February 6, 2007 19:00
Just four weeks ago, Dino Castillo was 59th in the PBA World Point Rankings, third among non-exempt bowlers.
Now the Carrollton, Texas, resident is ranked 36th among all bowlers on the Denny’s PBA Tour and has opened up what might be an insurmountable lead over the rest of the non-exempt pack.
One of the hottest bowlers on Tour – exempt or non-exempt – Castillo led the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round for the second consecutive week, finishing Wednesday with a 1,522 seven-game pinfall to advance to the Round of 64 in the 2007 GEICO Classic at AMF Irving Lanes.
Castillo has now qualified through the TQR four consecutive times – tied for the Tour record – and has made the Round of 64 a Tour-best seven times this season. He has made match play in each of the last three events, finishing 14th, ninth and fifth to move into the top 40 in the world rankings, 11 spots ahead of where he finished last season as an exempt bowler.
Bowling in his home center where he bowled for 20 years growing up, Castillo came on strong over the course of the seven games Wednesday. He started with games of 210, 204 and 223 before games of 232 and 247 to challenge for the lead. A 215 in game seven pushed him to the top of the standings.
“Looking back over the last six or seven weeks it’s just been a good feeling so I’ve been riding that feeling,” Castillo said. “I’m just making some of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life for this long of a stretch,”
Last week, Castillo just missed making the championship round for the first time in his career, falling to eventual champion Mika Koivuniemi in the Round of 8 in the Sun City Classic in El Paso, Texas, four-games-to-three, but the close call did not get to the 35-year-old.
“Last week didn’t bother me. I had a lot of good breaks and a lot of bad breaks. The biggest thing was I bowled well and still made good decisions,” Castillo said. “I was happy with the outcome. Everyone would like to make the finals but someone has to lose and someone has to win.”
Also advancing to Thursday’s Round of 64 were Greg Thompson Jr. (Dayton, Ohio), Chad Kloss (Greenfield, Wis.), Edward VanDaniker Jr. (Essex, Md.), D.J. Archer (Mineral Wells, Texas) and Steve Weber (Chalmette, La.).
VanDaniker, currently second among non-exempt bowlers in the point rankings, also lost in the Round of 8 last week. Should Castillo remain in the top 40 the rest of the season, VanDaniker would also earn an exemption for 2007-08.
Finishing as the high amateur and earning a spot in Thursday’s play was Jay Ashbaugh III (Round Rock, Texas) who finished seventh overall.
The top four bowlers in the 2007 GEICO Classic advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 11:30 a.m. CST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
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