LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Former collegiate bowling star Dan MacLelland of Saginaw, Mich., carried a 94–pin lead into Friday night’s final round of match play in the $1 million Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes, but the biggest move during Friday’s early round was made by fellow Saginaw resident Tom Smallwood who advanced from 13th place to sixth.
MacLelland, who took the lead at the end of qualifying Thursday afternoon and has remained in front ever since, finished with an 8-8 match play record and a 50-pin total of 11,620 pins. Smallwood, the fairytale story of the 2009-10 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season, swept all eight matches Friday afternoon to close to within seven pins of advancing to Saturday’s final four.
The top four players after Friday night’s eight-game match play round 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).
Tom Daugherty of Wesley Chapel, Fla., was in second place with 11,526 pins followed by Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., at 11,511 and Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, at 11,499. Barnes, who is trying to win back-to-back PBA major titles, won the PBA World Championship last Sunday. Colombia’s Andres Gomez was five pins behind Barnes and two pins ahead of Smallwood. Finland’s Osku Palermaa and Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa. – Sunday’s PBA World Championship runner-up – also were within striking distance of the top four spots.
“I thought I threw the ball better today than I did yesterday,” MacLelland said. “My scores might not show it, but my timing and the way I threw the ball was better. I’m happy with the results.
“I’m definitely (feeling the pressure),” the three-time Saginaw Valley State University collegiate All-American said. “When you’re trying to maintain a 100-pin lead over second and you see guys getting close, you start to feel it a little in the arm swing.”
Smallwood is the former General Motors auto worker who won last season’s PBA World Championship just months after being laid off during the economic downturn. He needs to finish in the top four Friday night for a chance to win his second career PBA Tour title.
“The breaks started going my way today,” Smallwood said. “It seemed like when my opponent stepped up in the 10th needing a strike, he missed. Or I’d get the strike I needed. The lanes felt pretty good to me all day. All week when I played a deeper angle and I didn’t feel like I could strike. I played farther right today and it felt much better.”
While Smallwood has only advanced to the television finals one time since his fairytale victory, he isn’t disappointed or concerned about being in position to bowl for a $250,000 prize.
“I’m not disappointed with the way things have been going,” he said. “You just try to make the show every week and give yourself a chance. I’ve never thrown a strike first frame worrying about whether first prize is $10,000 or $250,000. It doesn’t make any difference.
“The thing I’ve learned is that great bowlers know they are going to throw a great shot when they need one. A good bowler has doubts. I’m still a good bowler, not a great one.”
46TH PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Red Rock Lanes, Las Vegas, Nev., Friday, Jan. 21
EIGHTH ROUND (after 50 games, including won-lost records and match play bonus pins)
1, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 8-8, 11,620.
2, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 10-6, 11,526.
3, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 10-6, 11,511.
4, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 9-7, 11,499.
5, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 10-6, 11,494.
6, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 13-3, 11,492.
7, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 9-7, 11,476.
8, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 8-8, 11,463.
9, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 10-6, 11,360.
10, Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 6-10, 11,287.
11, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 8-7-1, 11,219.
12, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 7-9, 11,175.
13, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 8-8, 11,128.
14, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 8-8, 11,124.
15, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 11-5, 11,111, $100.
16, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 4-12, 11,089, $100.
17, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 9-7, 11,081.
18, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 6-10, 11,019.
19, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 4-12, 10,992.
20, Robert Smith, Hong Kong, 7-9, 10,958.
21, Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 7-8-1, 10,951.
22, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 7-9, 10,873.
23, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 8-8, 10,838.
24, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 4-12, 10,751.
300 Game – Doug Kent.