A tearful Robert Smith could hardly express Sunday how much his first Denny’s PBA Tour title in almost four years meant to him.
Smith captured his seventh career title and his first since 2004, defeating a pesky Brad Angelo, 223-205, to win the 2007 CLR Windy City Classic at Hawthorn Lanes.
Smith missed almost the entire 2006-07 season due to a painful hip injury which left him unable to walk for two months. A year’s worth of recovery, hard work and a switch to the Elite ball company led Smith back to a place some thought he might never return.
“The pain, the hip problem, taking the year off… all of it,” Smith said, choking back tears. “All the hard work I put in, it was all worth it. It’s a relief just to come back and bowl. The win is a bonus. I really think it’s the start of a new era for me.”
Known on Tour as “Maximum Bob” because of his ball speed and rev rate which are the highest on Tour, Smith slowed things down all week due to the challenging Shark oil pattern, then on Sunday stood as far left as he could and launched the ball over the gutter cap, throwing the ball 14 feet in the air down the 60-foot lane.
“That’s my trick and the guys all know it,” Smith said. “The ball can’t hook in the air.”
The move resulted in a solid game against Angelo, who was coming off a 162-151 win over Chris Barnes in the semifinal in what was the third-lowest combined score in a televised match in Denny’s PBA Tour history. Smith used a key four-bagger in the fifth through eighth frames to take control of the title match and his nine-spare in the ninth frame all but ended it.
Angelo came in as the No. 5 seed and was winless in 103 career events, but looked destined to finally break through with his first victory. He looked unstoppable in defeating No. 4 Ritchie Allen, 265-168, and No. 3 Mika Koivuniemi, 256-233, before he and Barnes got locked into an ugly match.
The two combined for seven splits and seven open frames, with Barnes accounting for five of the splits. The last came in the 10th frame when Barnes could have struck out to win the match, but he left the 6-7 split and opened, and Angelo marked in the 10th to win. The 162 gave Angelo the third-lowest winning score on TV in history.
Smith (Captain Cook, Hawaii) took home $25,000 for the win and an exemption for the 2008-09 season, while Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) earned $13,000 for second. Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) took home $6,500 for third, Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) earned $5,500 for fourth while Allen (Columbia, S.C.) earned $5,000 for fifth.
The Denny’s PBA Tour heads to Wyoming, Mich., next week for the 2007 Great Lakes Classic at Spectrum Lanes, Nov. 28–Dec. 2. The live ESPN televised finals take place Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. EST. The event also marks the fourth and final PBA Women’s Series event, the title match of which will take place during the live ESPN televised finals.Denny’s PBA Tour
2007 CLR Windy City Classic
Vernon Hills, Ill.
Sunday, Nov. 25
|1.||Robert Smith, Captain Cook, Hawaii||233 (1 game)||$25,000|
|2.||Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y.||888 (4 games)||$13,000|
|3.||Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas||151 (1 game)||$6,500|
|4.||Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich.||233 (1 game)||$5,500|
|5.||Ritchie Allen, Columbia, S.C.||168 (1 game)||$5,000 |
SCORES – In the first match, Angelo def. Allen, 265-168; in the second match, Angelo def. Koivuniemi, 256-233; in the third match, Angelo def. Barnes, 162-151; and in the final, Smith def. Angelo, 223-205.
This is Smith’s seventh career Denny’s PBA Tour title.