January 10, 2007 19:00
Though he’s nicknamed “Turtle” for his slow ball speed, Tim Criss sped away from the field Thursday in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.
Criss’ slow ball roll matched up well with the lanes in Medford, Ore., for the second consecutive season as he averaged 254.86 over the final seven games to lead the Round of 64 with 3,422 14-game pinfall, earning the top seed for Friday’s match play.
The 21-year Denny’s PBA Tour veteran and five-time titlist finished fourth in last season’s event at Lava Lanes, and he’ll look to qualify for his first championship round appearance since that event in January 2006. It would also mark just his second television appearance since 2001.
“My carry percentage was just incredible tonight. I pulled out an Overtime by Ebonite and it smoothed out the wet-dry. I think I struck 95% of the time I hit the pocket,” Criss (Bel Air, Md.) said. “The lanes normally play pretty tight here which favors my ball speed so I don’t feel like I have to fight the early hook like I do in other centers.”
Criss came into the week 39th in the PBA World Point Rankings. The top 40 earn exemptions of the 2007-08 season, but 10 events remain which award points.
“It’s way too early to worry about that,” Criss said. “I’ve been starting off slow the last couple of years and both times I’ve bowled much better the second half. I feel like I’ve turned it around the last couple weeks.”
A 290 in game nine and a 279 in game 14 helped Criss cruise to the lead. He’ll face defending champion Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) in the Round of 32. Himmler edged out Brian LeClair (Athens, N.Y.) by one pin for the final spot in match play with a 257 in game 14. Ironically, Himmler defeated Criss in the event’s semifinals last season on his way to the title.
Finishing second with 3,343 was 2005-06 PBA Rookie of the Year Bill O’Neill (Levittown, Pa.). O’Neill will face No. 31 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) in the Round of 32.
Roseburg, Ore., resident Bryon Smith, who advanced to the Round of 64 through Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round, finished ninth with 3,244. Smith, a former Masters champion, will face 12-time titlist Del Ballard Jr. (N. Richland Hills, Texas), who finished 24th with 3,154.
Match play Friday features single elimination, best-of-seven games match play starting at 9 a.m. PST.
The final four advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
300 Games (1) - Dino Castillo.
Notes - Exempt bowler Chris Barnes' wife, Lynda, had a big night Thursday, winning her third U.S. Amateur title in the 2007 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Team USA Trials.
Barnes, a 10-time Team USA member, fired a 8,816 40-game pinfall over four days to lead the field. She also captured U.S. Amateur titles in 1995 and 2005.
Barnes trailed three-time U.S. Amateur champion Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix by three pins heading into the final game, but Barnes fired 227 to Pluhowsky's 181 to secure the victory.
Her husband, Chris, a seven-time Denny's PBA Tour titlist, finished 15th Thursday in the Round of 64 to advance to match play. He's looking for his first title of the 2006-07 season.
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