Wes Malott, the hottest player in professional bowling, used a combination of soaring confidence and a never quit attitude to take the lead into Friday night’s final round of match play in the Professional Bowlers Association’s H&R Block Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes.
Malott, who has won two of the last five Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour events and has advanced to the ESPN television finals in five consecutive singles events, won six of his eight matches Friday afternoon and tied in the other two to finish with a 40-game total of 9,864 pins (238.4 average) and a seven-pin lead over Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas.
“I have a lot of confidence right now and I’m getting some key hits to keep the momentum going,” the five-time PBA Tour titlist said. “When hits don’t go my way, the biggest thing has been to quit whining and do something about it.”
That maturity has been the biggest factor in the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Texan’s arrival as a star in only his sixth full season as a professional bowler. The 32-year-old Pflugerville, Texas, resident had to remind himself to keep plugging Thursday night after he lost the lead and dropped into fifth place.
“I started match play last night 0-4,” he said, “and I asked myself, what are you doing? I stuck with it, figured things out and won my next four matches. That’s definitely been the biggest thing about my maturity out here. All of the top coaches tell you to keep trying because you’ll always learn something. That’s how I approach things now. Even if it looks like I’m not trying, I never give up.”
Scroggins, who turned his career around almost exactly a year ago when he swept through four opponents to win the Motel 6 Dick Weber Open, led until the final match of the fifth round.
“I started well, but didn’t end too well,” the Amarillo, Texas, left-hander said. “The lanes started hooking and I didn’t adjust. “
The top 24 will bowl their final eight-game match play round tonight, after which the top four will advance to Sunday’s stepladder finals. ESPN will air the finals live at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern, 9:30 a.m. Pacific) on ESPN.
First prize in the tournament is $50,000 plus a two-year Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exemption.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA TOUR
H&R BLOCK TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Red Rock Lanes, Las Vegas, Nev.
January 23, 2009
Round 5 (after 40 games, including match play records and bonus pins)
1, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 10-4-2, 9,864
2, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 10-6, 9,857
3, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 10-6, 9,837, $100
4, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 9-7, 9,744
5, Rhino Page, Topeka, Kan., 9-6-1, 9,729, $100
6, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 10-6, 9,613, $100
7, Danny Wiseman, Baltimore, 11-5, 9,581, $100
8, Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 11-4-1, 9,543
9, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 10-5-1, 9,531
10, Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 10-6, 9,503
11, Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., 7-8-1, 9,470, $100
12, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 9-7, 9,448
13, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 9-7, 9,318
14, Dave D'Entremont, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, 6-10, 9,309
15, Rick Lawrence, Waxahachie, Texas, 4-11-1, 9,272
16, Robert Smith, Columbus, Ohio, 9-7, 9,224
17, Ritchie Allen, Columbia, S.C., 8-8, 9,190
18, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 6-9-1, 9,164
19, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7-8-1, 9,151
20, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 4-12, 9,132
21, Brian Voss, Kennesaw, Ga., 5-11, 9,081
22, Michael Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 5-10-1, 9,069
23, John Nolen, Waterford, Mich., 5-11, 8,849
24, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 2-12-2, 8,774
NOTES: H&R Block Tournament of Champions – Las Vegas, Nev.
300 Games (7)
Chris Barnes (Qualifying Round – Block 1)
Danny Wiseman (Qualifying Round – Block 1)
Dave Husted (Qualifying Round – Block 1)
Sean Rash (Qualifying Round – Block 2)
Tony Reyes (Qualifying Round – Block 2)
Patrick Allen (Qualifying Round – Block 3)
Rhino Page (Round of 24 – Block 1)