January 25, 2007 19:00
In his rookie season as the first African-American exempt bowler on the Denny’s PBA Tour, Billy Oatman claimed earlier in the week that this was his week.
Oatman advanced to the finals of the 2007 Motel 6 Classic Friday night at Strike Zone at Sunset Station by outlasting seven-time titlist Chris Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) in the best-of-seven games match up, four-games-to-three, winning the final match, 236-205.
“I couldn’t think about getting on to the TV finals Friday. I had to focus at what was at hand,” said Oatman (Chicago). “The only thing I could think of was to get the strike and get the next one. The only thing I was focused on was letting the ball come off my hand, watching it hit the pocket, hearing a loud explosion and seeing all the pins fall down.”
Oatman, who finished 11th in the Denny’s PBA Tour Trials, one spot away from gaining an exemption, was given a second chance when Ritchie Allen deferred his exemption on the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour due to an injury.
Barnes wasn’t the first major name that Oatman faced Friday as he knocked off all-time Tour titles leader, Walter Ray Williams Jr. (Ocala, Fla.), 4-1, in the Round of 16.
Oatman will face the lone right hander in the final four in Brad Angelo. Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) advanced to his 12th career final, but is still looking for his first career Tour title.
Angelo rolled over Andrew Cain (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 4-1, in the Round of 8 to win his third consecutive match over a bowler who qualified from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round.
The winner of the Angelo-Oatman match will face a left hander for the crown as Jason Couch takes on Mike Scroggins.
If Couch had a New Year’s resolution of changing his ways on the 2006-07 Denny’s PBA Tour, the left hander is certainly following through with that resolution.
Couch, who was 27th in the PBA World Point Rankings before the two-week holiday break, has not finished below sixth in the first four events of the second half, including last week’s win in the 2007 Dick Weber Open.
“I’m having a stellar run. I’ve caught fire in the second half,” said Couch (Clermont, Fla.). “This is my fourth top 10 in a row. I’m riding a wave of confidence. You can see how quick a match can turn around. You have to have the confidence to overcome any obstacles.”
Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) was a participant in Friday night’s other seven-game match, defeating Patrick Allen, 4-3. Scroggins won the first game over Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) as the two left handers traded games before Scroggins won the seventh and final game, 237-225.
The four bowlers advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 9:30 a.m. PST at Strike Zone at Sunset Station. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.