January 16, 2008 19:00
Bill O’Neill described his performance Thursday as not only his best of the week but his best of the season.
O’Neill averaged 244.00 over his final five-game block to take the top spot heading into match play in the Denny’s PBA Tour’s Motel 6 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl with a 3,379 15-game pinfall.
The 2005-06 PBA Rookie of the Year is off to a slow start in 2007-08, coming into the week 27th in the PBA World Point Rankings. He used a 278 to jump start his day Thursday and cruised to the lead with games of 255, 235, 215 and 237.
“This was definitely my best block of the entire season,” O’Neill (Levittown, Pa.) said. “(Ebonite ball rep and exempt player) Dino (Castillo) laid out a new ball for me, a Columbia Momentum, and I used two of them today and they both rolled really well, and I was able to catch some breaks, too. I stayed away from the 160 game like I have every other block.”
It’s no surprise O’Neill bowled well this week as he has enjoyed a lot of success in the round robin match play format this season. In the 11 events he’s bowled, O’Neill has made match play five times – four times in the round robin format and once in the double elimination format used only in the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters.
“This season’s been very sub-par for me. Nothing’s gone right and I just haven’t bowled well,” O’Neill said. “I’ve tried to make some changes with my timing and a couple things with my release, and (Brunswick ball rep) Rick Benoit has really helped me out a lot. Things are finally coming together.”
Finishing second was four-time titlist Ryan Shafer who is looking to make his third consecutive top-eight finish after a slow first half of the season. Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) finished with 3,308 and was followed by Brian Kretzter (Dayton, Ohio), who finished third with 3,283. Wednesday’s leader Jack Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.) finished fourth with 3,274 while Troy Wollenbecker (Miami) rounded out the top five with 3,271.
PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber finished 12th with 3,220 and advanced to match play for the first time in the event named after his Hall-of-Fame father. Weber, who ranks tied for third all-time with 34 Denny’s PBA Tour titles, is looking to make his first championship round appearance of the season.
Last week’s Lumber Liquidators Earl Anthony Medford Classic winner Wes Malott (Argyle, Texas) finished tied for 14th with Chris Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) with 3,209.
The top 24 advance to round robin match play, which gets underway tonight at 6 p.m. PST with the first eight-game block. Round robin continues Friday with two eight-game blocks after which the top five will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised championship round.
Sunday’s finals get underway 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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