November 7, 2007 19:00
Walter Ray Williams Jr. says he’s bowling as well as he ever has, which is a scary thought for the rest of the Denny’s PBA Tour.
Williams defeated Pete Weber for the third consecutive week and advanced to his third consecutive championship round, knocking off his fellow PBA Hall of Famer, four-games-to-one, to advance to the finals of the 2007 Etonic Championship at AMF Thruway Lanes.
Williams finished fourth in the 2007 USBC Masters two weeks ago, then won last week’s 2007 Motor City Classic for his 43rd career title. He defeated Weber in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination Masters, and has beat him the last two weeks in the best-of-seven games Round of 8 by a combined score of 8-1.
The 48-year-old broke Earl Anthony’s all-time titles record with No. 42 at the start of the 2006-07 season but didn’t win No. 43 until last week. He’s now looking to put distance between himself and the great left-hander.
“I’ve been bowling really well the last few weeks. In fact, I feel like I’m bowling as well now as I’ve ever bowled,” Williams (Ocala, Fla.) said. “It’s hard to explain why. The lane conditions are suiting me and that doesn’t hurt.”
Williams survived a seven-game match in the Round of 32 against his MoRich ball rep Jim Tomek Jr., coming back from a 3-2 deficit to win the final two games 268-232 and 245-234. He got by Weber in five games with a 256.80 average.
“When you’re not crossing lanes it’s pretty easy to get lined up. For whatever reason, my carry was better than Pete’s,” Williams said. “The lanes aren’t changing that much for me and that’s the advantage of throwing the ball straighter.”
Williams will face Mike DeVaney in Sunday’s first semifinal. DeVaney defeated Eugene McCune, 4-0, in the Round of 8, exacting some revenge on McCune who defeated DeVaney in last week’s Round of 8.
The other semifinal features Mike Wolfe and Chris Barnes, who each won seven-game matches to advance to the finals. Barnes came back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat Mika Machuga, 4-3, by striking with his first ball in the 10th frame to win game seven, 269-249. Wolfe shot 300 in the deciding game seven, knocking off Chris Loschetter, 300-268, to win the match 4-3.
This week’s event also features the second of four PBA Women’s Series tournaments. Shannon Pluhowsky defeated last week’s inaugural PBA Women’s Series event champion Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, 4-0, to advance to her first women’s series championship round. The 2006 USBC Queens champion and Team USA member averaged 258.25 in the four games.
“Last week wasn’t so good,” said Pluhowsky (Phoenix, Ariz.) who finished 14th out of 16 bowlers in last week’s Motor City Classic. “I changed the surface on one ball before the last match to see if I would have a little more and it was the magic ball I guess.”
Pluhowsky will face Tish Johnson, who defeated Kelly Kulick, 4-3. Johnson, a USBC Hall of Famer and 25-time champion on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour, won the deciding game over Kulick, 238-178.
The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday at 1 p.m. EST at AMF Thruway Lanes. The two men’s semifinals take place first followed by the women’s title match, which will award the winner $10,000. The men’s title match follows with the winner taking home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.
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