by PBA Editor February 3, 2007 19:00
The Big Finn is back.

Mika Koivuniemi ended the longest title drought of his career, knocking off new roommate Chris Barnes, 214-185, to win the 2007 Sun City Classic at El Paso Lanes for his seventh career Denny’s PBA Tour title.

The Finland native and 2003-04 PBA Player of the Year won for the first time since the 2005 Baby Ruth Real Deal Classic, a span of 38 events. He and Barnes just recently became roommates and Koivuniemi treated him rudely in their first-ever match-up on television.

Barnes held a slim lead before leaving a 1-2-10 washout and opening in the 7th frame. Koivuniemi responded with four consecutive strikes to take over the match, marking in the 10th frame for the win.

Koivuniemi has struggled this season by his standards, coming into the week with just one TV appearance and a No. 19 world ranking.

“It’s been a long time. It really feels great,” said Koivuniemi. “A guy like Barnes doesn’t usually give you a chance, but he did give me a chance and luckily I took advantage.

“It was just an amazing week. I had to bowl a 246 the last game Thursday just to make match play and two of my matches went seven games and then I had to come from behind to win the title.”

As the No. 30 seed Koivuniemi became the lowest seed to win a single elimination match play event since the format was implemented in 2001-02.

Koivuniemi advanced to the title match with a 214-202 win over Patrick Allen. Allen opened three times in the first four frames, but mounted a huge comeback with a five-bagger after his third open. A spare in the 10th, however, meant Koivuniemi only needed a mark in the 10th and he struck for his fourth win in six tries over Allen on TV.

Barnes advanced to the title match with a 269-257 win over Mike Edwards. Edwards ran off eight consecutive strikes after an open in the 2nd frame, but Barnes matched him shot-for-shot to maintain a one-pin lead. Edwards struck and spared in the 10th forcing Barnes to strike with his first ball in the 10th. He struck three times for good measure to deny Edwards his first title since 1994.

Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) earned $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 season for the win. Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) took home $13,000 for second wile Edwards (Tulsa, Okla.) earned $6,500 for third and Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) earned $5,500 for fourth.

Next week the Denny’s PBA Tour heads to Irving, Texas for the 2007 GEICO Classic, Feb. 7-11 at AMF Irving Lanes. The nationally televised ESPN finals take place Sunday, Feb. 11 at 11:30 a.m. CST.

Denny’s PBA Tour
2007 Sun City Classic
Oasis Lanes
El Paso, Texas
Sunday, Feb. 4


Pos.Name, hometownTotal/GamesMoney
1.Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich.428 (2 games)$25,000
2.Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas454 (2 games)$13,000
3.Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla.257 (1 game)$6,500
4.Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla.202 (1 game)$5,500

SCORES – In the first match, Koivuniemi def. Allen, 214-202; in the second match, Barnes defeated Edwards, 269-257; and in the final, Koivuniemi def. Barnes, 214-185.

This is Koivuniemi’s seventh career Denny’s PBA Tour title.

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