March 19, 2008 19:00
Pete Weber hasn’t had many breaks go his way this season, but he figures two solid weeks to close out the campaign will salvage what has been, by his standards, a slow season.
Weber led Thursday’s Round of 64 in the 2008 GEICO Classic at AMF Babylon Lanes with a 3,544 14-game pinfall, taking the top seed into Friday’s round robin match play.
The PBA Hall of Famer with 34 Denny’s PBA Tour titles has come up empty in three championship round appearances, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable in going just 1-3 in his matches. But a win in one – or both – of the final two events would leave him more than satisfied with his season.
“Just bowling well the last two weeks and feeling I ended the year just as well as I started is going to mean a lot to me,” Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) said. “The U.S. Open is next week and I always get psyched up for that.”
Last season, Weber had one of the finest seasons of his 27-year career, winning two titles including the prestigious U.S. Open. The victory was his record-tying fourth U.S. Open crown and eighth career Major title.
Weber is certainly not looking ahead to next week’s season-ending 65th Denny’s U.S. Open, however, averaging 253.14 on the Cheetah oil pattern Thursday, a pattern he has not made a championship round appearance on in the six seasons since the PBA went to the five standard patterns.
“I just hope the alarm doesn’t go off,” Weber joked. “I bowled well all day. I only missed one spare and had maybe two splits. Other than that every frame was filled. When you go out and have room and get some breaks your confidence gets sky high. Having that many days off helped my mind, too.”
Weber took the Go RVing Classic off two weeks ago and the Tour was on hiatus last week, giving Weber plenty of time to gear up for the final two events.
All pinfall carries over into Friday’s round robin, where bowlers earn 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 for each tie.
Chris Barnes, who currently leads the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race by four points heading into the final two events, finished second with 3,426. Barnes leads PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the race. Williams finished seventh Thursday with 3,290.
The 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year Patrick Allen, who still has an outside chance at this year’s award, finished third with 3,379 while 2006-07 Player of the Year Tommy Jones finished fourth with 3,320.
Two New Yorkers who were each in last year’s finals at AMF Babylon Lanes finished in the top six as Long Island native Michael Fagan took fifth with 3,299 and Tommy Delutz Jr. took sixth with 3,292. Both bowlers lost in the stepladder finals last season to Norm Duke, who beat a total of four New Yorkers en route to the title. A new winner will be crowned this year as Duke did not qualify for match play, finishing 54th.
The top 32 advanced to round robin match play on Friday which gets underway at 11 a.m. ET with the first of two nine-game blocks. The top 16 after the first nine games advance to the second round Friday evening after which the field will be narrowed to five bowlers for Sunday’s finals.
The live ESPN-televised championship round gets underway at 1 p.m. ET with the winner taking home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 Denny’s PBA Tour.
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