January 3, 2007 19:00
Just like first round leader Brad Angelo, Jason Couch didn’t touch a bowling ball over the two week Denny’s PBA Tour break. His reason, however, was very different.
Couch, who like Angelo had a sub-par first half of the season by his standards, led the Round of 64 in the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium Thursday with a 3,471 14-game pinfall.
The 13-time titlist, who won two Denny’s PBA Tour titles last season, has a torn meniscus in his knee which forced him to take the entire two weeks off during the holiday break.
“I didn’t bowl once. In all my years on Tour prior to this year I practice during the break,” said Couch (Clermont, Fla.). “I think if this injury would have come up 10 years ago, I couldn’t have handled it mentally, but I think because of the break I was able to clear my head and that’s why I was so fresh today.”
Couch finished the first seven-game block Thursday with games of 278 and 277 to give him some breathing room heading into the second block. He started the second block with a 300 game and after a 187 in game two of the block – his only game under 200 the entire day – he averaged 253.60 over the final five games to cruise to the lead.
As the top seed, Couch will face No. 32 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) in Friday’s Round of 32. Carter fired a 211 in game 14 to qualify ahead of Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) by nine pins.
Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) finished second with 3,441 and will face No. 31 Chris Loschetter (Avon, Ohio), while Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) finished third with 3,321 and will face No. 30 PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber.
Qualifier Steve Rogers, who was 43rd heading into the final game and 31 pins out of the cut, fired a 300 game to finish 24th and make the cut. Earlier this season, Rogers became just the third bowler in Tour history to go from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round to the championship round when he finished fourth in the Lake County Indiana Classic.
Match play gets underway Friday morning at 9 a.m. PST with the Round of 32 which features best-of-seven games match play. The Round of 16 follows at 2 p.m., while the Round of 8 takes place Saturday at 9 a.m.
The final four will bowl for the $25,000 top prize and an exemption for the 2007-08 season Sunday live on ESPN at 10 a.m. PST at The National Bowling Stadium.
300 games (6) - Rick Steelsmith, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Couch, Brian Himmler, Eugene McCune, Steve Rogers.
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