January 10, 2007 19:00
In the end, neither thought they were leading, but Jason Couch and Bill O’Neill sit together atop the leader board after the first seven games of the Round of 64 in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.
As they entered the seventh game, O’Neill (Levittown, Pa.) was in second by one pin behind Bryon Smith (Roseburg, Ore.) while Couch (Clermont, Fla.) sat fourth, 27 pins behind Smith. While O’Neill had a 202 in the final game, it was Couch who made the bigger jump, finishing with a 234 and a seven-game pinfall of 1,693.
“I didn’t think I threw it very well yesterday (in practice), but apparently I’m doing better today because I got lined up awful quick,” said Couch, who finished third in last week’s H&R Block Classic. “I’m working on a couple of thumb holes I didn’t think felt right, but I’m going to keep doing the same thing I did the first seven games.”
O’Neill admitted to being surprised that he was a leader after finishing with a 202 in his final game.
“I was really surprised. I bowled 30 over the last three games. I didn’t think that was good,” said the right hander, who fired a high game of 280 in game four. “I only had one open the last three games, but the lanes changed a lot and my ball wasn’t striking. It was hitting the pocket, just not striking.”
The defending Earl Anthony Medford Classic champion, Brian Himmler (Cincinnati), sits in third with 1,684.
Smith, who won the 2003 Masters and finished third in Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round, is fourth with 1,678.
All 64 bowlers return at 6 p.m. PST for another seven games. The top 32 from today’s rounds advance to Friday’s single-elimination match play with the Round of 32 scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. PST.
The top four bowlers will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST at Lava Lanes. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
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