BALTIMORE, Md. – Defending champion Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, retained a 91-pin lead over fellow Texan Chris Barnes in the Lumber Liquidators Marathon Open at AMF Country Club Lanes Thursday, but the biggest move was by 50-year-old Walter Ray Williams Jr. in his bid to lock up a record seventh career PBA Player of the Year title.
Malott, who is about to surrender his 2008-09 Player of the Year crown, averaged 234.59 through the first four rounds of the Marathon Open to finish with a 32-game total of 7,507 pins. Barnes, who was Player of the Year prior to Malott, had a 7,416 total after Thursday’s seven-game rounds on the PBA’s Viper and Chameleon lane conditions. Both players are trying for their first title of the 2009-10 season.
But Williams made the boldest move, advancing from 14th place at the start of the day to move into third place with a 7,366 total. The PBA Tour’s all-time leading title winner is seeking his 48th title and third of the season. He also is trying to become the oldest PBA Player of the Year ever. He needs to make Sunday’s TV finals field to break a tie with co-points leader Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., to win that title outright and break another tie with the legendary Earl Anthony, who also is a six-time PBA Player of the Year, for the most Player of the Year titles in PBA history.
O’Neill is still in the picture, but he barely survived Thursday’s cut to 32 players who will advance to Friday morning’s Scorpion round in 28th place. Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, who has an outside shot at Player of the Year if he wins the Marathon Open, advanced from 33rd place to 11th.
Malott’s focus, however, is to hold off Barnes, Williams and a tightly packed field of challengers in his bid for his seventh career title.
“I’m surviving,” Malott said. “The guys at the top are hanging around where I’m at, and the guys in middle bowling well and bunching up more than I like to see, so Friday I need to bowl better and try to build a bit of a lead so I can relax a little.
“I bowled OK today, not outstanding by any means,” he added. “I struggled in the Viper round with spares. That’s a funk I’ve been in, but my spare game on the Chameleon pattern tonight was a whole lot better. Hopefully tomorrow the Scorpion condition will soften up a little and I’ll be able to strike.”
The Lumber Liquidators Marathon Open is a seven-round tournament, with each round bowled on a different lane conditioning pattern. The top 32 survivors after Thursday’s competition will bowl seven games on the Scorpion pattern Friday morning, after which the field will be cut to the top 24 for another seven games on the Earl Anthony lane condition. Then field will be trimmed to 16 for a final seven-game round on the Dick Weber condition Saturday morning to determine the top five players after 53 games who will advance to the stepladder finals on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern. The tournament leader will select the lane condition to be used for the TV finals.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA TOUR
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS MARATHON OPEN
AMF Country Club Lanes, Baltimore, Thursday
FOURTH ROUND (after 32 games, after Viper and Chameleon rounds)
1, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 7,507.
2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 7,416.
3, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 7,366.
4, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 7,359.
5, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7,349.
6, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 7,329.
7, Brian Waliczek, Birch Run, Mich., 7,306.
8, Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., 7,282.
9, Robert Smith, Columbus, Ohio, 7,270.
10, Dave D'Entremont, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, 7,261.
11, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 7,251.
12, Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 7,247.
13, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 7,227.
14, Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., 7,225.
15, Stevie Weber, Chalmette, La., 7,214.
16, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 7,147.
17, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 7,146.
18, Tim Criss, Bel Air, Md., 7,138.
19, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 7,126.
20, Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Essex, Md., 7,102.
20, Todd Book, Wapakoneta, Ohio, 7,102.
22, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 7,100.
23, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 7,046.
24, Ryan Abel, Bel Aire, Kan., 7,035.
25, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 7,028.
26, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 7,010.
27, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 7,007.
28, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 6,958.
29, Billy Oatman, Chicago, 6,951.
30, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 6,935.
31, Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 6,934.
32, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 6,932.
FAILED TO ADVANCE:
33, George Lambert IV, Canada, 6,922, $1,100.
34, Bob Hale, Louisville, Ky., 6,897, $1,090.
35, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 6,892, $1,080.
36, D.J. Archer, Mineral Wells, Texas, 6,881, $1,170.
37, Chris Hans, Richmond, Va., 6,880, $1,060.
38, Eddie Graham, Centerville, Ohio, 6,862, $1,050.
39, Derek Sapp, Keokuk, Iowa, 6,847, $1,040.
40, Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 6,836, $1,030.
41, Ronnie Horton, Christiansburg, Va., 6,781, $1,020.
42, Bobby Hall II, Landover, Md., 6,779, $1,010.
43, Kevin Cartier, Beverly, N.J., 6,704, $1,000.
44, William Barlow, Edgewood, Md., 6,296, $1,000.
300 Games (9) – Brad Angelo, Michael Machuga, Derek Sapp, Ryan Shafer, D.J. Archer, Robert Smith, Mitch Beasley, Joe Ciccone, Brian Waliczek.