LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Dan MacLelland of Saginaw, Mich., averaged 253.2 for his final seven qualifying games Thursday afternoon to lead the top 24 qualifiers into the match play finals of the $1 million Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes Thursday.
The leaders after 34 qualifying games will bowl 24 additional head-to-head matches in three eight-game rounds Thursday night and 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 Canadian citizen who is completing his sociology degree at Saginaw Valley State University, advanced from fourth place to first with a total of 7,894 pins, to take an 86-pin lead over Finland’s two-handed star, Osku Palermaa, and a 94-pin edge over fifth-round leader Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel, Fla.
“I drilled a new ball for the fresh condition today,” MacLelland said. “I had been struggling on the fresh oil and wanted to make sure I had a ball that would work. After I shot 235 the first game, I was ecstatic.
“It’s overwhelming, really,” the 25-year-old right-hander said. “I’m trying to not look too far ahead. I’m just trying to take it one frame, one match at a time.”
MacLelland, a three-time collegiate All-American at Saginaw Valley State, qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning a PBA Central Region title 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 early November when he led the GEICO Shark Championship qualifying only to lose the title to Palermaa, 173-149.
“I kind of feel like I left something behind in that one,” MacLelland said. “I learned a lot during the World Series about match play and the amount of games we’re bowling this week, which is about the same as it was during the World Series. It helped my physical and mental outlook, just being prepared for what to expect this week. But I was disappointed in the Shark final. It didn’t pan out, but I want to be back on that stage again.”
Among players who survived the cut to match play were Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, winner of last Sunday’s PBA World Championship, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., the PBA Tour’s all-time titles leader with 47. Williams, who rolled a 254 in his final qualifying game to remain in contention, needs a Tournament of Champions title to become the third player in history to complete the PBA Triple Crown and Grand Slam.
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
SIXTH ROUND (after 34 games; top 24 advance to match play)
1, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 7,894.
2, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 7,808.
3, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 7,800.
4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 7,715.
5, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 7,709.
6, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 7,657.
7, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 7,647.
8, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 7,625.
9, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7,618.
10, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 7,613.
11, Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 7,612.
12, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 7,529.
13, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 7,498.
14, (tie) Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., and Robert Smith, Hong Kong, 7,495.
16, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7,459.
17, Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 7,454.
18, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 7,428.
19, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 7,416.
20, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 7,404.
21, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 7,402.
22, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 7,392.
23, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 7,384.
24, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 7,379.
Other Cashers (after 34 games):
25, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 7,377, $7,000.
26, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 7,370, $6,500.
27, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 7,367, $6,000.
28, (tie) Jason Wojnar, Chicago, and Stuart Williams, England, 7,365, $5,350.
30, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 7,356, $5,000.
31, Paul Gibson, Brunswick, Ohio, 7,354, $4,800.
32, Sean Swanson, Springfield, Mo., 7,293, $4,600.
33, Diandra Asbaty, Chicago, 7,265, $4,500.
34, Brian Ziesig, Levittown, N.Y., 7,264, $4,400.
35, (tie) Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 7,255, $4,250.
37, Tony Reyes, San Bruno, Calif., 7,236, $4,100.
38, Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., 7,231, $4,000.
39, Todd Book, Wapakoneta, Ohio, 7,230, $3,900.
40, Tim Criss, Bel Air, Md., 7,215, $3,800.
41, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 7,211, $3,700.
42, Mike Miller, Albuquerque, N.M., 7,202, $3,600.
43, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 7,199, $3,500.
44, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 7,180, $3,400.
45, Bob Learn Jr., Macomb, Mich., 7,168, $3,300.
46, Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 7,159, $3,200.
47, Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 7,152, $3,100.
48, Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Essex, Md., 7,151, $3,000.
49, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 7,145, $2,900.
50, Ritchie Allen, Columbia, S.C., 7,131, $2,800.
51, Eric Forkel, Las Vegas, 7,130, $2,700.
52, Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, Kan., 7,094, $2,600.
53, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 6,723, $2,500.