November 3, 2006 19:00
Wes Malott will have the task of trying to become the first top-seed since February of 2005 to win a stepladder final Sunday when he bowls in the title match of the 2006 Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes.
The show airs live on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. EST and is followed immediately by a taping of the first two matches of the 2006-07 PBA Skills Challenge, as well as a taping of a new made-for-TV show, “Bust Your Buddy.”
Malott earned the top-seed for Sunday’s finals by going 13-5 in match play Friday. Top seeds have now lost the last six stepladder finals, including Jack Jurek’s loss to Doug Kent in last week’s 2006 USBC Masters.
Last season, top seeds went 0-4 in stepladder finals, the first time in the 38-year history of PBA Tour stepladder finals that top seeds have gone winless in a season. Malott will look to become the first No 1 seed to win a title since Chris Barnes defeated Patrick Allen, 213-212, in the 62nd U.S. Open.
Malott is once again off to a strong start this season, making the championship round in two of the first three events. Malott made the first four championship rounds in 2005-06, winning his first career title in the season’s third event, the 2005 Mile High Classic.
Taylor Lanes has been good to Malott, who made his first career telecast in the 2004 PBA World Championship which featured preliminary rounds at Taylor Lanes and the championship rounds at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center. He finished third that day, falling to Mika Koivuniemi 225-193.
Tony the Tiger
Tony Reyes was nearly unstoppable Friday night, going 7-2 in the first nine games of match play and 8-1 in the second block to move from 17th to second. His final game was the topper.
Reyes bowled Mike Scroggins in the No. 3 vs. No. 4 seed match Friday night. Not only did he beat Scroggins, he shot 299 to pass Parker Bohn III for the No. 2 seed. Reyes’ 11th strike clinched the No. 2 seed. Had he not struck with his 11th shot, Bohn would have earned the second seed.
The San Bruno, Calif., native is already making amends for a difficult 2005-06 season. After three TV appearances in 2004-05 and a career high in earnings ($83,750) and point ranking (14), Reyes struggled last season, finishing just 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings, saved from non-exempt status by his win in “The Final Frame presented by the Denny’s PBA Tour,” a special event which awarded an exemption.
Reyes will be looking to break a long winless streak, the fourth longest among exempt bowlers. Only Brian LeClair’s 338 events, Ritchie Wolfe’s 307 events and Michael Haugen Jr.’s 179 events are ahead of Reyes’ 145 events without a title.
The man Reyes jumped over in the standings, Parker Bohn III, is mired in a title drought of his own. He hasn’t won since the 2005 El Paso Classic, 34 events ago, and has lost his last four matches on TV. It’s no where near the longest TV losing streak of his career (he lost nine consecutive in 1995 and ’96 which stands as the second-longest losing streak of all-time), but his four-game losing streak is his longest since 1997.
The good news for Bohn is that he’s bowling on a pattern that he’s had a lot of success on lately. In fact, Bohn’s last title in El Paso came on the Cheetah, and he owned it that day, defeating Robert Smith, 279-258, before knocking off Joe Ciccone, 288-235, in the title match.
The bad news for Bohn is that Sunday’s other finalists also have a good track record on the Cheetah. Malott has posted top-10 finishes in each of the last four events on the Cheetah, including a second-place finish in last season’s Tulsa Championship.
Mike Edwards, Sunday’s No. 4 seed, made his last TV appearance on the Cheetah as well. He posted the third-best TV score of his career in last season’s GEICO Classic, but he was the victim of a near-perfect performance by Norm Duke, who defeated Edwards, 279-265.
If streak-breaking is the theme Sunday, Edwards is the one with the biggest streak to break. Edwards is looking for his first title since the 1994 IOF Foresters Bowling for Miracles Open. A win Sunday would give him the record for longest time between televised singles titles at 12 years, six months and 30 days. Hugh Miller holds the current record at 12 years, two months and nine days. The record for longest time between singles titles – televised or not – is held by Les Zikes, who went 14 years and six days between titles.
Edwards’ 246-event winless streak is the longest among exempt bowlers with a title, just ahead of Del Ballard Jr., who’s bowled 227 events since his last title.
The first man standing between Edwards and history Sunday is Mike Scroggins, who is looking to prove his 2005-06 season was not a fluke. Last season, Scroggins set career highs in TV appearances (six), earnings ($205,270) and point ranking (3rd).
He’ll have to get past some recent demons on TV, however, if he’s to put his name alongside the elite on the Tour. Since winning two matches en route to the 2005 USBC Masters title – his first career Major – Scroggins has gone 1-5 with a 195 average in five TV appearances. In fact, Scroggins has been either all or nothing in his career on TV.
In three title-winning TV appearances, Scroggins is 3-0 with a 250.33 average. In his 17 other career TV appearances, however, Scroggins is just 3-17 with a 204.30 average.
Like Malott, Scroggins has good karma at Taylor Lanes as Sunday marks his third career TV appearance in an event held at the center. He’s yet to win in the building however. He fell to Brian Voss, 229-226, in the 2002 Greater Detroit Open, and after advancing through qualifying and match play at Taylor Lanes in the 2005 Denny’s World Championship, Scroggins fell to Patrick Allen in the title match at the EMU Convocation Center, 279-198.
Reyes beat a Scroggins twin in each of his position round matches. He knocked off Mark Scroggins, 227-202, in the ninth game of match play (first position round) and Mike Scroggins, 299-216, in the 18th game (final position round match).
NO WHERE TO GO BUT UP
After two games Thursday it looked like the last thing Bohn would do was make the final round. He started qualifying with a 145 and followed it up with a 177. Bohn averaged 237.17 over the final 12 games with just one game under 200, however, to make match play.
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Bohn is making a TV appearance for the 20th consecutive season which is third among exempt bowlers. Brian Voss holds the longest current streak on Tour, having appeared on a television show all 24 years of his career (not including this season). Walter Ray Williams Jr. has now made a show in 22 consecutive seasons.
Scroggins was 13th after qualifying, then went 7-2 in his first block of round robin match play to move up to fifth. He went just 3-4-1 in the second block but averaged 238.56 to stay in the fifth position.
IDENTICAL TWINS, IDENTICAL SCORES
Mike and his twin brother, Mark, proved that twins do have a sixth sense for each other. During Friday’s first round-robin match play block, the twins had duplicate scores two games in a row. In game four, both Mark and Mike bowled a 267, then they came back in game five with identical scores of 212.
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