LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Former two-time Collegiate Bowler of the Year Dan MacLelland of Saginaw, Mich., held an 86–pin lead over Finland’s Osku Palermaa after the first round of match play in the $1 million Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes Thursday night.
The 24 players still in contention will bowl two more eight-game match play rounds Friday to determine the four players who will compete for the PBA-record $250,000 first prize in Saturday’s live stepladder finals on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Eastern (11:30 a.m. Pacific).
MacLelland, a Windsor, Ontario native who has returned to Saginaw Valley State University to complete his sociology degree, advanced from fourth place to first at the end of qualifying earlier Thursday, and posted a 4-4 match play record Thursday night to retain his lead with a 42-game total of 9,773 pins. Palermaa and Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel, Fla., also had 4-4 records to finish the round in second and third place with 9,687 and 9,644 totals, respectively. Colombia’s Andres Gomez rode back-to-back 279 games into a jump into fourth place with a 9,634 pinfall total.
“It’s overwhelming, really,” the 25-year-old right-hander said of his first-place status. “I’m trying to not look too far ahead.
“Right now, I’m frustrated with the way I threw the ball tonight,” he added. “I’m not very happy. I have to make better shots tomorrow and watch the players on the next pair of lanes so I can keep track of the transition in conditions better.
“Guys are closing in,” MacLelland added. “There’s a little more pressure with every shot. I’m trying to keep a clear head and have fun. I’m not even thinking about (the $250,000 first prize and title). I’m just trying to make the top four.”
MacLelland, a three-time Collegiate All-American at Saginaw Valley State between 2007 and 2009, qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning his only PBA Regional title in Michigan in June of 2010. He has never won a Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour national title, but he came close during the PBA World Series of Bowling in November when he was the GEICO Shark Championship leader before losing in the title match to Finland’s Osku Palermaa, 173-149.
“I kind of feel like I left something behind in that one,” MacLelland said. “I was disappointed in the Shark final. It just didn’t pan out,” he added, “but I want to be back on that stage again. Bowling full-time on the PBA Tour has been my dream my whole life.”
Among players who remain in contention are Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, winner of last Sunday’s PBA World Championship, in sixth place, and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., a 47-time PBA champion who needs to win a Tournament of Champions title to become the third player in history to complete the PBA Triple Crown and Grand Slam. Williams was in 17th place after 42 games and faces an uphill climb with only 16 games to go on Friday.
Defending champion Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., finished the tournament in 49th place.
46TH PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Red Rock Lanes, Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday, Jan. 20
SEVENTH ROUND (after 42 games, including won-lost records and match play bonus pins)
1, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 4-4, 9,773.
2, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 4-4, 9,687.
3, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 4-4, 9,644.
4, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7-1, 9,634.
5, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5-3, 9,610.
6, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 4-4, 9,576.
7, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 5-3, 9,561.
8, Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 4-4, 9,533.
9, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 4-4, 9,494.
10, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 4-3-1, 9,429.
11, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 3-5, 9,424.
12, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 2-6, 9,417.
13, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 5-3, 9,407.
14, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 5-3, 9,404.
15, Robert Smith, Hong Kong, 4-4, 9,307.
16, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 3-5, 9,265.
17, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 5-3, 9,238.
18, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 3-5, 9,233.
19, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3-5, 9,231.
20, Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 4-3-1, 9,225.
21, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 3-5, 9,202.
22, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 6-2, 9,176.
23, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 2-6, 9,069.
24, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 2-6, 8,980.