PBA Spare Shots: 15-Year-Old Wesley Low Jr. Becomes Youngest to Win PBA Regional Event

by Bill Vint April 4, 2013 07:19

Wesley Low Jr., at age 15, became the youngest bowler ever to win a PBA Regional title – breaking a 34-year-old record set by PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber in 1979 – when the two-handed competitor from Palmdale, Calif., defeated Deeronn Booker of Anaheim, Calif., 299-234, to win the PBA Non-Champion West tournament at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas on Friday, March 29.

Low, a member of Junior Team USA who was 29 days shy of his 16th birthday, lost his bid for a perfect game in the title match when he left an 8 pin on his final shot.

He does not get credit for a PBA title because he is not a member of the PBA, but his $1,500 in earnings will help build his USBC SMART scholarship fund. Weber won a PBA Midwest Regional title in St. Louis in 1979. Weber was a PBA member at that time, therefore earning credit for his title.

Low, who bowls with two hands from the left side of his body, finished third in the same non-champions event in 2012. The 2011 Teen Masters 14-Under champion defeated Chris Groom, Lancaster, Calif., 278-198, while Booker edged Rick Benard of Henderson, Nev., 225-217, in the semifinal round to set up the championship match.

On Sunday at South Point, amateur Andrew Graff of Las Vegas and Benard defeated amateur Gary Estep Jr. of Peoria, Ariz. and Andrew Cain of Phoenix, 477-447, to win the PBA Member/Non-Member West Doubles. The winners shared a $3,000 prize.


Overlooked in the onslaught of records Pete Weber set in winning the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis Sunday were the fact that he became the oldest player ever to win the TOC, at age 50 years, 221 days and he set a record for most years between TOC titles at 26.

The previous oldest TOC champion was the original – Joe Joseph – who won the inaugural Tournament of Champions in Indianapolis in 1962 at age 44. Weber won his first TOC title in 1987 in Akron, a stretch of 26 years before his second. The previous record between titles was 10 years between Mike Durbin’s first win in 1972 and his second in 1982. Durbin added a third TOC title in 1984.

As noted following his victory, Weber became the first player to complete the PBA Triple Crown (U.S. Open, Tournament of Champions and PBA World Championship) a second time. The only other player who is currently capable of matching that feat is Norm Duke, who has won the PBA World Championship three times, U.S. Open twice and TOC once. Walter Ray Williams Jr. has won the PBA World Championship and U.S. Open titles twice each, but has yet to win a TOC title.


The colorful competition jersey Chris Barnes designed for his close friend Mika Koivuniemi after defeating the Finnish-American star in the 2012 Bayer Advanced Aspirin World Bowling Tour Finals presented by the PBA is going on the auction block to raise money for Strike Out Diabetes, a charity Barnes and his wife Lynda have created in cooperation with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Dallas.

One of the Barnes’ twin sons, Troy, is afflicted with juvenile diabetes.

The one-of-a-kind Gemini jersey was created as part of an on-going wager between Barnes and Koivuniemi. Whomever wins a head-to-head match on television gets to provide colorful attire for his victim to wear the next time he appears on TV. After Barnes won the WBT match, 244-228, he created a pink jersey with unicorns, rainbows, a Swedish flag (Koivuniemi is Finnish…), a phonetic spelling of Koivuniemi’s name and more. Koivuniemi then wore the jersey during the ESPN-televised finals of the USBC Masters.

All proceeds from the sale of the special jersey, and a number of other donated items, will go to the Strike Out Diabetes charity event being held on April 27 in Lewisville, Texas. Click here for more information. To bid on any of the donated items, please send an email to auctions@pba.com including your name, contact telephone number and bid amount. The deadline for all bids is April 15.

After seven events on the 2013 WTBA World Bowling Tour schedule, Finnish-American star Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., and Missy Parkin of Lake Forest, Calif., lead the WBT men’s and women’s points races.

Koivuniemi picked up 40 points in the Kuwait Open and 8 in the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Munich, Germany, for a two-year composite total of 476 points. Sean Rash is second with 464 points, Mike Fagan third with 448 and Australia’s Jason Belmonte fourth with 418.

Parkin remains on top of the women's list with 506 points despite not competing in Kuwait or Germany. The U.S.-dominated women’s list includes Kelly Kulick in second (484 points) followed by Liz Johnson (373), Shannon Pluhowsky (305) and Diandra Asbaty (297 points).

Players are trying to finish among the top three in their respective categories to qualify for the World Bowling Tour Finals presented by the PBA which will be conducted as part of PBA World Series of Bowling V in Las Vegas in early November. The WBT’s next event is the It's Daejeon International Open Bowling Tournament, a major event on the tour, that will take place in Daejeon, Korea from July 7-13.


Riga Kalfas of Florence, Ky., and Bob Learn Jr. of Macomb, Mich., were winners in one-day PBA Central/Midwest Region events hosted by Georgetown Bowl in Fort Wayne, Ind., over the Easter weekend.

Kalfas defeated Craig Nidiffer of Trenton, Mich., by 42 pins to win the Best Deal Auto Central/Midwest Open on Saturday. The two-game cumulative pinfall eliminator title match featured the top four remaining players. Kalfas entered the final round with a 99-pin lead. While Nidiffer out-scored Kalfas, 478-425, in the final two games, Kalfas won the overall 15-game battle, 3,274-3,234, to claim his 16th PBA Regional title and a $2,000 prize.

On Sunday, Learn defeated Dale Csuhta of Wadsworth, Ohio, by 70 pins to win the PBA50 Bowling Gift.com Central/Midwest Open. Learn finished with a 9-1 match play record and an 18-game total of 4,323 pins to claim his 29th overall PBA Regional and $1,500.

PBA Regional competition ramps up in April with a full schedule of events, starting with the April 5-6 weekend when Milan Lanes in Milan, Ill., will host two one-day “reduced entry fee” Allstate Midwest/Central Open events and the South Region will conduct a PBA50 Fort Myers (Fla.) All Star Lanes South Open.

The April 12-14 weekend includes the Firelake/Flintco Southwest Open presented by Brunswick at Firelake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla.; the Earl Anthony and PBA50 Earl Anthony West/Northwest Memorial Classics at Earl Anthony’s Dublin (Calif.) Bowl, and the PBA50 Victory Lanes Central Open presented by Brunswick in Galion, Ohio.

The West/Northwest Regions head to Hawaii April 18-23, starting with the John Gonsalves Memorial West/Northwest Open presented by Storm at Schofield Barracks on April 18, and followed by the Naval Station West/Northwest Open at Pearl Harbor over the weekend. The Hawaii tour wraps up with the Kona West/Northwest Open at KB Xtreme Lanes in Kailua April 22-23.

Also on the April 19-21 schedule are the Debbie and Leo Nunan Memorial Central Open presented by Track at AMF Stardust Lanes in Grove City, Ohio; the Rocky Mount South Open at The Bowling Center in Rocky Mount, N.C.; and a one-day “reduced entry fee” Midwest Region event at Bowl-A-Vard Lanes in Madison, Wis.

Closing out the month will be the PBA50 Cherokee Lanes South Open presented by Motiv in Canton, Ga., over the April 25-27 weekend along with the Rockaway Lanes Eastern Open presented by Storm in Rockaway, N.J., and the Country Club Lanes Central Open in Elkhart, Ind.

For complete PBA regional schedule and entry information, visit pba.com and click on “Regional Tours” under the Schedules tab.


● PBA Tour champion Dominic Barrett, along with Bernie Caterer, Pauline Buck and Kirsten Penny will be the first inductees in the newly-formed United Kingdom Tenpin Hall of Fame during the Weber Cup at England’s Barnsley Metrodome in October.

● Entries are being accepted on a first-come basis for the GEICO PBA Summer Swing May 20-June 2 in Milwaukee. The entry fee package for all four tournaments will be $600 for PBA members and $750 for non-members. The tournament field will be limited to 176 entrants. The Badger, Wolf and Bear Opens – three new “animal pattern” events – each will offer a $50,000 prize fund. The Milwaukee Open will pay $100,000 in prize money. All four tournaments also will award berths in the 2014 PBA Tournament of Champions.

Players also will be allowed to enter the first three tournaments individually ($225 for members and $285 for non-members for the Badger, Wolf and Bear Opens), but only those who have bowled all three events will be eligible for the Milwaukee Open.

● ESPN Classic will re-air the 2009 PBA King of Bowling finals on Monday, April 8, at 11 p.m. ET.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.