January 17, 2007 19:00
Just over a year ago, Jason Couch was raising the trophy at the 2006 Dick Weber Open. If his play Thursday was any indication, Couch could be the latest Denny’s PBA Tour bowler to successfully defend a tournament crown as he leads in the 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) opened Thursday’s five-game block with his low score of the day, 216, before improving to games of 247, 265 and 280. The left-hander finished with a 245 for a 15-game qualifying score of 3,701 to advance to the 24-bowler match play round, beginning Thursday evening.
“I would say my scores are a combination of a couple of things,” said Couch, who also won last season’s 2005 Chicago Classic. “I was pretty comfortable in this center last year and I’ve always bowled pretty well on the strips pattern in the past. On top of that, I have a little momentum from finishing third and sixth the past two weeks.”
If Couch were successful in defending the title, he would become the first to do so since Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) did so in the Dydo Japan Cup 2005.
Wednesday’s leader, Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.), is Couch’s closest competitor, 67 pins behind with 3,624.
Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), who won the 2007 H&R Block Classic two weeks ago, enters match play in third with 3,558.
Dennis Horan Jr. (Temecula, Calif.), who has four career Denny’s PBA Tour titles, is in fourth with 3,519.
Rounding out the top five is Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas), who was in the same position after Wednesday. Scroggins ended Thursday’s qualifying with 3,512.
The top 24 bowlers return Thursday evening for the first round of round robin match play which begins at 6 p.m. PST. The eight-game block will be followed by two additional eight-game blocks on Friday to determine the event’s top five bowlers.
The top five bowlers will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST at Fountain Bowl. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
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