March 4, 2008 19:00
After a “week off” as he called it, Rhino Page took some time to work on his game. Unfortunately for his competitors, that time may have made him an even bigger threat than he already was.
Page extended his PBA record by qualifying through the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round for the 11th time this season, leading the TQR in the 2008 Go RVing Classic at Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center with a 1,621 seven-game pinfall.
In last week’s Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic, Page failed to qualify for just the third time in 13 tries this season. He took the rest of his “week off” practicing with his former Junior Team USA coach, Ron Hatfield, who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
“I had a lot of down time last week, but I didn’t take any time off from bowling,” Page (Topeka, Kan.) said. “Ron has worked with me on and off, mostly on the mental game, but he worked with me on getting good and comfortable with getting up the back of the ball. It’s never been my ‘A’ game but it’s something I need to get better at, especially with the U.S. Open coming up. It’s already helped me a lot as far as not splitting as much. It’s actually helped me so much I can’t even tell you.”
Page, who has tied or set several PBA records in his rookie season, stayed above 200 in all seven of his games Wednesday with a high of 257 in game two. His 248 in game seven gave him the overall lead, jumping over three bowlers in the final game.
The 24 year old, who has clinched an exemption for the 2008-09 season, has already made four championship rounds this season – tied for the rookie record – and set the seven-game scoring record earlier this season. He’s still looking for his first career title, however, and hopes this new change in form will be the key.
“It’s pretty exciting. I think I’ll use it a lot more than not,” Page said. “Staying up the back evens up your ball reaction so much. It’s why (Chris) Barnes does so well week in and week out. He can manipulate his ball roll. Hopefully it will help me a ton.”
Page was referring to 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year points leader Chris Barnes, who won his second title of the season last week in Columbus. Page, who is a virtual lock for the 2007-08 PBA Rookie of the Year award, led the TQR field for the first time since the Lumber Liquidators Championship in December and the fourth time this season, another PBA record.
“It does feel good to be back on top,” Page said. “Not that I bowled badly the last few weeks, but I’ve been squeaking by and it’s been a roller coaster. I worked hard last week and to be able to come out and bowl the way I did after last week makes me feel really good.”
Jonathan Van Hees (Newport, R.I.) finished second with 1,584 while amateur Alex Aguiar (North Dartmouth, Mass.) finished third with 1,576 to qualify as the top amateur. The top 11 PBA members and top amateur advanced to Thursday’s Round of 64.
Walter Schaub II (Schaumburg, Ill.) was fourth with 1,562, D.J. Archer (Mineral Wells, Texas) was fifth with 1,557 and Nathan Bohr (Wichita, Kan.) was sixth with 1,547.
A handful of bowlers who are battling it out for the top spot in the non-exempt points race also qualified. Edward VanDaniker Jr. (Essex, Md.) finished eighth to qualify for the 10th time overall this season and the seventh consecutive week, which extended his PBA record. VanDaniker currently leads the non-exempt points race over Tom Daugherty (Tampa, Fla.), who finished seventh Wednesday and qualified for the seventh time this season. P.J. Haggerty (Clovis, Calif.) and Ryan Ciminelli (Cheektowaga, N.Y.), who sit third and fourth, respectively, in the non-exempt race, finished 11th and ninth on Wednesday to also qualify.
Earning the final spots in the Round of 64 were Dan White (Agawam, Mass.) and Vinny D’Ambrosio III (Staten Island, N.Y.)
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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