February 25, 2008 19:00
Edward VanDaniker Jr. has no problem playing second fiddle to Rhino Page, as long as he, too, gets his exemption for the 2008-09 Denny’s PBA Tour.
VanDaniker, overshadowed in the world of non-exempt bowlers this season by Page’s phenomenal rookie season, continued his quiet march to his own exemption by leading the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round in the 2008 Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic at Sequoia Pro Bowl with a 1,668 seven-game pinfall Tuesday, the ninth time he’s qualified through the TQR this season.
Page has set all kinds of rookie and TQR records this season, advancing a record 10 times and making the championship round four times. He came into this week eighth in the PBA World Point Rankings.
The 22-year-old VanDaniker, meanwhile, extended a record of his own this week, advancing through his sixth consecutive TQR. He came into the week 51st in the PBA World Point Rankings, and because Page will finish in the top 40, VanDaniker is the front-runner to earn an exemption for next season as the top non-exempt bowler outside the top 40.
VanDaniker had a comfortable lead heading into last week’s Denny’s World Championship – which is an open event and doesn’t feature a TQR – but fellow non-exempt bowler Tom Daugherty finished eighth to cut into VanDaniker’s lead.
“I just didn’t bowl well at all so I got to sit at home and watch Daugherty cut into my lead,” VanDaniker (Essex, Md.) said. “I practiced a lot after I was eliminated because I figured I need to make it four good weeks and finish it off to get the exemption. I wasn’t feeling very good about it last week but I’m feeling a lot better now.”
VanDaniker got a break when Daugherty missed the cut Tuesday, as did Page, who missed for just the third time in 12 tries this season. VanDaniker has been happy to sit back and watch Page get all the glory.
“I think being overshadowed by him is just fine with me,” VanDaniker said. “He gets a lot of attention and I slide under the radar and don’t have to worry about much except for continuing to bowl well.”
With three games over 250 on Tuesday, VanDaniker looks locked in and ready to reach the one milestone that has separated him and Page this season – a berth in the championship round. VanDaniker has made match play five times including one Round of 8 appearance.
“It would mean a lot to me to get the exemption and not have to go back to Tour Trials,” said VanDaniker, who missed an exemption via last summer’s Tour Trials by just 21 pins. “I’m hoping I can put together a good week this week to where I can pad my lead and finish off the season well and take care of it.”
Eddie Graham (Centerville, Ohio), who won the 2007 Regional Players Invitational in December, finished second with 1,664, while Denny’s PBA Tour titlist Jeff Lizzi (Sandusky, Ohio) finished third with 1,656. Lizzi advanced through the TQR to make the championship round earlier this season in Taylor, Mich.
Kelly Kulick (Union, N.J.), who made history two years ago as the first woman to earn an exemption on the Denny’s PBA Tour, qualified for her second event of the season, finishing sixth with 1,551.
Also qualifying were Steve Rogers (Bourbonnais, Ill.), Michael Cimba (Monroeville, Pa.), Brian Hatcher (Roseville, Mich.), P.J. Haggerty (Clovis, Calif.), Bill McCorkle (Westerville, Ohio) and Ronnie Horton (Christiansburg, Va.). Bill Rowe (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) finished fourth overall and earned a spot in the Round of 64 as the high amateur.
The Round of 64, which features two seven-game qualifying blocks, gets underway Thursday at 9 a.m. EST. The top 32 will advance to match play on Friday.
The top four after Friday’s match play will advance to Sunday’s championship round live on ESPN at 12:30 p.m. The winner receives $25,000 an exemption for the 2008-09 Denny’s PBA Tour.
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