Many people predicted after his latest disappointment in a title match that Chris Barnes would break out of his slump in a big way. They were right.
Just two weeks after one of the biggest mistakes of his career, Barnes responded with his ninth career Denny’s PBA Tour title, defeating Tommy Jones, 241-158, to win the 2008 Bayer Classic at Oasis Lanes. The victory also gave Barnes the lead in the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race.
Barnes has struggled throughout his entire career in televised championship rounds despite appearing in the finals more times than any bowler on the Tour since 2000. This season has been no different as he came up empty in seven championship round appearances coming into this week, the biggest heartbreak coming in the H&R Block Tournament of Champions two weeks ago. Against Michael Haugen Jr., Barnes lost a 52-pin lead late in the match and missed a single-pin conversion which cost him his third career Major title.
The 37-year-old bounced back by making his fourth consecutive championship round and Tour-leading eighth of the season.
“Getting away from all the drama was the most important thing. You can make a lot of what you see in 20 minutes on TV and forget about the 15 hours during the week it took to get there,” Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) said. “It was important to concentrate on that. The mistake I’ve made a lot has been losing focus for a couple frames here and there and that cost me. I did lose my focus a couple times today but fortunately I got it together and made some good shots.”
Barnes knocked off his Tour roommate, Mika Koivuniemi, 240-198, in the semifinals in a rematch of last year’s title match at Oasis Lanes. He then took on Jones who is Barnes’ polar opposite on television. Jones came in with a Tour-record .811 winning percentage in his career on TV (30-7) and an 11-2 record in title matches compared to Barnes’ 8-18 record when a title is on the line.
In the title match Sunday, Barnes jumped out to an early lead with strikes in the first three frames while Jones had two spares and an open in the first four frames. Jones started to climb back in the match after Barnes had three consecutive spares in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames, but after Jones doubled he left the 2-8-10 split and opened.
Playing the outside part of the lane compared to the other finalists who played inside, Barnes struck in the seventh, eighth and ninth to clinch the victory.
“Tommy doesn’t give a lot of people second chances and fortunately for me today he did,” Barnes said. “I looked at playing the lanes inside because typically I like to play where everyone else is playing and try to beat them shot-for-shot. Friday night I moved outside the last game and I felt good there so it was in the back of my mind.”
With his first win of the season coupled with two second-place finishes, two thirds and two fourths, Barnes took a four-point lead over Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the PBA Player of the Year race with six events – and two Majors – remaining. Barnes has yet to win the award in his 10-year career.
Barnes earned $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season with his win. Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) earned $13,000 for second while Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) and Mike DeVaney (San Diego), who fell 216-135 to Jones in the semifinals, took home $6,000 each for third and fourth, respectively.
The Denny’s PBA Tour moves to Omaha, Neb., next week for the 2008 Pepsi Championship, Feb. 13-17 at Thunder-Alley. The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Feb. 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Denny’s PBA Tour
2008 Bayer Classic
El Paso, Texas
Sunday, Feb. 10
|1.||Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas||481 (2 games)||$25,000|
|2.||Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.||374 (2 games)||$13,000|
|3.||Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich.||198 (1 game)||$6,000|
|4.||Mike DeVaney, San Diego, Calif.||135 (1 game)||$6,000|
SCORES – In the first match, Jones def. DeVaney, 216-135; in the second match, Barnes def. Koivuniemi, 240-198; and in the final, Barnes def. Jones, 241-158.
This is Barnes’ ninth Denny’s PBA Tour title.