Mike Scroggins probably had a feeling in the first frame Sunday, when the normally automatic Walter Ray Williams Jr. missed a single-pin conversion, things would go his way.
That was certainly the case as Scroggins got all the breaks Sunday, coupled with some smart decisions, to defeat Williams, 214-194, in the 2008 Pepsi Championship at Thunder-Alley, winning his fifth career Denny’s PBA Tour title and his second of the season.
The Tour veteran has finally figured out how to win on TV. Prior to his win in January in the 2008 Motel 6 Dick Weber Open, Scroggins was just 9-22 in televised matches and was riding an eight-game losing streak. He broke the streak in a big way, winning four matches as the No. 5 seed to win his fourth title.
Scroggins’ path to victory was much shorter this Sunday as he earned the No. 1 seed for the stepladder finals, giving him an automatic berth in the title match. He had the tall task of facing the Tour’s all-time titles leader, who was looking for his third title of the season and 45th of his career.
Instead, Williams missed a 10-pin in the first frame and had trouble carrying the rest of the way, leaving three 10-pins, two 7-pins and a stone 8-pin in the match.
Scroggins, using a different ball on each lane, struck in four of the first five frames and overcame an open in the seventh by striking in the eighth and ninth to all but seal the deal.
With the two other left-handed bowlers in the finals – Billy Oatman and Rhino Page – going by the wayside, Scroggins new he had to make some changes in the title match.
“Seeing the lefties struggle in the first couple matches, I was definitely thinking hard about things,” Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) said. “Billy started with three opens and Rhino threw it good in the second match but then he was totally lost in the next match. Both lanes were completely different. I had to use two different balls, stand in two different places and look at two different targets.
“Luckily, Walter Ray struggled to carry the 10-pin and I was able carry it.”
Scroggins, who also beat Williams for his second career title in 2004, is enjoying the finest season of his 17-year career, winning two titles in a season for the first time. With the win, he moved up to fourth in the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year points race, 13 points behind Williams, who took the lead back from Chris Barnes with his runner-up finish. Just five events remain, including two Majors, where Player of the Year points increase.
“He’s the greatest bowler alive so it is extra special,” Scroggins said of Williams. “I was definitely nervous, mostly because I was unsure of how I was going to play the lanes, but it’s nice. This is definitely a career-year for me.”
Williams had advanced to the title match with a 236-224 win over the No. 3 Page, a rookie making his fourth championship round of the season. After nine-spares in the third and fourth frames, Williams struck in five of the next six frames while Page suffered an open in the seventh, coming up empty in his fourth attempt at his first career title.
Page defeated No. 4 Pete Weber, 236-231, who had advanced from the first match with a 211-203 win over the 2006-07 PBA Rookie of the Year Oatman.
Scroggins took home $25,000 for the win while Williams (Ocala, Fla.) earned $13,000 for second. Page (Topeka, Kan.) took home $6,500 for third, Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) earned $5,500 for fourth while Oatman (Chicago) earned $5,000 for fifth.
The Denny’s PBA Tour heads to Indianapolis next week for the 2008 Denny’s World Championship, the third of four Majors on the schedule. The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Feb. 24 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The winner will take home $50,000 and a two-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.Denny’s PBA Tour
2008 Pepsi Championship
Sunday, Feb. 17
|1.||Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas||214 (1 game)||$25,000|
|2.||Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla.||427 (2 games)||$13,000|
|3.||Rhino Page, Topeka, Kan.||460 (2 games)||$6,500|
|4.||Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.||442 (2 games)||$5,500|
|5.||Billy Oatman, Chicago||203 (1 game)||$5,000 |
– In the first match, Weber def. Oatman, 211-203; in the second match, Page def. Weber, 236-231; in the third match, Williams def. Page, 236-224; and in the final, Scroggins def. Williams, 214-191.
This is Scroggins’ fifth Denny’s PBA Tour title.