February 20, 2008 19:00
With just five weeks remaining in the Denny’s PBA Tour season, the top two bowlers in the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race are on different routes to establish themselves as the clear front-runner in the race.
Chris Barnes led qualifying with a 6,097 27-game pinfall to earn one of the eight byes into the Round of Super 16 in the 2008 Denny’s World Championship at Woodland Bowl, the third of four Majors on the Denny’s PBA Tour.
Barnes (Double Oak, Texas), who trails PBA Hall of Famer and all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the Player of the Year race by just four points, bypassed the Rounds of 32 and 16 by averaging 226.22 in his nine games Thursday to maintain his lead from Wednesday.
Williams (Ocala, Fla.), meanwhile, finished 10th in qualifying to just miss out on a bye, but he knocked off Mark Scroggins, four-games-to-one, in the best-of-seven-games Round of 32 Thursday night to advance to Friday’s Round of 16. He will face Michael Fagan, who swept rookie sensation Rhino Page, 4-0.
The 48-year-old has won twice this season and will look to win his record-tying eighth Major this week. He tied Earl Anthony’s all-time titles record two years ago at Woodland Bowl when he defeated Pete Weber in the 2006 Denny’s World Championship for his seventh and most recent Major.
Barnes and Williams would not meet until Sunday’s title match.
Also earning byes into Friday’s 2 p.m. ET Round of Super 16 were Danny Wiseman (Baltimore), Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.), Steve Harman (Indianapolis), Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas), Todd Book (Cantonment, Fla.), Sean Rash (Wichita, Kan.) and Zulmazran Zulkifli, an amateur who bowls for Team Malaysia. This week marks the first time amateurs have been allowed to bowl in the PBA World Championship.
Norm Duke, a 26-time titlist who came into this week 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings and in danger of losing his exemption, defeated defending champion Doug Kent, 4-1. The top 40 in points at season’s end earn exemptions and this week’s event offers more points than standard events, giving bowlers a chance to make a big move in the standings going into the final four events.
Two Australian bowlers – two-handed bowler Jason Belmonte and Andrew Frawley – won their Rd. of 32 matches meaning four foreign-born players remain in the final 24.
The Round of 32 saw an interesting finish between Chris Warren and Mitch Beasley. In the deciding game seven, Beasley picked up the 7-10 split in the fourth frame to stay in the match then had a chance to win in the 10th frame with a mark and eight pins. After leaving a 10-pin with his first shot in the 10th, Beasley missed the spare to give Warren the win.
Friday’s Round of 16 gets underway at 9 a.m. EST with the winners advancing to take on the top eight from qualifying in the Round of Super 16 at 2 p.m. EST. The Round of 8 takes place at 7 p.m. with the final four advancing to Sunday’s championship round.
The live ESPN-televised finals take place Sunday, Feb. 24 at 12:30 p.m. EST. The winner will take home $50,000 and two-season exemption 2009-10 season.
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