Qualifiers Making a Run

by PBA Editor January 11, 2007 19:00
While three of the four corners of this week’s match play bracket are littered with veterans and former champions, one side of the bracket features an interesting storyline.

Sean Rash, who last season became the first bowler to go from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round to Denny’s PBA Tour champion, is paired up with one of Wednesday’s qualifiers, Dino Castillo. Waiting for the winner of that match will be either Steve Weber or Ronnie Russell, both of whom also qualified through the TQR.

In all, four qualifiers advanced to the Round of 16, a first in the three years of the TQR. The previous high was three in last season’s 2006 GEICO Classic in Cheektowaga, N.Y. Troy Wollenbecker also advanced to the final 16 where he will face Jason Couch.

With Bryon Smith also making match play but falling in the Round of 32, the mark of five qualifiers advancing to match play was tied – equaling the high set in the 2006 GEICO Classic.

Just two of the four remaining can make the finals, but that would still be a first on Tour. Four qualifiers have made a championship round appearance in the last three years – Del Ballard Jr., Liz Johnson, Rash and Steve Rogers – but never have two appeared in the same show.

The one that got away
The only PBA member who qualified Wednesday not to make match play was Matt Freiberg, whose average in the 14 games of the Round of 64 was almost 50 pins lower than his seven-game average in the TQR.

Freiberg nearly broke a Denny’s PBA Tour scoring record in Wednesday’s Qualifying Round, falling 38 pins shy of Bobby Stives’ seven-game pinfall mark set in the 2005 El Paso Classic. Freiberg’s 1,815 seven-game pinfall came out to a 259.29 average but he dropped to a 210.29 average in the Round of 64 showing how much more difficult it is to bowl when the world’s best bowlers are breaking down the lanes.

Still, at just 20 years old Freiberg showed he has a bright future on the Denny’s PBA Tour. His total pinfall Wednesday was the highest in the two seasons the TQR has featured a seven-game block.

Freiberg can also take comfort in knowing he isn’t the only one whose average saw a drastic drop between the TQR and the Round of 64. Below is a look at the seven qualifiers and their averages in each round:

NameTQR Avg.Rd. 64 Avg.
Matt Freiberg259.29210.29
Steve Weber248.00228.50
Bryon Smith242.57231.71
Troy Wollenbecker238.29226.50
Dino Castillo228.86226.07
Ronnie Russell226.57223.86
Matt Eilenberger220.29207.93

Back on Track
Coming into this week, just three bowlers had gone through the first 10 events this season without making a match play appearance. Two of those three broke that streak while the third – Jim Pratt – did not bowl this week.

Del Ballard Jr. came into the week with three close calls, finishing 35th in the Etonic Championship, 34th in the Lake County Indiana Classic and 33rd in the Beltway Classic. He bounced back to finish 24th in Thursday’s Round of 64, then defeated fan favorite Bryon Smith in the Round of 32. Ballard moves on to face Mike Machuga who’s had a tough season of his own. Since making the Japan Cup final round back in September, Machuga has struggled, making just two match play appearances coming into this week. He defeated Tony Reyes in the Round of 32 Friday morning, overcoming an 0-2 deficit.

Sargent, meanwhile, had not really come close to making match play this season but he got back on track by finishing 18th in Thursday’s Round of 64 after a high finish of 38th in the Ace Hardware Championship. Unfortunately he ran into Chris Barnes, who took down Sargent, 4-1.

Like Husband, Like Wife
Chris Barnes is looking to make it a perfect week in the Barnes household following his wife’s third career U.S. Amateur title Thursday night at the 2007 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Team USA Trials.

Should he make the championship round this week, it would mark Barnes’ first TV appearance in six tries at Lava Lanes. Over his career, Barnes has made it a habit of making at least one TV appearance at the Tour’s most frequently visited centers.

Seven bowling centers have hosted a Tour stop at least five times in the last six seasons – Hawthorn Lanes in Vernon Hills, Ill.; Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Calif.; Spectrum Lanes in Wyoming, Mich., Taylor Lanes in Taylor, Mich., Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and Lava Lanes in Medford, Ore. Barnes has made a championship round in every one of the those centers except Lava Lanes. He’s come close, making the Round of 8 three times in Medford, but coming up empty in all three attempts.

Still Rolling
Will anyone beat Patrick Allen this year?

After tying a Tour record by going 14-0 en route to the title in last week’s H&R Block Classic, Allen continued to steamroll his opponents in the year 2007.

Allen swept John May, 4-0, in Friday’ Round of 32 to run his streak of consecutive games won in match play to 18.

Allen has now won his last four seven-game matches, 4-0, and also won two single-game matches on last week’s TV show. His streak is unprecedented in the single elimination format which began in 2001-02.

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