The Chameleon Championship, the third of four “animal pattern” events being conducted a central part of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas, produced an historic television finals field – including the first Middle East player to make a PBA TV final – and a truly international semifinal field.
Six countries were represented in the six-game semifinal round Monday night: the U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark, England and Bahrain. Three of the players who emerged from the 16-player semifinal field to Sunday’s stepladder finals were no surprise. Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte powered his way into the No. 1 berth. Ageless Walter Ray Williams Jr., at age 53, qualified No. 2 for his 192nd career television appearance. Left-handed California attorney Scott Norton, who won his only PBA Tour title in the Chameleon Championship two years ago in WSOB II, will be No. 3.
But the surprise was Bahrain’s Fawaz Abdulla, 35, who rolled games of 249, 235, 278, 258, 234 and 239 in the semifinal round to advance from 11th to fourth, slipping past PBA stars Tommy Jones and Norm Duke in the final game while a contingent of Bahraini teammates celebrated every shot in support.
Abdulla, who bowled in WSOB III as a non-member, finished 18th in the 2011 Scorpion Championship with a 300 game, 44th in the Chameleon, 125th in the Viper and 162nd in the Shark Championship. Teammate Yousif Falah also cashed in 2011, finishing 27th in the Shark Championship. Both are members of the seven-man Bahrain national team which is coached by long-time international competitor Tim Mack of Indianapolis.
FINNISH NATIVE KOIVUNIEMI CARRIES INTERNATIONAL HOPES IN VIPER CHAMPIONSHIP
Native Finn Mika Koivuniemi, who actually is a dual citizen of Finland and the United States, will carry international hopes into the Viper Championship finals as the unofficial “U.S. vs. the world” competition inside the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling continues.
Koivuniemi, a two-time PBA Player of the Year and nine-time PBA Tour titlist, qualified No. 3 for the Viper Championship finals – the second of four “animal pattern” championships – during Sunday’s late semifinal round. He’ll meet Mike Fagan of Dallas in the opening match of the stepladder finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the special arena setting inside South Point’s Exhibition Hall A. Rounding out the Viper field will be top qualifier Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y., who won his only PBA Tour title on the Viper pattern in 2008, and No. 2 Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., who will make his first TV appearance of the 2012 WSOB. Rash set a World Series record in 2011 when he qualified for the first five TV finals, and a total of six TV shows in seven events.
FOLLOW THE WORLD SERIES ON XTRA FRAME, LIVE SCORING
Bowling fans in Iceland are following the World Series exploits of Hafthor Hardarson. In Saudi Arabia, fans are tracking cousins Abdul Hakim Al Saud and Mohammed Al Saud, princes in the Saudi royal family. Ditto for bowling fans in Sweden, Colombia, Finland, Australia and 11 other countries that have competitors involved WSOB IV.
The steadily growing fan base is following the PBA action on Xtra Frame’s online bowling channel, which is covering all World Series qualifying and match play rounds. Many of the players also are keeping their own Facebook and Twitter followers informed of their daily progress. And pba.com gives fans another option, providing “live scoring” as each round unfolds.
The ability for the PBA to reach fans around the world has never been more extensive. To subscribe to Xtra Frame, visit pba.com. Special one-day rates are available exclusively during the WSOB for $3.99. One-month subscriptions are offered for $7.99 and a full-year subscription is only $64.99.
THURSDAY IS DEADLINE FOR SILENT AUCTION TO BENEFIT TONY REYES FAMILY
Reminder: Thursday at 6 p.m. (Pacific time) is the deadline to bid on the wide variety of items being offered in the Tony Reyes Memorial Silent Auction which is being conducted as part of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling. Photos and a brief description of each item being offered in the auction is available on pba.com., including instructions are included on how to place a bid on-site, or via email or telephone.
Reyes, a PBA Tour champion, died on Sept. 28 of injuries sustained in a traffic accident near his northern California home.
● The new 2012-13 PBA Yearbook, an 80-page review of the season past and a preview of the new season, is now available on-site at PBA events and through the “shop” link on the pba.com home page. A variety of other PBA-logoed items are available online, including some great gift ideas for the holiday season.
● Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski wrote a colorful feature on Iceland’s Hafthor Hardarson in Monday’s Review-Journal sports section. You can read all about Iceland’s first PBA member via a link to the column on pba.com’s “In The News” section.
● Through three events, there have been 17 300 games bowled in WSOB competition by 17 different players.