January 15, 2008 19:00
Following one of the best seasons of his career, Jack Jurek is struggling this season to recapture the magic.
The Denny’s PBA Tour veteran took a step in the right direction toward getting back on track, striking with his final shot of the night Wednesday to take the lead by one pin after two rounds of qualifying in the 2008 Motel 6 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
The 44-year-old, who won his lone Denny’s PBA Tour title in 1995, finished 17th in the 2006-07 PBA World Point Rankings and established new career highs in earnings, match play appearances and championship round appearances. He’s off to a slow start this season, however, as he came into this week’s event 44th in the point rankings. The top 40 at season’s end earn exemptions for 2008-09.
“I just haven’t felt very good on the lanes. My execution has been erratic and my ball reaction has not been good,” Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.) said. “I spent some extra time last week practicing and worked on a timing change and obviously there’s been improvement, but I’m not completely there yet. It’s hard to believe you can lead a tournament like this and not be at the top of your game, but I’m definitely going in the right direction.”
On Wednesday, Jurek was second after the first block with a 238.40 average but started slowly in the second five-game block with games of 154 and 188. He bounced back with games of 267 and 268 to move back near the top and overtook David O’Sullivan for the lead by one pin with a 205 in the final game of the day.
“The right lanes were starting to hook more and I had a tough time getting deep enough,” Jurek said. “I basically used two balls the rest of the night, one on the right lane and one on left and that seemed to work.”
Jurek, who finished with a 2,274 10-game pinfall, finished just ahead of the rookie O’Sullivan, who finished with 2,273 and is looking to make his first career match play appearance. The top 24 after Thursday’s final five-game block advance to match play Thursday evening.
Troy Wollenbecker (Miami) sits third with 2,257 while Tommy Delutz Jr. (Flushing, N.Y.) is fourth and Ryan Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) is fifth with 2,251 and 2,206, respectively.
Pete Weber, a PBA Hall of Famer with 34 career Denny’s PBA Tour titles, will look to make match play in the event named after his PBA Hall of Fame father, Dick, for the first time in the three years the event has been held. Weber finished 12th with 2,182.
The field of 166 bowlers will return Thursday for at 8 a.m. PST after which the field will be cut to the top 24 for round robin match play, which takes place Thursday evening and all day Friday.
The top five after Friday will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised championship round at 10 a.m. PST at Fountain Bowl, with the winner taking home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.
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