January 19, 2007 19:00
The theme for this Sunday’s championship round of the 2007 Dick Weber Open is “one of these bowlers is not like the others.”
Four of the five finalists are left-handed leaving Walter Ray Williams Jr. as the lone bowler on the right side. Four of the five finalists are proven Denny’s PBA Tour champions and veterans. Andrew Cain stands alone as a rookie bowling in his first-ever PBA event as a PBA member
Finally, four of the five bowlers will have to win at least two matches to take home the title. Top-seed Jason Couch sits alone at the top needing just one win to capture his second consecutive Dick Weber Open championship at the 14th title of his career.
That one win for top seeds has been difficult the last two seasons. Couch will look to break a nine-game losing streak for top seeds in stepladder finals, dating back to Chris Barnes’ win over Sunday’s No. 2 seed Patrick Allen, 213-212, in the 62nd U.S. Open title match.
Couch will also look to successfully defend his Dick Weber Open title, which would make him just the fourth bowler in Tour history to defend a title in two different events. Couch defended his Tournament of Champions crown twice, winning the event in 1999, 2000 and 2002 (no event was held in 2001). He would join PBA Hall of Famers Earl Anthony, Dick Ritger and Dick Weber as bowlers who have successfully defended a title in more than one event.
The title match this Sunday could be a rematch of last year’s Dick Weber Open title match when Couch defeated top-seed Parker Bohn III. For that rematch to happen, Bohn will have to win three matches as he comes in as the No. 4 seed.
Bohn has some extra motivation this week as he will try to win the title for his father-in-law, who passed away earlier this week. Bohn was on a mission all week to make the finals. After finishing second in qualifying he seemed to have enough of a cushion to guarantee himself a spot in the finals. Bohn went just 7-10 over the first two rounds of match play to nearly drop out of the top five. He went on an amazing run in the final block, however, winning his last seven matches to finish fourth.
The 30-time titlist, who is making his 100th career TV singles appearance, has been almost a lock to make the finals in round robin events. He’s made the championship round in three of the five round robin tournaments this season and five of the last eight. He’s come up empty in each of those five events, however.
Bohn will face Walter Ray Williams Jr. who had an equally dramatic run to the championship round. Williams faced Mike Scroggins in the #5 vs. #6 position round match with the winner moving on the championship round. Williams led late and could have doubled in the 10th to lock out Scroggins, but after a strike he left a 10-pin to give Scroggins a chance. Scroggins could have doubled to win, but he left the 6-10 to give Williams another chance at title No. 43.
Waiting for either Bohn or Williams in the second match is the best story of the tournament and the surprise of the season. Former U.S. Amateur champion and three-time Team USA member Andrew Cain will look to become just the third bowler in Tour history to win a title in his first PBA event.
Cain participated in the 2007 Team USA Trials two weeks ago in Reno, Nev., but failed to make the team. He became a PBA member this Monday and he’s now three wins from history.
The last bowler to win in his PBA debut was Brian Davis, who won the 1993 Harrisburg Open in his first PBA event. That day, Davis defeated Williams, 299-267 in the title match, coming a 2-pin away from perfection. Davis joined Mike McGrath as the only bowlers to win in their PBA debut. McGrath won the 1965 Portland Open in his first PBA event.
Should Cain – who had the best record in match play at 19-5 – move on he’d face another lefty in Patrick Allen, who has been red hot since the holiday break after a terrible first half of the season. Allen isn’t used to facing inexperienced bowlers on TV lately. He’s currently on a four-match TV winning streak with three of those four wins coming against Pete Weber and Walter Ray Williams Jr. In his 2007 H&R Block Classic win two weeks ago, Allen defeated both Weber and Williams to win the title, becoming the first bowler since Bohn in the 1999 Showboat Invitational to beat both Weber and Williams on the way to a title.
Like Allen, Couch has come on strong over the last three weeks, also making two TV appearances and moving up from 27th to 7th in points. He seems to hold the advantage as the top-seed who dominated all week, but perhaps the bowler with the biggest advantage is Williams who will have the right side all to himself.
The last time four lefties made a championship round – the 2003 Cambridge Credit Classic – the lone right-hander came out victorious. Mika Koivuniemi not only defeated three lefties – Couch, Peter Hernandez and Allen (Eric Forkel was also on the show) – he also fired the 16th nationally televised 300 game in Tour history.
Williams has some experience beating up on lefties. He defeated three lefties to win his first career title in the 1986 True Value Open, knocking off Hugh Miller, John Gant and Steve Cook in addition to right-hander Mats Karlsson to win title No. 1.
Tune in Sunday to find out which of these five great storylines materializes as they honor the memory of the legendary Dick Weber for the second consecutive season.
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