LAS VEGAS – England’s Dom Barrett used memories of a disappointing performance a year earlier to propel himself into the top qualifying position for the Professional Bowlers Association World Championship stepladder finals field Thursday at South Point Bowling Center.
Barrett, 28, who won his only PBA Tour title in the 2011 Scorpion Championship, put lessons learned in last year’s World Championship to work Thursday. After momentarily surrendering the lead to reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., he won five of his final eight matches to clinch the No. 1 berth in the finals by 169 pins over Rash. Barrett averaged 236.40 over 52 games of World Series qualifying and match play to finish with a 12,713 pinfall total. Rash posted a 12,544 total.
Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, qualified third with 12,304 pins; 2010 World Champion Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., earned the fourth spot with a thrilling final game, and 37-time PBA Tour champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., locked up the fifth spot by 27 pins over fellow PBA50 Tour competitor Tom Baker of King, N.C., despite Baker’s 276-239 win over Australia’s Jason Belmonte in the final match.
The battle for the final two spots in the finals was settled when Smallwood threw 11 consecutive strikes after an open in the first frame to defeat Mika Koiviuniemi of Hartland, Mich., 279-189, while Weber defeated Fagan, 268-238, to hold onto his place in the top five.
Weber also is in the hunt for the first PBA Player of the Year award in his 33-year career.
“I just tried to stay focused and not get too excited,” the 51-year-old Weber said. “People don’t think this is hard work? Please come out and try it.”
Regarding his chances for Player of the Year, he said, “You’ve got to be in the top five to have a shot at winning. I came into the (PBA World Series of Bowling V) thinking if I could win two tournaments, I would have a legitimate shot at Player of the Year. I know Belmo (Australia’s Jason Belmonte) is out front right now, but if I can win a second major, I’ll have a chance.”
Weber won the PBA Tournament of Champions in April for his 10th career major championship, tying the legendary Earl Anthony for the most PBA major titles. He will have to win four matches, including a victory over Barrett, to win an 11th major.
“The last round happened the way I hoped it would,” Barrett said. “I had a good round today. I knew Sean (Rash) was going to have a good day, so to come in today with all of the experience I got last year helped a lot.
“Last year I was leading going into the last eight games and dropped from first to 10th. To come in this year in the same position, I don’t think I could have bowled any better. Like any great athlete, I think you learn more from failures than success. I know what that felt like and today I controlled my emotions, how I was feeling and I got myself into the best position I could to execute shots.”
But Barrett wasn’t about to predict victory in Sunday’s finals.
“I won the Scorpion title on the same lanes, in the same arena, two years ago so I know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve got 10 more frames. I’ll bowl the best I can and hope it’s enough.”
The World Championship stepladder finals will take place Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PT on a special two-lane installation in South Point Exhibition Hall B. ESPN will air the finals on Sunday, Dec. 29, at 1 p.m. ET. First prize in the 2012-13 season’s final major championship is $50,000.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Oct. 31
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 52 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to ESPN stepladder finals; telecast is Sunday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m. ET)
1, Dom Barrett, England, 14-10, 12,713.
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 18-6, 12,544.
3, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 13-11, 12,304.
4, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 15-9, 12,247.
5, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 14-10, 12,243.
6, Tom Baker, King, N.C., 14-10, 12,216, $8,100.
7, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 14-10, 12,140, $7,000.
8, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 12-12, 12,129, $6,500.
9, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 13-10-1, 12,119, $6,000.
10, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 11-13, 12,105, $5,500.
11, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 11-13, 12,103, $5,000.
12, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 14-10, 12,079, $4,900.
13, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 14-10, 12,069, $4,700.
14, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 13-11, 12,058, $4,400.
15, Todd Book, Russells Point, Ohio, 13-10-1, 12,042, $4,200.
16, Paul Moor, England, 11-13, 11,952, $4,000.
17, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 10-14, 11,908, $3,800.
18, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 10-14, 11,816, $3,600.
19, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 12-12, 11,713, $3,500.
20, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 10-14, 11,665, $3,400.
21, Jake Peters, Decatur, Ill., 12-12, 11,641, $3,300.
22, Johnathan Bower, Middletown, Pa., 10-14, 11,564, $3,300.
23, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 4-20, 11,465, $3,100.
24, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 3-13, 11,200, $3,000.
300 Games: None.