LAS VEGAS – Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, captured the top qualifying position for the PBA World Championship, the concluding event of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI, by 118 pins over Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday at South Point Bowling Center.
Malott, Fagan, Ronnie Russell of Marion, Indiana; Todd Book of Russells Point, Ohio, and Stuart Williams of England will return to South Point’s new 60-lane Bowling Plaza for the live ESPN stepladder finals on Sunday, Jan. 11. The World Championship is officially the third and final major championship of the PBA’s 2014 season.
Malott, a 38-year-old nine-time PBA Tour champion, averaged 229.44 over 52 games conducted on five different lane conditions to pace the World Championship qualifiers with a 12,381 pinfall total, 118 pins ahead of Fagan.
“I never really put anything together tonight. I just stayed out of trouble, and got a couple wins here and there,” Malott said. “The biggest thing was in the second game tonight against Sean Rash. I doubled in the 10th to shut him out and that gave me some confidence and opened the gap a little.
“I was disappointed with my loss to Fagan in the last match Wednesday. I had a big lead and let him catch up, but I was able to get past that, focus on the positive and that helped.”
If Malott wins the title in January, his 10th title will qualify him for PBA Hall of Fame consideration at some point down the road, but it’s not something Malott is concerned about.
“We’ll have a couple of months to prepare and think about the finals,” he said. “Ten titles, yeah, maybe it’s in the back of my mind, but it’s not a big thing at this point. It’s not like I’m going for the most PBA titles or anything. If my career ended today, I’d be very happy. I’m very grateful and fortunate to be where I’m at, and I’m still living the dream.”
Fagan, 33, chased Malott throughout the 24-game match play finals, but could never quite catch up. Russell, who qualified for his third World Series television final, finished 16 pins behind Fagan. Book, 43, will make his second television appearance in eight years as mostly a part-time touring player.
Williams, who won his only PBA Tour title in the 2011 Viper Championship, made the biggest move, advancing from seventh to fifth with a 258-194 victory over defending World Champion and fellow Englishman Dom Barrett in the final match game.
GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI competition continues Saturday and Sunday when finals in the Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon and Scorpion Championships plus a PBA Challenge special event and the World Bowling Tour Finals presented by PBA will be conducted in the South Point Bowling Plaza.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Thursday
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 52 games, includes match play bonus pins)
1, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 15-9, 12,381.
2, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 14-10, 12,263.
3, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 13-11, 12,147.
4, Todd Book, Russells Point, Ohio, 15-9, 12,126.
5, Stuart Williams, England, 10-14, 12,091.
6, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 12-12, 12,078, $8,100.
7, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 12-12, 12,071, $7,000.
8, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 15-9, 12,064, $6,600.
9, Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Chatsworth, Calif., 13-11, 12,002, $6,000.
10, Dom Barrett, England, 12-12, 11,997, $5,600.
11, Patrick Girard, Canada, 15-9, 11,981, $5,000.
12, Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 13-11, 11,932, $4,800.
13, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 9-15, 11,915, $4,600.
14, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 14-10, 11,883, $4,400.
15, Mike DeVaney, Winchester, Calif., 13-11, 11,863, $4,200.
16, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 11-13, 11,832, $4,000.
17, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 11-13, 11,782, $3,800.
18, B.J. Moore III, Apex, N.C., 9-15, 11,767, $3,600.
19, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 11-13, 11,728, $3,500.
20, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 10-14, 11,724, $3,400.
21, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 9-15, 11,713, $3,300.
22, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 11-13, 11,700, $3,200.
23, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 11-13, 11,695, $3,100.
24, Shuichi Heki, Japan, 10-14, 11,624, $3,000.
300 Games: Sean Rash.