November 22, 2007 19:00
After a huge win over Pete Weber in the position round at Hawthorn Lanes Friday night, Robert Smith was satisfied with the thought of being the No. 3 seed for Sunday’s championship round in the PBA Tour’s CLR Windy City Classic.
Little did he know his 279 game had pushed him all the way from fifth in the standings to the top seed.
Smith defeated Weber, 279-226, in the No. 5 vs. No. 6 seeding match to finish with a 13-5 record and a 7,644 32-game pinfall to earn an automatic berth in the title match of Sunday’s stepladder finals.
The six-time champion, who hasn’t won since early in 2004, was leading the field with four games to go, but shot 186 and 202 over the next two games to drop down the standings. Before the final match against the PBA Hall of Famer Weber, he grabbed a new ball and took a risk.
“I grabbed an Elite Green Alien and just told myself to throw the ball as slow as I could and throw it to the right,” Smith (Captain Cook, Hawaii) said. “I was taking a stab and it ended up being one of the best moves I made all week. I’m just overwhelmed.”
Smith missed almost the entire 2006-07 season, deferring his exemption due to a hip and back injury. He is making his first championship round appearance since the Dydo Japan Cup 2006 to open the 2006-07 season.
In addition to Smith’s big jump, the wild position round saw Chris Barnes move up to the No. 2 spot with a 237-182 win over Brad Angelo. Barnes’ roommate, Mika Koivuniemi, dropped to the No. 3 seed, finishing with an 11-7 record. Koivuniemi defeated Ritchie Allen in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 match, which forced Allen from the top spot down to No. 4 after the 214-194 loss. Koivuniemi, a Finland native, is making his third championship round appearance in the first six events and will look to become the first two-time winner this season after taking the season-opening Dydo Japan Cup.
Earning the No. 5 seed was Angelo, who finished with a 12-6 record. Angelo will face Allen in the first match of the stepladder finals on Sunday. Like Smith, Allen – who had the best record of the day at 14-4 – also missed the 2006-07 season due to a hand injury. He’ll look for his third career title while Angelo is seeking his first.
The winner of the first match will face Koivuniemi, with that winner advancing to face Barnes. The eight-time titlist advanced to the finals for the third consecutive week but is still looking for his first win of the season.
The top five will square off for the $25,000 top prize and one-season exemption at Hawthorn Lanes Sunday. The live ESPN-televised finals get underway at Noon CST.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.