No one was more surprised than Jason Couch that he had made the final four of the CLR Carmen Salvino Scorpion Championship, the sixth stop of the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour. Couch of Clermont, Fla. was sitting in fifth place and doubled in the 10th frame to move past Steve Jaros to make the Sunday’s live televised finals on ESPN, his first TV appearance of the season.
“I knew I needed the first hit (strike) to stay ahead of Walter Ray, but I honestly had no idea I made the show,” Couch said. “I had zero confidence coming into this. I couldn’t even tell you what my highest finish was before this (he finished 20th in last week’s Ultimate Scoring Championship). I was 31st coming in this morning and my goal was just to finish 10th. I still can’t believe it!”
No. 4 seed Couch finished with an 8-10 match play record, 7,976 pins and averaged 241.75.
Wes Malott of Argyle, Texas finished atop the field with a 13-5 record, 8,197 pins and averaged 243.97, to earn the No. 1 seed on Sunday. It is Malott’s third television appearance this season, although he is still seeking his first title of the season.
“The most challenging thing was keeping up with the high scoring pace,” Malott said. “The high end definitely hooked a lot more for us. I was able to create a large lead to kind of relax and coast to the end.”
Ken Simard shot a 300 in the final position round game, moving himself from the fourth spot to the No. 2 seed. Simard of Greenville, S.C. is making his second career TV appearance and seeking his first title. Simard finished at 10-7-1 with 8,059 pins, averaging 242.
“I started bowling good and was able to stay focused shot-to-shot,” Simard said. “It’s been a long time since I threw that many strikes. I threw 855 (in the Round of 16), that’s my highest three-game score ever.”
Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y. nabbed the No. 3 seed with a 12-6 record, 7,993 pins and a 238.53 average. Angelo won his first career title at the Pepsi Viper Championship in Omaha earlier this season.
In the Women’s Series, sponsored by the U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC), Michelle Feldman of Auburn, N.Y. and Missy Bellinder of Fullerton, Calif. finished No. 1 and 2, respectively, to earn spots in Sunday’s live ESPN finals.
Feldman, who is making her third consecutive television appearance and seeking back-to-back titles, finished 7-2 in match play with 5,675 pins and Bellinder finished 3-6 with a score of 5,391. Bellinder is making her second career televised appearance, losing in the finals of last year’s Motor City Classic to Carolyn Dorin-Ballard.
“It’s a one game match, anything can happen but I’m looking to win,” Bellinder said. “I made a show last year, came in second and now I really want to win. I want to win my first women’s preofessional title.”
The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Nov. 30 at Noon CST/1 p.m. EST. The top four finalists advanced to stepladder competition. No. 4 Couch will face No. 3 Angelo, the winner of that match will face No. 2 Simard, the winner of that match will face No. 1 Malott in the championship match. The women’s championship match featuring Feldman and Bellinder will take place after the men’s championship match.