Click here to view this article as a PDFThis Week
The fifth event of the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour and the third of four PBA Women’s Series events takes place at Stardust Bowl II in Merrillville, Ind., with the 2007 Lake County Indiana Classic presented by United Way, Nov. 14-18. The event, which starts Wednesday with the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round, features a single elimination match play format with the top four men and top two women competing for $25,000 and $10,000 top prizes, respectively, Sunday, Nov. 18 live at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN.
This marks the first time Stardust Bowl II will host a Denny’s PBA Tour stop after the center hosted the Denny’s PBA Tour Trials three times in the last four years as well as playing host to the PBA Regional Players Championship the past four seasons. Nearby Stardust Bowl I in Hammond, Ind., hosted a Denny’s PBA Tour stop the last two seasons with 26-time champion Norm Duke capturing last year’s Lake County Indiana Classic.
This week’s event also marks the third of four PBA Women’s Series events. The mini-tour features 16 of the greatest female bowlers in the world who earned their exemptions at the U.S. Women’s Open, a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) event. The series, which is sponsored by the USBC, will take place over two of the next three weeks, with the competition running concurrently with Denny’s PBA Tour events.Last Week
Mike Wolfe and Shannon Pluhowsky, two of the game’s rising stars, each took down one of the game’s legends to win their respective tournaments in the 2007 Etonic Championship at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, N.Y.
Wolfe, who at 31 years-old is one of the top young stars on the Denny’s PBA Tour, stopped the incredible early-season run of PBA Hall of Famer and all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., who was looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 2000. Instead, Wolfe used a four-bagger in the middle of the title match, while Williams was struggling with his carry, to capture his third Denny’s PBA Tour title with a 256-225 win. Wolfe just barely escaped his semifinal match, winning by a single pin, 236-235, after Chris Barnes left a 2-4-5 when a nine-spare and a strike would have given him the win.
Pluhowsky, meanwhile, defeated fellow left-hander and UBSC Hall of Famer Tish Johnson in the second-ever PBA Women’s Series title match. The smooth 25-year-old watched as Johnson, needing a double in the 10th, left a 6-10, and Pluhowsky escaped with a 227-217 win.This Week's Schedule
The 2007 Lake County Indiana Classic presented by United Way at Stardust Bowl II gets underway Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. with the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round followed by the official PBA Practice Session at 3:30 p.m. The top nine PBA members and the top amateur will advance to Thursday’s Round of 64, which features two seven-game qualifying blocks from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. PBA Women’s Series qualifying will also take place during that time.
The field will be cut to the top 32 men and top eight women who will advance to single elimination match play on Friday. The Round of 32 gets underway at 9 a.m. followed by the Round of 16 and the women’s Round of 8 at 2 p.m. The men’s Round of 8 and women’s Round of 4 then follow at 7 p.m. with the top four men and top two women advancing to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised finals.
Saturday is a day for the fans as PBA Pro-Ams and Fan Day take place at Stardust Bowl II Pro-Ams take place at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Sunday, the two Denny’s PBA Tour semifinal matches will take place starting at 1 p.m. EST live on ESPN. Those two matches will be followed by the title match of the 2007 PBA Women’s Series with the winner taking home $10,000. The men’s title match will then follow with a one-year Denny’s PBA Tour exemption and $25,000 on the line.Did You Know?
When he goes over the $1 million mark in career earnings this week, Mika Koivuniemi will become the second-fastest bowler in history to reach the milestone. This week is Koivuniemi’s 232nd career event, falling just shy of Chris Barnes’ record of 220 events.
Koivuniemi, who owns $998,943 in career earnings (which includes Denny’s PBA Tour and PBA Regional Tour), will earn $1,800 with a 32nd-64th place finish, which would make him just the 37th bowler in PBA history with $1 million in career earnings.Five Bowlers Out This Week
Five Denny’s PBA Tour exempt bowlers have withdrawn this week – Brad Angelo, Jeff Carter, Jason Couch, Tim Criss and Patrick Healey Jr. – giving nine spots to PBA members from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round.
Bowling in the TQRs has proven to be a good training ground for bowlers hoping to work their way onto the Tour full time. Sean Rash and Mike Mineman have taken the shortest routes the last two seasons, each winning titles the same week they qualified through a TQR. On the strength of a record nine weeks where he advanced from the TQR, Dino Castillo earned an exemption for 2007-08 as the high non-exempt bowler in the 2006-07 PBA World Point Rankings.
While their hard work didn’t pay off immediately, six bowlers used their experience from the TQRs to earn exemptions via the 2007 Denny’s PBA Tour Trials. Chad Kloss, Ronnie Russell and Troy Wollenbecker each spent the entire 2006-07 season chasing the exemption through the TQRs and while they all came up short, their experiences paid off as they finished in the top seven in Tour Trials to each earn their first career exemptions. Three other Tour Trials qualifiers – Todd Book, Steve Harman and Stevie Weber – also spent considerable time bowling the qualifying rounds.Ryan Back in the Booth This Weekend
For the second consecutive weekend, long-time PBA on ESPN play-by-play man Dave Ryan will return to the booth to join color analyst Randy Pedersen. Ryan replaced new play-by-play man Rob Stone last week because Stone’s wife is expecting twins.
Because Stone’s new twins have not yet arrived, Ryan will return to the booth for at least one more week.House Full of Memories
While Stardust Bowl II has never hosted a Denny’s PBA Tour event, 15 of the 59 exempt bowlers on the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour have fond memories of the center as they each at one point gained an exemption at Stardust Bowl II during one of three Denny’s PBA Tour Trials events that have taken place at the Merrillville, Ind., center.
In the first-ever Tour Trials event in 2004 at Stardust Bowl II, Mike Edwards led the field and has never looked back since, regaining his exemption each year through the PBA World Point Rankings. Also qualifying in 2004 were Eugene McCune, Brian Kretzer and Mike Wolfe, who are all exempt in 2007-08, although only Wolfe, like Edwards, has not needed a return Tour Trials visit.
The following year, Chris Loschetter led the field, followed by Kretzer (who needed to qualify for a second consecutive season), Dino Castillo, Ritchie Allen and Bill O’Neill. Allen would go on to win a title in 2005-06 while O’Neill was named the 2005-06 PBA Rookie of the Year. Castillo was not so lucky as he lost his exemption for 2006-07, but regained his spot for 2007-08 by leading last season’s non-exempt points race.
This season, seven bowlers who earned their exemptions for 2007-08 at Stardust Bowl II will return to the area, including Indiana natives Ronnie Russell and Steve Harman. They’ll look to parlay their positive experience in the house into Denny’s PBA Tour success.Scary Good
Although he fell in the title match last week to Mike Wolfe, Walter Ray Williams Jr. is still on a scary pace to start the 2007-08 season and at the age of 48, Williams admits he might be throwing the ball as well as he ever has.
The all-time titles leader, who started pulling away from Earl Anthony with win No. 43 two weeks ago, leads the PBA World Point Rankings by more than 30,000 points over Patrick Allen, his closest competitor.
Williams’ average currently stands at 237.19, which is more than six pins better than second-place Chris Barnes. The PBA Hall of Famer has been about as consistent as it gets, shooting 200 or better in all but two of his 60 games in match play. Overall, he has shot 200 or better in 94 of his last 96 games. One-Sided Rivalry
Part of Williams’ success is a result of how high he raises his game when facing his long-time rival Pete Weber. Last week, Williams defeated Weber in the Round of 8 for the second consecutive week and it also marked his third match play win over Weber in as many weeks. He defeated Weber in a three-game match in the losers’ bracket of the 2007 USBC Masters and then swept Weber in the Round of 8 in the 2007 Motor City Classic. Weber was able to win a game in last week’s 2007 Etonic Championship Round of 8, falling 4-1, but he was unable to get past Williams, falling to 0-7 in their last seven match-ups.
During the seven-match winning streak over Weber – which includes title match wins in the 2006 Denny’s World Championship and Dydo Japan Cup 2006 – Williams is averaging 245.69 in 26 games while Weber is averaging 215.16. Overall in their 25 years on Tour together, Williams holds an 8-2 edge in TV matches over Weber, which includes a 5-0 title match record.Johnson, Rash named BWAA Kegel Top Bowlers For October
History was made in October when for the first time the Bowlers Writers Association of America (BWAA) selected co-winners for their Bowler of the Month honor as Liz Johnson and Sean Rash shared the honors.
Johnson (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) won the U.S. Women's Open Oct. 14 at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. by defeating Shannon O'Keefe, 248-215. The victory was her 12th national title. The following week, Johnson rolled the highest three-game series (843) in the 2007 USBC Masters in Milwaukee. She finished 14th overall, the highest by any woman ever in a USBC Masters event.
Rash (Wichita, Kan.) won the 2007 USBC Masters Oct. 28 at Miller Park by defeating Steve Jaros, 269-245. The victory kept Rash's TV record perfect with a 7-0 mark in televised match play.
The Masters was Rash's first Major victory, and fourth Denny’s PBA Tour title. He bested 485 entrants and earned $100,000 plus a two-year exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour.Wiseman Third in Celebrity Standings
Danny Wiseman was invited this summer to join the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Celebrity Chase Tracker game, a friendly competition in which celebrities from the sports and entertainment world offer their predictions for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
Wiseman joined such celebrities as rappers Lil’ John and Big Boi, NFL star Shawne Merriman, USA softball star Jennie Finch, former NBA star John Salley, MLB star Johnny Damon, and Grammy Award winner Stevie Wonder.
The game has run from the first race of the Chase in September through this weekend’s season finale on Nov. 18. Wiseman sits third in the standings, behind NASCAR artist Sam Bass and Finch, and just ahead of Lil’ John and Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik.Barnes To Host Thanksgiving Event
Next week marks the third annual Chris Barnes Thanksgiving event, which will offer SMART Scholarships to one out of every 10 bowlers who participate. The event will take place Nov. 21 and Nov. 23-25 at AMF Showplace Lanes in Euless, Texas and will be sponsored by Denny’s and Columbia 300. A $1,500 scholarship is guaranteed to the top bowler in each of the two High School divisions.
The high school division features a “181 & Up” division as well as a “180 and Below” division. Girls bowling in the 181 and Up division will get six pins added to their scores, just as in international competition. Total pins carry over into the semifinals. Additionally, there will be a 5th-8th grade division in which the leaders after qualifying will advance directly to the finals and will feature a guaranteed $500 first-place prize and minimum $1,500 payout.
The format will feature four games of qualifying for the 5th-8th grade division and six games for the high school division. One out of eight bowlers will advance to the semifinals. The finals will take place Sunday for the high school division with an additional eight games. To participate, bowlers must be USBC members. For more information and for an entry form, go to www.chrisbarnestournament.com.2007-08 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Race
Thanks to his third consecutive championship round appearance, Walter Ray Williams Jr. took the lead in the 2007-08 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award race. Sean Rash is tied for second with his USBC Masters win giving him 24 points instead of the 16 winners earn in standard events. With his win last week, Mike Wolfe moved into a second-place tie with Rash.
2008 H&R Block Tournament of Champions Roster
|1.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||28|
With his win in the 2007 Etonic Championship, Mike Wolfe rose to the top of the new 52-bowler Tournament of Champions roster. The 52 bowlers include the 37 most recent Denny’s PBA Tour champions (with priority on the list going to exempt bowlers) and past Tournament of Champions winners and PBA Hall of Famers based on most recent Denny’s PBA Tour win, up to 52. Kurt Pilon is still on the bubble, thanks to his 2001 Peoria Open win.Denny’s PBA Tour Entrants
PBA Senior Tour Entrants
|1.||Mike Wolfe||Etonic Championship (11/11/07)|
|2.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Motor City Classic (11/4/07)|
|3.||Sean Rash||USBC Masters (10/28/07)|
|4.||Mika Koivuniemi||Dydo Japan Cup 2007 (9/23/07)|
|5.||Tommy Jones||PBA Tournament of Champions (4/1/07)|
|6.||Doug Kent||Denny’s World Championship (3/25/07)|
|7.||Norm Duke||Pepsi Championship (3/18/07)|
|8.||Pete Weber||64th U.S. Open (3/4/07)|
|9.||Mike Mineman||Bayer Classic (2/25/07)|
|10.||Patrick Allen||Go RVing Classic (2/18/07)|
|11.||Chris Barnes||GEICO Classic (2/11/07)|
|12.||Jason Couch||Motel 6 Classic (1/28/07)|
|13.||Wes Malott||Discover® Card Windy City Classic (11/26/06)|
|14.||Tony Reyes||Motor City Classic (11/5/06)|
|15.||Ritchie Allen||Motel 6 Phoenix Classic (1/22/06)|
|16.||Brian Himmler||Earl Anthony Medford Classic (1/8/06)|
|17.||Mike Scroggins||USBC Masters (11/20/05)|
|18.||Mike Machuga||Greater Omaha Classic (11/13/05)|
|19.||Steve Jaros||Dexter Tournament of Champions (4/10/05)|
|20.||Parker Bohn III||El Paso Classic (1/16/05)|
|21.||Danny Wiseman||USBC Masters (10/31/04)|
|22.||Robert Smith||Odor-Eaters Open (2/15/04)|
|23.||Patrick Healey Jr.||PBA Tournament of Champions (12/14/03)|
|24.||Ryan Shafer||Empire State Open (11/23/03)|
|25.||Mike DeVaney||GEICO Earl Anthony Classic (1/5/03)|
|26.||Eugene McCune||Banquet Classic (11/17/02)|
|27.||Dave D’Entremont||Wichita Open (10/13/02)|
|38.||Tommy Delutz Jr.||Long Island Open (11/18/01)|
|29.||Brian Voss||Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Classic (1/29/06)|
|30.||Jason Hurd||Pepsi Open (11/28/04)|
|31.||Rick Lawrence||BowlersParadise.com Open (11/21/04)|
|32.||Lonnie Waliczek||Odor-Eaters Open (2/26/03) |
|33.||Chris Hayden||VIA Bowling Open (2/16/03)|
|34.||Bryon Smith||USBC Masters (1/19/03)|
|35.||Randy Pedersen||Pepsi Open (11/24/02)|
|36.||Hugh Miller||Dream Bowl 2002 (9/2/02)|
|37.||Kurt Pilon||Peoria Open (9/25/01)|
PBA Regional Tour Entrants
|38.||Tom Baker||USBC Senior Masters || PBA Senior Dick Weber Invitational |
PBA Tournament of Champions Winners/PBA Hall of Famers
|39.||Scott Santos||PBA Regional Players Championship |
|40.||TBA||PBA Regional Players Invitational|
2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour Statistical Leaders
|41.||Bryan Goebel||1998 Tournament of Champions |
|42.||David Ozio||1991 Tournament of Champions|
|43.||Del Ballard Jr.||1989 Tournament of Champions|
|44.||Mark Williams||1988 Tournament of Champions|
|45.||Steve Cook||1981 Tournament of Champions|
|46.||Wayne Webb||1980 Tournament of Champions|
|47.||Johnny Petraglia||1971 Tournament of Champions|
|48.||Dave Husted||National/Senior Doubles (1/15/00)|
|49.||Ernie Schlegel||Bayer/Brunswick Touring Players Championship (11/8/95)|
|50.||Mark Roth||IOF Foresters Open (4/15/95)|
|51.||Gary Dickinson||B.P.A.A. U.S. Open (4/2/83)|
|52.||Dave Soutar||Syracuse Open (11/9/82)|
|1.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||70,881|
|2.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||40,468|
|3.||Sean Rash||Wichita, Kan.||40,304|
|4.||Mike DeVaney||Temecula, Calif.||37,618|
|5.||Steve Jaros||Yorkville, Ill.||37,419|
|6.||Eugene McCune||Munster, Ind.||37,072|
|7.||Chris Loschetter||Avon, Ohio||36,335|
|8.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||34,207|
|9.||Pete Weber||St. Ann, Mo.||33,574|
|10.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||33,214|
|1.||Sean Rash||Wichita, Kan.||$106,100|
|2.||Mika Koivuniemi||Hartland, Mich.||$59,600|
|3.||Steve Jaros||Yorkville, Ill.||$55,000|
|4.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||$55,000|
|5.||Mike Wolfe||New Albany, Ind.||$54,411|
|6.||Patrick Allen||Wesley Chapel, Fla.||$30,500|
|7.||Eugene McCune||Munster, Ind.||$18,511|
|8.||Chris Loschetter||Avon, Ohio||$12,546|
|9.||Mike DeVaney||Temecula, Calif.||$11,400|
|10.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||$11,200|
|1.||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||Ocala, Fla.||237.19|
|2.||Chris Barnes||Double Oak, Texas||231.05|
|3.||Wes Malott||Argyle, Texas||229.49|
|4.||Michael Haugen Jr.||Cave Creek, Ariz.||227.57|
|5.||Rhino Page||Topeka, Kan||227.45|
|6.||Chris Loschetter||Avon, Ohio||227.01|
|7.||Jack Jurek||Lackawanna, N.Y.||226.81|
|8.||Mike Wolfe||New Albany, Ind.||225.78|
|9.||Norm Duke||Clermont, Fla.||224.95|
|10.||Mike DeVaney||Temecula, Calif.||224.65|