Jason Couch has done just about everything in his 15-year Denny’s PBA Tour career, but he can now add back-to-back titles to his already impressive resume.
Couch defeated 41-year-old rookie Billy Oatman, who was attempting to become the second African-American in history to win a Denny’s PBA Tour title, 236-228, Sunday at Strike Zone at Sunset Station in a match that came down to the final shot.
Couch, who earned his 15th career Denny’s PBA Tour title, captured his second title in as many weeks after winning last week’s Dick Weber Open, becoming the first since Tommy Jones in 2005 to win back-to-back. A four-week hot streak has seen Couch go from 27th in the PBA World Point Rankings to 1st.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a run like this. In 1999 I made a show and two weeks later won my first Tournament of Champions, but never have I gone third, sixth, win, win,” Couch said. “I had an opportunity to put a lot of heat on (Oatman) in the 7th frame and I left a 6-pin. Either way, I knew I’d have to get up in the 9th and 10th and do something big. Billy is a phenomenal talent and I have no doubt in my mind he’ll end up in the winner’s circle.”
Couch trailed early against Oatman, a Cinderella story who earned an exemption for this season only after exempt bowler Ritchie Allen deferred his exemption due to an injury. Oatman had finished 11th at the Denny’s PBA Tour Trials, one spot shy of an exemption.
He showed a lot of poise in the title match, striking four consecutive times in frames 6-9 while Couch had a nine-spare in the 7th to let Oatman take over the lead by two pins. Showing why he’s a future PBA Hall of Famer, Couch stepped up and struck twice in the 10th to put the pressure back on Oatman. Needing two strikes to win, Oatman struck with his first shot, and hit the pocket with his second shot, but the 10-pin stood up, giving Couch the win.
Couch advanced to the title match with a 238-230 win over Mike Scroggins. Couch struck in five of the first six frames to take an early lead but Scroggins struck three times in frames 6-9 to force Couch to double in the 10th for the win.
Oatman advanced to the title match with a 207-181 win over Brad Angelo. Oatman took the early lead with three strikes in the first four frames while Angelo had 2-10 splits in the 1st and 4th frames. Oatman left a pocket 7-10 split in the 5th frame giving Angelo an opening, but he could not capitalize and Oatman struck with his first ball in the 10th to clinch the win.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) earned $25,000 for the win, while Oatman (Chicago) took home $13,000 for second. Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) earned $6,500 for third and Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) earned $5,500 for fourth.
Next week the Denny’s PBA Tour heads to El Paso, Texas for the 2007 Sun City Classic, Jan. 31 – Feb. 4 at Oasis Lanes. The nationally televised ESPN finals take place Sunday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. EST. Denny’s PBA Tour
2007 Motel 6 Classic
Strike Zone at Sunset Station
Sunday, Jan. 28
|1.||Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla.||474 (2 games)||$25,000|
|2.||Billy Oatman, Chicago||435 (2 games)||$13,000|
|3.||Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas||230 (1 game)||$6,500|
|4.||Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y.||181 (1 game)||$5,500|
SCORES – In the first match, Couch def. Scroggins, 238-230; in the second match, Oatman defeated Angelo, 207-181; and in the final, Couch def. Oatman, 236-228.
This is Couch’s 15th career Denny’s PBA Tour title.