The inaugural Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling got off to a wild start Thursday, but in the end Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., stood on the top rung for the stepladder finals of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour Motor City Open.
Williams entered the final position round match at Taylor Lanes tied for the top spot with fifth-round leader Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, and defeated the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year, 185-173. Ironically, the top two players were one-two at the start of match play on Wednesday and bowled a tie match.
Meanwhile, on the adjacent pair of lanes, Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., had clinched the third spot in the five-player stepladder final round, but by defeating Finland’s two-handed specialist Osku Palermaa, 258-205, he knocked Palermaa out of the finals.
Palermaa’s fate was sealed because on the next pair of lanes, Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., and Rhino Page of Wesley Chapel, Fla. – who were tied for fifth place going into the position round – bowled a 218-218 tie to remain tied for fifth. That’s because the fourth spot was taken by Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., who rolled a 300 game against Eugene McCune of Munster, Ind., to jump past O’Neill, Page and Palermaa in his final game.
The fifth spot in the finals was settled when O’Neill defeated Page in a one-game roll-off, 190-171.
Williams, who is seeking a 46th career title to extend his own PBA record, said he came into the final comfortable about his chances of remaining in the top five, “but after that I wanted to be the leader. Winning one game for the title is a lot easier than winning two, I don’t care what anyone says.”
Barnes battled Williams for the lead throughout match play. “I thought I bowled pretty good today,” Barnes said. “I was 60 pins over (a 200 average) for my first three games in the morning, but I looked up and I had lost 130 pins to Walter Ray. But he’s the best all-time, so you can’t feel bad about that.”
Weber, a 34-time PBA champion, was content to lock up the third position. “Not bad,” he said. “This is the second time in my 30-year career I’ve made a TV show in the first tournament of the year.”
Jones, who bowled only the third 300 game of the tournament, said he got lucky. “The other side of the center played completely different,” the 12-time PBA Tour winner said. “Fortunately I made the most of the opportunity. Now it’s all on me. I didn’t bowl very well last year, so now it’s a matter of making good shots and getting on the TV show more often.”
O’Neill, the only non-titlist among the top five, was elated. “That was something,” he said. “I’ve never been part of anything like that, especially considering I was more than 100 pins away from the show with four games to go. I bowled 740 for three games just to give myself a chance. And then to make this show is something special. It’s going to be four legends and me.”
The Motor City Open stepladder finals will be held Saturday, Sept. 5, at Thunderbowl Lanes in nearby Allen Park for broadcast of ESPN on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. Eastern.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA MOTOR CITY OPEN
Taylor Lanes, Taylor, Mich., Aug. 6
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (After 39 games, including match play records and bonus pins; top five advance to stepladder finals Sept. 5 at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich.)
1, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 15-8-1, 9,302
2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 16-7-1, 9,260
3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 16-8, 9,169
4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 13-11, 8,935
5, x-Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 13-11, 8,907
6, Rhino Page, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 14-9-1, 8,907, $5,500
7, Osku Palermaa, Espoo, Finland, 13-10-1, 8,897, $5,000
8, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 12-12, 8,860, $4,500
x-O’Neill defeated Page, 190-171, in a one-game roll-off to break a tie for fifth place.
9, Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 10-14, 8,771, $4,200
10, Andres Gomez, Bogota, Colombia, 13-11, 8,761, $4,000
11, Dave Arnold, Dublin, Calif., 11-13, and Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., 12-12, 8,750, $3,700
13, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 13-10-1, 8,692, $3,400
14, Troy Wollenbecker, Miami, 14-10, 8,683, $3,200
15, John May, Lincolnton, N.C., 12-12, 8,670, $3,000
16, Danny Wiseman, Baltimore, 13-11, 8,665, $2,900
17, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 9-15, 8,630, $2,800
18, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 10-14, 8,617, $2,700
19, Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., 11-13, 8,602, $2,650
20, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 11-13, 8,563, $2,600
21, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 8-16, and Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 10-14, 8,514, $2,525
23, Dave D'Entremont, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, 9-15, 8,466, $2,450
24, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 8-16, 8,306, $2,400