March Madness will gear up this week as college basketball fans across the country pencil in their brackets. Fans of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour will also have their eyes set on this week’s brackets for the Go RVing Match Play Championship at Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center.
Like the NCAA basketball playoff format, the Go RVing Match Play Championship will pit 64 of the world’s top bowlers in a win-or-go-home “best of seven games” bracket elimination competition.
At six-foot four-inches and 250 pounds, the top seed is Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas. Malott’s athletic frame could have been swingman material around the hoop had his career not had him concentrating on his arm swing on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour. Malott is preparing to face the 64th seed (top amateur in Wednesday’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round) in his opening match.
“I won’t be able to let my guard down for one minute,” said the front-running candidate for PBA Player of the Year honors. “I need to stay on top of my game and use my advantage to advance.”
At the end of the 2003-04 PBA Tour season it was Wes Malott who stood in the bowling shoes of the relative unknown when he made his first career television show at the Denny’s World Championship.
“I needed to beat the greatest of them all – Walter Ray Williams Jr. – in a major, in an arena setting to make my first television show, recalled Malott. “That was not an easy task. I remember when I made the shot to win the match and how that cleared any doubts I had about where I was supposed to be.”
Joining Malott as the other top seeds in the Go RVing Match Play Championship are No. 2 Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., No. 3 Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, and No. 4 Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla.
Malott is also keeping his eyes on those “other” brackets. “I am a Longhorn, I am keeping my eyes on Texas in the NCAA Tournament”, said the big Texan.
The Malott bracket includes Patrick Allen, Brad Angelo and defending Norwich champion Rhino Page. O’Neill’s road to the “Final Four” will include obstacles such as Mike Scroggins, Michael Fagan and Mika Koivuniemi. Barnes’ bracket includes Pete Weber and Ryan Shafer. Duke’s 16-player bracket includes Walter Ray Williams Jr., Tommy Jones and Parker Bohn III.
The final leg of the PBA Tour’s five-event “Extreme Swing” also will involve the pressure of earning points to qualify for the GEICO PBA Team Shootout hosted by Six Flags, scheduled for June in Jackson, N.J. The top eight in Extreme Swing points will earn spots in that special event.
The Go RVing Match Play Championship is part of the PBA’s 50th Anniversary season “Extreme Swing,” which also includes the Ultimate Scoring Championship, GEICO Plastic Ball Championship, Etonic Marathon Open, and the Don Johnson Buckeye State Eliminator. The creative format events are meant to test the greatest bowlers in the world in different areas of the game, provide television audiences with a fresh look while providing education on pertinent aspects of the game.
The semifinals of the Go RVing Match Play Championship will take place on Saturday March 21 beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern with coverage on Xtra Frame, the PBA’s online video service. The live ESPN-final match for the Go RVing Match Play Championship will be conducted Sunday March 22 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Both the semifinals and the live ESPN finals will feature three-game total pins matches.