Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio and Michelle Feldman of Auburn, NY finished atop their respective fields in Friday’s match play at the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour Pepsi Viper Championship at Thunder Alley in which the top 32 men and top 10 women competed for a spot in the finals.
Loschetter, who competed for the University of Nebraska 1999-2001, went 12-6 in match play Friday to earn the top seed for Sunday’s final round.
“It's pretty special,” Loschetter said of his results. “I've never been in that position before. We did a lot of match play last year and now we're doing some different formats, so I never had to bowl only one game to win my first title. So it's exciting. I'll be excited tomorrow but then Sunday I'll get back to business.”
The right-hander is coming off his best career season, ranked eighth in the 2007-08 PBA World Point Rankings. He credits his final position to the strategy he developed while competing.
“I stayed a little farther right tonight and a lot of the guys burned up the middle of the lane and it forces you, in a way, inside the sixth arrow and I decided to stay away from that and it helped a lot,” Loschetter said.
For Sunday’s finals, however, he said it’s too early to predict a plan of attack.
“There's a lot of elements involved in TV and you never know what's going to happen,” Loschetter said. “You can be playing really far right or really far left. It depends on what other players do and the TV lights have a big effect so you kind of have to do that at that moment and decide what you want to do.”
Veteran bowler Walter Ray Williams, Jr. of Ocala, Fla., the all-time PBA Tour Title and Money Leader, earned the number two seed. Williams Jr. has the chance to win his 45th title and became the first player to surpass the $4 Million mark with his appearance on Sunday. Brad Angelo, of Lockport, N.Y. took the third spot. In a miraculous comeback, Wes Malott, of Argyle, Texas was tied for seventh with one game remaining and shot 268 to catapult from seventh to fourth place and claim the last spot for Sunday’s finals.
“I was obviously very frustrated, I felt like I bowled OK but wasn’t catching the breaks,” Malott said.
“When the last game came around I felt like I lost all momentum and was kind of down but it actually kind of helped me relax. Halfway through the game I had a spare, a three-bagger, a spare and a strike. I was on the other side of the house and a couple guys came over and told me to keep it going. I got lucky late in the game. It’s pretty unbelievable. I have no clue how it (making the final) happened.”
In the Women’s Series, sponsored by the U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC), Feldman and Stefanie Nation of Miami finished No. 1 and 2, respectively, to earn spots in Sunday’s live ESPN finals. Feldman finished 7-2-0 in match play with 5,208 pins and Nation also finished at 7-2-0 with a score of 5,079.
“Actually I was surprised I did as well as I did,” Feldman said. “Yesterday, bowling across from the men is easier for me because I kind of go with them. Not that I didn’t bowl well today, but I’m a little more left than the women and it’s a lot easier.”
“It’s indescribable, it's overwhelming,” Nation said. “I really can't put in into words. I definitely had to work hard today to get there. I'm excited. I've always wanted to be on the professional women's tour. It didn't really exist when I thought I could get there. I just want to make the best of it and bring home the title.”
The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. EST. The top four finalists advanced to stepladder competition. No. 4 Malott will face No. 3 Angelo, the winner of that match will face No. 2 Williams Jr. and the winner of that match will face Loschetter in the championship match. The women’s championship match featuring Feldman and Nation will take place prior to the men’s championship match.