Anthony LaCaze of Glen Ellyn, Ill., made PBA history today at the Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championships at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Ind., as he became the first amateur to reach a PBA telecast since the tour switched to an all-exempt field for the 2004-2005 season. LaCaze, who was the No. 21 seed going into Friday’s Round of 8, defeated No. 29 seed Brad Angelo, last week’s champion at the Pepsi Viper Championship in Omaha, Neb., 4-2 to advance to the semifinals on Sunday.
“I feel awesome, I’m amazed,” said LaCaze of his win Friday night.
LaCaze will face fellow Saginaw Valley State University alum and No. 9 seed Bill O’Neill (of Levittown, Penn.) in Sunday’s second semifinal match. The match-up will be an emotional one, as O’Neill served as LaCaze’s best man at his wedding to wife Alaya.
“It makes me feel more relaxed,” said LaCaze of his facing O’Neill on television. “He was the best man at my wedding and we bowled together in college so I feel comfortable.”
O’Neill defeated No. 32 seed Eugene McCune (of Munster, Ind.) 4-0 in the Round of 8 to make it to the televised semifinals.
“I never thought I’d be bowling against him (on television) in a million years,” said O’Neill. “He bowled through the qualifier, didn’t even have a name shirt, got fined for it, and now he’s going to be on the TV show.”
Though the two have known each other for five years, O’Neill said their relationship would not affect his bowling.
“Once I start bowling, it doesn’t matter. I’ll try to beat him just like I try to beat everyone else,” said O’Neill, who is looking to win his first career PBA title.
Walter Ray Williams, Jr. (of Ocala, Fla.), who leads the PBA Tour with 44 career tour titles (the most in PBA history), is going for his 45th title. He will face No. 23 seed Mike Scroggins (of Amarillo, Tex.) in the first of the two semifinal matches on Sunday.
“This week and last week the guys that hook the ball scored well and I was fortunate to make both TV shows,” said Williams, who will appear in his 165th telecast. “My strike percentage was around 80 percent this week when usually it’s in the low 70s, which has helped a lot.”
Williams advanced to the semifinal by shutting out No. 14 seed Parker Bohn III (of Jackson, N.J.) 4-0 in the Round of 8, while Scroggins made it to the televised round by defeating No. 31 seed Tommy Jones (of Simpsonville, S.C.) 4-2.
Sunday’s telecast will also include the final match of the senior tournament also taking place at Olympia Lanes. No. 2 seed Hugh Miller (of Seattle, Wash.) will take on No. 8 seed Timothy Kauble (of Marion, Ohio) during the first televised PBA senior event since 2001. This broadcast will also mark the first time the senior tour will be televised live in as many years.
“I bowled really well today,” said Kauble. “I got to play the lanes the way I wanted to and not the way my opponents made me play them.”
Sunday will mark Kauble’s first television appearance.
“I’m excited,” Kauble said. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to be nervous but hopefully I won’t worry about it too much.”
Miller also celebrated a milestone as he celebrated his 52nd birthday Friday.
“I typically haven’t bowled well on my birthday,” said Miller, “So I wanted to turn things around and give myself a birthday present.”
To advance to the final, Miller bested No. 3 seed Michael Henry (of Brunswick, Ohio) 4-2 in the Round of 4 on Saturday Night, while Kauble defeated No. 5 seed Bob Faragon (of Schenectady, N.Y.), also with a score of 4-2.
The Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championship is taking place from Nov. 4-9 at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Ind. Saturday is a day for the fans, with PBA Pro-Ams and Fan Day taking place at Olympia Lanes. The championship round takes place Sunday, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. EST.