February 22, 2007 19:00
Mike Mineman knew coming into the 2007 Bayer Classic that Emerson Lanes might contain some magic. After watching Sean Rash become the first-ever non-exempt bowler on the Denny’s Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour to win a title in the building last year, Mineman knew there might be something special about the center.
The right-hander from Belleville, Ill., wasn’t the only bowler to think so as a Denny’s PBA Tour record 114 bowlers entered Wednesday’s Tour Qualifying Round. Mineman finished fifth in Wednesday’s seven-game qualifying round and advanced to Thursday’s Round of 64, where he finished 12th.
Mineman followed Thursday’s finish by knocking off 2005-06 PBA Player of the Year Tommy Jones and 16-year Tour veteran Mike Scroggins before eliminating Eugene McCune, four-games-to-one, Friday to advance to Sunday’s finals.
“I was here for Sean Rash’s win last year. It was awesome. He paved the way and showed it’s possible. It’ll be very difficult but as Sean proved, it’s possible,” said Mineman. “I always wondered about how it (making the finals) would happen and how I would react. I think it’s going to take a couple of days for it to really set in. It’s been kind of magical.”
Mineman will face Dale Traber (Cedarburg, Wis.) in one of two Sunday semifinals. Traber advanced by knocking off Richard Wolfe (Vienna, Va.), 4-1.
Sunday’s first semifinal will feature Mike Machuga (Erie, Pa.) taking Denny’s PBA Tour all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. (Ocala, Fla.).
Machuga, who entered the Round of 32 seeded No. 31, scored the biggest upset in Friday’s opening round, taking down PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III in seven games, throwing a perfect game in the seventh for the win. Machuga then dispatched of Marv Sargent, 4-2, and Billy Oatman, 4-1.
Williams, who owns 42 career titles compared to the other three bowlers’ combined one title, went seven games with Mike Wolfe in the Round of 8, winning the final game 228-216.
The four bowlers advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 12:30 p.m. EST at Emerson Lanes. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
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