Patrick Allen stumbled as he approached the finish line, but a colossal bad break for Walter Ray Williams Jr., the Professional Bowlers Association’s all-time titles leader, handed Allen the Lumber Liquidators PBA National Bowling Stadium Championship Sunday.
Allen defeated Williams, 225-223, when Williams left a pocket 8-10 split on his second shot in the 10th frame of the title match. A fourth consecutive strike would have meant victory for the 45-time PBA champion after spares by Allen in the ninth and 10th frames gave Williams a chance for a come-from-behind victory.
“After Walter Ray labeled the first one in the tenth, I was just praying for a rolloff,” Allen said. “He is the all-time titles leader because he performs when he needs to. The second shot looked good off his hand. Having that happen to win is something you can’t even imagine.”
Allen, who picked up his 11th career title and first of the 2008-09 season, earned $25,000 and locked up an exemption for the 2009-2010 season. Williams won $13,000 for second place.
“I drifted a hair left on the second ball and didn’t get it to the right spot, seeing the 8-pin standing was like somebody shot me,” Williams said. “I got a few good breaks this week, I just needed one more.”
The tournament was the first in PBA Tour history to employ different lane conditioning patterns on each lane during the match play and ESPN-televised championship rounds. The left lane was conditioned with the PBA’s 44-foot-long Shark pattern while the right lane featured a 36-foot Cheetah pattern, forcing the players to make separate bowling ball and angle-of-attack choices for each lane.
“I knew if I could get lined up right, I would be all right,” Allen said. “Bowling on the mixed patterns against O’Neill, Barnes, Malott and Walter Ray could be the biggest challenge I have ever faced.”
In the opening stepladder match, Allen ended 2006 PBA Rookie of the Year Bill O’Neill’s bid for his first title, 218-200. O’Neill, a former Saginaw Valley State University collegiate All-American from Levittown, Pa., earned $5,000 for fifth place. Leaving and failing to convert the 1-2-4-6-10 “washout” in the fourth frame proved to be O’Neill’s undoing.
Allen then eliminated reigning PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 267-236. The key shot in the match was Barnes’ missed 7 pin spare attempt in the ninth frame after he had rallied to take a one-pin lead. Barnes, a 10-time PBA champion, earned $5,500 for fourth place.
The 38-year-old left-hander advanced to the title match against Williams after a 268-215 romp past red-hot Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas. Malott, the 2008-09 Player of the Year points leader, was never a factor after Allen started the match with seven strikes. Malott earned $6,500 for third place.
The next stop on the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour will be the Bayer Earl Anthony Classic at Lava Lanes in Medford, Ore., starting Tuesday. The tournament will be contested on a new, specially-designed “Earl Anthony” lane condition and it will include the final PBA Women’s Series tournament of the season. ESPN will televise the women’s and PBA Exempt Tour finals Sunday at 1 p.m. (Eastern Time).
Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour – National Bowling Stadium Championship
National Bowling Stadium – Reno, Nev.
Championship Round – Total/Games/Earnings
1. Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla. 975 (4 games) $25,000
2. Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla. 223 (1 game) $13,000
3. Wes Mallott, Pflugerville, Texas 215 (1 game) $ 6,500
4. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas 236 (1 game) $ 5,500
5. Bill O’Neill, Levittown, Pa. 200 (1 game) $ 5,000
SCORES – In the first match, Allen def. O’Neill, 218-200; in the second match Allen def. Barnes 268-236; in the third match Allen def. Mallott, 268-215; and in the final, Allen def. Williams, 225-223.