It was only fitting the 2007 PBA Senior Tour season came down to a match-up between PBA Hall of Famers Tom Baker and David Ozio.
After running neck and neck throughout the course of the season, the friends and rivals met in the title match of the season-ending PBA Senior Dick Weber Invitational, with the PBA Senior Player of the Year award hanging in the balance.
After months of taking turns as the front-runner for the award, it was Baker who once again came out on top, possibly securing a record third consecutive PBA Senior Player of the Year award with a 256-213 win over Ozio in a match that was much closer than the final score indicated.
While Baker came into the event with two titles to Ozio’s one victory in 2007, Ozio may have held the slight edge over Baker, leading the PBA Senior Point Rankings and advancing to the championship round in seven of 12 events coming in.
But Baker earned the top seed for match play Sunday, then compiled a 16-8 record in match play – including a 7-1 record in the final eight games Tuesday morning – to earn the top seed for the stepladder finals.
Ozio settled for the No. 4 seed, then worked his way up the ladder by knocking off No. 5 seed Bob Brady, 237-211, No. 3 seed Keith Sharp, 235-169, and No. 2 seed Hugh Miller, 201-175. He looked destined to charge past Baker for his first career PBA Senior Player of the Year award.
With the momentum on his side, Ozio started the title match with a nine-spare, then rattled off three consecutive strikes while Baker left three consecutive 10-pins in the second, third and fourth frames, and it looked like Ozio might run away with the match.
The tide quickly turned, however, as Ozio struggled over the next four frames with an eight-spare and three consecutive nine spares. Baker made a quick adjustment which led to seven consecutive strikes. In mere minutes, the match – and perhaps the end-of-the-year hardware – had gone to Baker.
“He bowled great all year,” Baker said of Ozio. “When it comes down to the matches between us it’s just a matter of who carries. I made a little move after I left those 10-pins. I got a break on a strike in the fifth frame where I wanted the shot to be lighter and it was a little too light so I just said at that point I have to make a move.
“Sometimes you have to take a risk and I forced myself to do it and it paid off.”
The win was Baker’s eighth PBA Senior Tour title in just three seasons, putting him into a tie for seventh on the all-time list. Should the voting sway his way, he would become the first bowler in history to win three consecutive PBA Senior Player of the Year awards.
“It would be awesome,” Baker (King, N.C.) said. “David has been pushing me all year. To do it three times in a row really would say something.”
Baker earned $9,000 for the win, while Ozio (Beaumont, Texas) took home $5,000 for his third runner-up finish of the season.
The inaugural PBA Senior Dick Weber Invitational also awarded a spot in the 2008 H&R Block Tournament of Champions, one of four Majors on the Denny’s PBA Tour, but Baker was already eligible due to his 2007 USBC Senior Masters win earlier in the summer. The spot will now go to a past Denny’s PBA Tour champion.PBA Senior Tour
PBA Senior Dick Weber Invitational
West County Lanes
Tuesday, Aug. 21
|#4 David Ozio||9/||X||X||X||8/||9/||9/||9/||X||9/8|
|#1 Tom Baker||X||9/||9/||9/||X||X||X||X||X||XX8|
|#4 David Ozio||X||X||9/||X||s81||X||X||7/||9/||9/9|
|#2 Hugh Miller||63||9/||X||X||X||s81||9/||9/||7/||s7-|
|#4 David Ozio||X||9/||9/||X||X||X||X||X||X||s81|
|#3 Keith Sharp||X||9/||X||9/||9/||9/||9/||s62||X||81|
ROUND ROBIN MATCH PLAY - ROUND THREE
|#5 Bob Brady||X||X||8/||72||8/||X||X||X||8/||9/X|
|#4 David Ozio||X||6/||X||8/||9/||9/||X||X||X||XX9|
(Pos., name, hometown, match play record, 40-game pinfall. Pinfall includes 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 bonus pins for each tie. Top five advance to finals. Positions 6-24 cash.)
1, Tom Baker, King, N.C., 16-8-0, 9,169.
2, Hugh Miller, Seattle, 14-10-0, 8,952.
3, Keith Sharp, Orlando, Fla., 13-11-0, 8,903.
4, David Ozio, Beaumont, Texas, 15-9-0, 8,853.
5, Bob Brady, Santa Monica, Calif., 15-9-0, 8,821.
6, James Brenner, LeClaire, Iowa, 13-10-1, 8,756, $2,100.
7, Sam Zurich, Grant, Fla., 12-12-0, 8,753, $1,900.
8, Dale Eagle, Tavares, Fla., 12-11-1, 8,704, $1,700.
9, Sam Maccarone, Glassboro, N.J., 13-11-0, 8,688, $1,500.
10, John Petraglia, Manalapan, N.J., 13-11-0, 8,605, $1,400.
11, Norb Wetzel, Fond du Lac, Wis., 10-13-1, 8,576, $1,300.
12, Shannon Starnes, Fort Worth, Texas, 12-12-0, 8,570, $1,250.
13, Bob Kelly, Dayton, Ohio, 15-9-0, 8,532, $1,200.
14, Tom Carter, Rockford, Ill., 11-13-0, 8,495, $1,150.
15, William Keenan, Jr., Orlando, Fla., 12-10-2, 8,458, $1,125.
16, Mark Roth, Fulton, N.Y., 10-14-0, 8,430, $1,100.
17, Chuck Pierce, Dallas, 11-12-1, 8,395, $1,090.
18, Bob Chamberlain, The Villages, Fla., 11-12-1, 8,388, $1,080.
19, Ray Johnson, Battle Creek, Mich., 14-10-0, 8,346, $1,075.
20, Kenny Parks, East Chicago, Ind., 11-13-0, 8,270, $1,070.
21, Rohn Morton, Vancouver, Wash., 8-16-0, 8,248, $1,065.
22, Timothy Kauble, Marion, Ohio, 8-15-1, 8,215, $1,060.
23, Mark Scime, Winter Garden, Fla, 8-16-0, 8,039, $1,055.
24, Mike Pullin, Rochelle, Ill., 7-17-0, 7,798, $1,050.
300 games - None.