March 5, 2008 19:00
Brian Kretzer wasn’t in desperate need of a great performance this week, but it certainly won’t hurt.
Kretzer took a big step toward securing an exemption for the 2008-09 Denny’s PBA Tour season, leading the field in Thursday’s Round of 64 with a 3,347 14-game pinfall in the 2008 Go RVing Classic at Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center.
The 41-year-old came into this week 32nd in the PBA World Point Rankings with three events remaining, including this week. The top 38 at the end of the season earn exemptions via the point rankings. Kretzer had a 7,000 point lead over 38th coming into this week and leading the field will give him a big boost as bonus points are awarded to the top qualifier.
“Good grips, good shoes, good bowling balls,” Kretzer (Dayton, Ohio) said. “Seriously though, it was nice to get off to a good start because I wasn’t completely out of the clear. This definitely helps me feel a little more comfortable. I just got a good curve going which is my bread and butter.”
Kretzer, who has yet to win a title in 135 career events, tied a PBA record in the first seven-game block, firing two 300 games. The two perfect games equaled a feat only five other bowlers have accomplished in the four years since the Tour switched to seven-game blocks.
After averaging 244.71 over the first seven games, Kretzer managed a 233.43 over the final seven to take the lead and earn the top seed for Friday’s single elimination match play. He will face No. 32 Tom Baker, a PBA Hall of Famer and the three-time reigning PBA Senior Player of the Year who earned the final spot in match play by just two pins.
One bowler who does need a strong finish over the final three events and got off to a good start in that endeavor is Tour veteran Mike Edwards, who finished second with 3,313. Edwards was seemingly in a comfortable position before last week’s Don Johnson Buckeye State Classic – sitting 29th in points – but a handful of bowlers behind him had big weeks, dropping him down to 36th. Edwards, whose lone Denny’s PBA Tour title came in 1994, will face No. 31 Brad Angelo on Friday.
Patrick Allen and Doug Kent, the 2004-05 and 2006-07 PBA Players of the Year, respectively, finished third and fourth. Allen is still in the hunt for the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year, sitting fifth in the standings. A win this week could move him up as high as third. Allen will face No. 30 Stevie Weber while Kent, looking to make his first TV appearance of the season, will face No. 29 Mike Wolfe.
In the battle for the top honor on Tour, Walter Ray Williams Jr. finished seventh Thursday to advance to match play while PBA Player of the Year points race leader Chris Barnes missed the cut, finishing 37th. Williams, who has held the lead in 15 of the 19 weeks this season, is now four points behind after Barnes won last week’s event in Columbus, Ohio, to take the lead. Williams would grab a share of the lead with a third-place finish.
Thursday’s Round of 32, which features best-of-seven games match play, gets underway at 9 a.m. The Round of 16 takes place at 2 p.m. while the Round of 8 gets underway at 7 p.m.
The final four after Friday 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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