England’s Dom Barrett, in his American television debut, defeated Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 247-204, to win the Professional Bowlers Association Scorpion Open at South Point Casino and Hotel. The finals aired Sunday on ESPN.
The Scorpion Open was the third of four PBA “animal pattern” championships contested during the third annual PBA World Series of Bowling and the fourth straight World Series title – including the PBA World Championship – won by international players.
Barrett joined countryman Stuart Williams, winner of the Bayer Viper Open, as the second English player ever to win a PBA Tour title. He came into the finals as the top qualifier and worked his way through two elimination matches before throwing his best game at the hard-luck Rash, who was once again plagued by a fatal error.
In the opening game of the eliminator-format finals, Rash led the four-man field with a 217 game. Barrett was right behind with a 207. Hometown favorite Dave Wodka of Henderson, Nev., nipped Patrick Allen of Baltimore, 177-173, to remain in contention. Allen, as low man, was eliminated.
In game two, Rash again led the survivors, using a late string of five strikes to post a 221. Barrett advanced to the title match with a 214. Three open frames led to a 164 game and doomed Wodka’s hopes for his second PBA Tour title.
In the title match, Rash and Barrett both struck on six of their first seven shots, but Rash’s unconverted 2-4-8-10 split in the third frame gave Barrett an 18-pin advantage. Both players converted single pin spares in the eighth and ninth frames before Barrett doubled in the 10th frame to claim the $15,000 first prize and a berth in the Round of 36 for the end-of-season PBA Tournament of Champions.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Barrett said. “I kind of got to go through some of the emotions with Stu (Williams) after he won his title, and that gave me a little insight about what was going to happen to me if I got this far.
“I just wanted to throw the best 10 shots I could, and I think most of them were pretty good,” he added. “The thing to remember is the lane is still 60 feet and there are 10 pins at the other end, and you can’t control your opponent. You just have to make a good shot yourself.”
For Rash and the United States professionals, the loss was another bitter disappointment. In four straight World Series of Bowling finals appearances, Rash has finished third in the PBA World Championship and Bayer Viper Open, and second in the Chameleon and Scorpion Opens. He also finished second to Mika Koivuniemi in the WTBA World Bowling Tour Finals to kick off the World Series. And the U.S. has yet to win a World Series title. Following Koivuniemi’s win in the WBT Finals for Finland, fellow Finn Osku Palermaa won the PBA World Championship, England’s Williams won the Bayer Viper Open, and Australia’s Jason Belmonte won the Chameleon Open.
“If you were to roll the calendar back 10 years, this wouldn’t be happening,” Barrett said of the surprising international dominance. “But we have so many international tournaments now, and the PBA Tour has opened events like the World Series to international players, that the experience we’ve been able to get on the European and Asian tours has really meant a lot.
“The tournaments we have in Europe have televised finals, but nothing quite like this,” he added. “The arena setting here reminds me of the Weber Cup back home, so when I walked in and saw how close this setting was to the Weber Cup, it made me feel right at home.”
Barrett didn’t want to rate himself against Williams as to who the best British bowler might be, but he said, “Stu was the best after the Viper Open, and I put myself into the running today. But the fact is, we’re the only two Englishmen to win a PBA Tour title, so that’s what is really cool.”
The final “animal pattern” championship, the GEICO Shark Open, will be contested on Sunday, March 4, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. Rash will appear in his fifth straight elimination final along with top qualifier Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas; Jason Belmonte of Australia, and reigning PBA Player of the Year Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich.
PBA SCORPION OPEN
South Point Exhibition Hall, Las Vegas
Round One (lowest score eliminated): Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 217; Dom Barrett, England, 207; Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 177; Patrick Allen, Baltimore, 173 ($4,000).
Round Two (lowest score eliminated): Rash 221, Barrett 214, Wodka 164 ($4,500).
Championship: Barrett ($15,000) def. Rash ($7,500), 247-204.