Malott to Bowl for First Major Title in PBA World Championship

by PBA Editor September 3, 2009 19:00
Reigning Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, will get his chance to win the PBA World Championship and his first Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour major title on Dec. 13 at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan.
Malott, who entered the best-of-seven-game, single-elimination match play portion of the tournament as the No. 1 qualifier, survived an upset-filled day Friday at Thunderbowl Lanes, defeating Sweden’s Martin Larsen, 4-3, and Jeff Carter of Springfield, Ill., 4-1, to advance to the championship round.
Thomas Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich.; Rhino Page, Wesley Chapel, Fla., and Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa., also advanced to the finals with victories Friday night.
Earning berths in the Women’s World Championships title match were Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix and Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J. Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich., and Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Wash., are the Senior World Championships finalists.
It was a day filled with upsets, however, as 11 of the 16 men, women and seniors who earned byes for two rounds were eliminated during Friday’s early rounds.
 “That’s something that always happens in this event,” Malott, the only top 8 survivor in the men’s field, said. “The guys ahead of you get two matches to see how the lanes are going to set up, but I’ll take my chances with two byes any day. At least it guarantees you’ll be in the top 16.
“I made a risky move against Martin (Larsen), and it worked, and I was able to shoot 279 at him in the last game to win the match,” Malott continued. “I kind of wish we could keep the tour going because every week of the World Series, I’ve been getting better. Hopefully I can end it with a title on Sunday (in the PBA Shark Championship), and then go for my first major title in December.”
“It wasn’t just a tough day; it’s been a tough month,” Page said, “but what a way to finish it. You’d ideally like to carry the momentum of the tournament into the TV show, but that won’t happen in this case. I’m just excited I have to wait until December.”
Smallwood, who is bowling on the PBA Tour only because he was laid off from General Motors earlier in the year, will bowl O’Neill in the first World Championship semifinal match in December. Each is looking for his first PBA Tour title.
“I won't say this has been a dream month for me, but it has exceeded expectations,” Smallwood said. “I was hoping to come out of here maybe in the top 15 in points or make a couple top eight finishes, so I'm pretty happy. This has validated what I can do out here.”
“I’m thrilled,” O’Neill said of making his third TV final of the World Series. “It’s been tough to put your opponent away here, even when you’re up 3-0. But now I’ve got to take it to the next level.”
Sullins, the only top four Senior qualifier to advance, slipped past Kerry Painter of Henderson, Nev., 4-3, and Brian Brazeau of Ocala, Fla., 4-3. Sullins, who made the championship round for the fourth time in six PBA Senior Tour events, hasn’t won a PBA title since winning in Windsor Locks, Conn., 15 years ago.
“It was fun, exhilarating, pressure-packed,” Sullins said. “It was like, ‘Holy cow, throw the ball, Batman!’ but in a good way.”
Miller knocked out No. 4 Dave Patchen of Oregon, Ohio, 4-1, and won a tense 4-3 contest over four-time PBA Senior Tour Player of the Year Tom Baker of King, N.C., in his semifinal match.
“I’ve bowled Baker many times on the regular Tour and the Senior Tour and he was always especially tough to bowl against,” Miller said. “On the Senior Tour it seems like he's gotten the best of me, so it was nice to turn the tables this time.”
The top two Women’s qualifiers will meet in their TV final. Pluhowsky defeated Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, 4-1, and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 4-3, to earn her third television finals berth of the World Series. No. 2 Kulick defeated Diandra Asbaty of Chicago, 4-3, and Missy Bellinder of Fullerton, Calif., 4-2.
“My brain hurts,” Kulick said. “Those were some good matches. I think my advantage was moving in to where my opponents were playing so I could take advantage of what they were doing.”
Pluhowsky, the 2006 USBC Queens champion and a three-time U.S. Amateur champion, will be trying for her second major title and her second PBA Women’s Series presented by BOWL.COM title. “This is my third TV show of the World Series, so I’m happy,” she said. “Anything can happen in one game on TV, but getting there is the biggest part.”
The Women’s and Senior World Championship title matches will be contested Saturday at noon for delayed telecast to open the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season on ESPN on Sunday, Oct. 25. The men’s finals will be contested live on ESPN on Dec. 13 at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan.
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Sept. 4
Round of 8 (best of 7 games, losers eliminated and earned $6,300; winners advanced to live ESPN finals on Sunday, Dec. 13, at Northrock Lanes, Wichita, Kan.)
Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, def. Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 4-1
Rhino Page, Wesley Chapel, Fla., def. Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla.,  4-1
Thomas Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., def. Dave D'Entremont, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, 4-2
Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., def. Steve Rogers, Bourbonnais, Ill., 4-2
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Sept. 4
Semifinal Round (best of 7 games, losers eliminated and earned $3,800; winners advanced to title match Saturday)
Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Wash., def. Tom Baker, King, N.C., 4-3
Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Twp., Mich., def. Brian Brazeau, Ocala, Fla., 4-3
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Sept. 4
Semifinal Round (best of 7 games, losers eliminated and earned $4,000; winners advanced to title match Saturday)
Shannon Pluhowsky, Phoenix, def. Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 4-3

Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., def. Missy Bellinder, Fullerton, Calif., 4-2

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