Sunday’s first championship round match in the 2006 Ace Hardware Championship will mark the first-ever match up on TV between the Tour’s greatest living legend – Walter Ray Williams Jr. – and the leader of the Young Guns – Tommy Jones.
Williams broke Earl Anthony’s all-time titles record this season in his 644th career event at the age of 46. Though it’s still early, Jones has the best shot among the Young Guns of chasing the all-time titles record later in his career. Below is a look at how Jones’ numbers right now stack up to Williams’ at the same time in their careers:
Below are more comparison statistics between Williams and Jones:Won first title
Won first Major
Reached $1 million in career earnings
Jones current career earnings stand at $808,701 in just 188 total PBA events (including PBA Regional Tour events). The Tour record for fewest events to reach $1 million in career earnings is held by Chris Barnes, who reached $1 million in 220 events.
Jones needs to earn $191,299 in 31 events to break the record, meaning he needs to average $6,170 per event to pass Barnes’ record.
The 28-year-old reigning PBA Player of the Year is in the midst of a mini-slump on TV, however. Though he has the highest all-time TV winning percentage (24-7, .774) and had a near-record 15-game winning streak on TV, Jones has lost his last two matches on TV. It’s just the second time in his career he’s lost two consecutive games on TV, and the first time since losing the first two matches of his career in 2002.
Jones’ last two losses have come in Major events, falling in the semifinals of the 2006 Tournament of Champions to Steve Jaros and the first match of the 2006 USBC Masters to Doug Kent.
Williams, meanwhile, is making his first TV appearance since breaking Anthony’s record in Japan. He’s looking to defend a title for just the second time in his career after winning the 2004 Uniroyal Tire Classic at Freeway Lanes of Wickliffe in November 2004. The only other time Williams defended a title was when he won the 1986 and 1987 Hammer Opens in Edmond, Okla. In fact, the 1987 Hammer Open is the only previous time in his career Williams has even made a show in defense of a title.
Though he made his first match play appearance of the season in the single elimination format this week, Williams’ start is already light years ahead of where he started last season. In 2005-06, Williams did not make his first TV appearance until the 18th event of the season. He is making his second already this season.
Williams did get off to a slow start this week as the PBA Hall of Famer averaged just 215.79 in the Round of 64 Thursday to finish 21st. He exploded in match play Friday, averaging a tournament-best 249.19. He did not have a single game under 200 on Friday.
He did, however, have one misstep in match play. After setting a Tour record last season by going a perfect 475-475 on his single-pin conversions in match play, Williams finally missed a single-pin conversion this week, and is now 46-47 this season. He missed his first single-pin conversion attempt in the first frame of game one in the Round of 32 against Chris Hayden.HARD LUCK LOSER
Ryan Shafer has not had it easy in his last few TV appearances. Below is a look at his last five losses on TV.
|2/6/2005||Atlanta Classic||Norm Duke||246-226 (title match)|
|12/4/2005||BowlersParadise.com Classic||Pete Weber||189-186 (title match)|
|2/19/2006||63rd U.S. Open||Tommy Jones||237-223 (title match)|
|3/26/2006||Denny’s World Championship||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||224-201|
|9/24/2006||Dydo Japan Cup 2006||Walter Ray Williams Jr.||215-195|
Shafer will again have a difficult task this week as he will try to cool off the hottest bowler on Tour, Wes Malott. Malott, making his Tour-high fourth TV appearance this season after making the show in the first four events last season, will look to win back-to-back titles for the first time in his career, and the first time on Tour since Jones won the Japan Cup and the Tulsa Championship last season back-to-back.
Shafer is looking for his first title since the 2003 Empire State Open, a span of 61 events. Sitting just one spot away from the PBA Tournament of Champions bubble, Shafer needs a win this week. Though Lonnie Waliczek – the only bowler ahead of Shafer on the roster – can’t be bumped this week, Shafer can save himself from the bubble with a win Sunday.RISING TO THE TOP
Since the single elimination match play format was implemented in the 2001-02 season, the top two seeds have met in the title match just twice. If No. 1 Tommy Jones and No. 2 Wes Malott meet in the title match Sunday, it will mark the second consecutive time it’s happened in the format.
The last single elimination event, the 2006 Lake County Indiana Classic, featured No. 1 Norm Duke defeating No. 2 Mika Koivuniemi. Prior to that the only No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up came in last season’s Bayer Atlanta Classic when No. 2 Tommy Jones defeated No. 1 Mike Scroggins. FIRST IS BEST
In 38 events using the two semifinal and final match format, the winner of the first match has won 23 times while the winner of the second match has won 15 times.CREAM OF THE CROP
Today’s four finalists are among the best in the game. All four ranked in the top 10 in both the PBA World Point Rankings and the season earnings leaders last season, and this season all four are currently ranked in the top 13 in the PBA World Point Rankings.
Three of the four finalists – Tommy Jones, Ryan Shafer and Walter Ray Williams Jr. – are making their second TV appearance of the season, while Wes Malott is making his Tour-best fourth.