LAS VEGAS - Dale Traber of Cedarburg, Wis., defeated Ross Packard of San Jose, Calif., in two consecutive matches to win the 2009 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters at South Point Bowling Center on Friday.
Traber lost to Packard earlier in the double-elimination match-play bracket, but got a double dose of redemption when it counted, topping the 61-year-old left-hander, 720-691 and 673-622, to claim the coveted title, $17,000 top prize and a berth in next year's Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions.
"This is very surprising, especially considering I was buried after 14 games and needed a 260 game just to make the cut," said Traber, who entered match play as the No. 47 seed and averaged 224.9 on the way to an 8-1 record. "I bowled three matches against Ross today, and I know that the way he was throwing the ball, I couldn't take anything for granted."
The win was the second of Traber's young PBA Senior Tour career, and came just two weeks after his breakthrough victory at the PBA Senior Northern California Classic.
The 52-year-old right-hander has enjoyed a lifetime of success on the lanes, including 43 PBA regional titles and a runner-up finish to his brother, David, at the 1994 PBA National Championship.
Traber also had some recent success in Las Vegas, where he helped his team, Linds Limited of Milwaukee, into the lead in Regular Team and Team All-Events at the USBC Open Championships. That event will conclude its record 154-day run on July 24 and could mean two meaningful wins for Traber and his long-time teammates.
"After the great week in Vegas and a good start to the Senior Tour, I had three weeks of disappointment and was really searching for an answer," said Traber, who finished sixth at last week's PBA Senior U.S. Open. "I just wanted to win the first one, and just like when I was trying to win my first regional, it's nice to have the monkey off my back."
Packard, who finished third at the 2008 USBC Senior Masters, averaged 217.5 in match play this week and cruised through the winners bracket untouched to claim his spot in the championship match. He disposed of Traber, 705-658, to secure his place in the finale and then waited to see who his opponent would be.
"I was throwing the ball pretty well, and I knew I had a chance if I could throw the ball like I had been earlier, but Dale just bowled a little bit better," said Packard, who owns two Senior Tour titles. "I had a lot of close matches that went my way, but these last two, I really ran into a buzzsaw, and Dale bowled great. I think I'm on a good trend, though, so maybe that means I'm going to win next year."
Traber took a different path to the title match and punched his ticket with a, 651-579, win over top-seeded Brian Brazeau of Ocala, Fla. Brazeau, who lost his first match Thursday morning, bounced back and rolled through match play with nine consecutive wins before bowing out. He finished third and took home $6,000.
"It was an intense week, that's for sure," said Brazeau, who averaged 211.2 on the way to a 9-2 record in match play. "I totally played the lanes wrong the first round and lost, but I think that relaxed me a little bit. After that, you sure wouldn't expect to go all the way. It's match play, though, and anything can happen. I won some high-scoring matches and a couple of low-scoring ones. You're always disappointed when you lose, but I'm happy with everything overall."
Traber, Packard, Brazeau and the rest of the PBA Senior Tour competitors now will take a month and a half off before heading to Hammond, Ind., for the PBA Senior Lake County Indiana Open, which begins on Aug. 1. They will be in action each week in August, and the season will wrap up with the PBA Senior World Championship in Allen Park, Mich., Aug. 30-Sept. 4.
"This was a draining week, and I'm exhausted, but this feels amazing," Traber said. "I don't know what I'm going to do during the break, but I'm looking forward to it."
For more information on the USBC Senior Masters, visit bowl.com.
United States Bowling Congress
The United States Bowling Congress, as the national governing body, ensures the integrity and protects the future of the sport, provides programs and services to nearly 2.5 million adult and youth members and enhances the bowling experience.
2009 USBC Senior Masters
At South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Double elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall
(Name/hometown followed by three-game pinfall total)
ROUND 6 LOSERS BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $2,000)
(1) Brian Brazeau, Ocala, Fla., def. (36) Mark Williams, Beaumont, Texas, 703-695
(45) Jim Murtishaw, Menifee, Calif., def. (59) Barry Gurney, West Hills, Calif., 630-599
(42) John Cocchi, Las Vegas, def. (51) John Muller, Gervais, Ore., 658-590
(23) Brian Voss, Kennesaw, Ga., def. (33) Ron Boroff, Mansfield, Texas, 672-605
ROUND 4 WINNERS BRACKET
(28) Ross Packard, San Jose, Calif., def. (62) Keith Sharp, Orlando, Fla., 605-594
(47) Dale Traber, Cedarburg, Wis., def. (37) Bob Handley, Winter Park, Fla., 648-542
ROUND 7 LOSERS BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $3,000)
Brazeau def. Murtishaw, 636-580
Voss def. Cocchi, 620-595
ROUND 8 LOSERS BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, tie for fifth, earn $4,000)
Brazeau def. Handley, 685-559
Sharp def. Voss, 706-686
ROUND 5 WINNERS BRACKET
(Winner advances to championship match)
Packard def. Traber, 705-658
ROUND 9 LOSERS BRACKET
(Loser eliminated, finishes fourth, earns $5,000)
Brazeau def. Sharp 607-596
ROUND 10 LOSERS BRACKET
(Winner advances to championship match; Loser eliminated, finishes third, earns $6,000)
Traber def. Brazeau 651-579
(Winner earns $17,000; Loser finishes second, earns $9,000)
Traber def. Packard, 720-691
Traber def. Packard, 673-622