March 1, 2007 19:00
In one of the most unpredictable PBA Player of the Year races in recent history, Wes Malott is looking to get a leg up with a win in this week’s 64th U.S. Open.
Looking for his first career Major title, Malott took the lead Friday heading into round robin match play with a 5,889 27-game pinfall at Brunswick Zone Carolier.
With one title this season, a No. 4 spot in the PBA World Point Rankings and a Tour-high tying five TV appearances, Malott is one of at least a half-dozen bowlers with a chance at the Player of the Year award with four events remaining, three of which are Majors. A win this week could give Malott the edge.
“It’s come across my mind a couple times throughout the week when I’m bowling well, but at the same time I have to keep telling myself ‘you can’t look too far ahead.’” Malott (Argyle, Texas) said. “There are still a lot of games left. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and ahead of the game. If I do, I’ll get lazy and won’t commit and make good shots.”
Malott was steady Friday morning, averaging 231.33 over the nine games. He had just one game under 200, and had highs of 258 in game seven and 257 in game nine to take the lead.
Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.), who came into this week 42nd in the PBA World Point Rankings with the cut line for an exemption for 2007-08 at 39th, is second with 5,883. Former U.S. Open champion Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) is third with 5,812.
In an exciting final game to decide the 24 bowlers who would advance to match play, Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis) fired a 267 to jump from outside the cut to 18th while Mike DeVaney (Temecula, Calif.) shot 224 in his final game to earn the final spot in match play ahead of Doug Kent (Newark, N.Y.) by just eight pins.
All pinfall from qualifying carries over into match play, where bowlers earn 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 for each tie.
The first of three round robin match play sessions gets underway tonight at 6 p.m. EST featuring eight games. The final two eight-game blocks take place Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The top four advance to Sunday’s championship round.
The final four will bowl for the $100,000 top prize and three-season exemption live on ESPN Sunday at Noon EST at Brunswick Zone Carolier.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.