.
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