WAUWATOSA, Wis. – Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, started the final round of match play in the Lucas Oil PBA Milwaukee Open Thursday night with a 300-237 victory over E.J. Tackett and raced away from the field to capture the top qualifying berth for Sunday’s Milwaukee Open stepladder finals at AMF Bowlero.
Barnes, a 43-year-old 14-time PBA Tour champion, defeated PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., in his second match and toppled Weber from the lead one game later. Barnes, who hasn’t won a PBA title in the U.S. since the 2011 PBA World Championship, won seven of his eight matches in the Badger match play round to finish with a 59-game average of 228.83 and a total of 14,011 pins, topping Weber by 289 pins.
Weber, who led the field after the morning Wolf round, lost his first six matches, but had a big enough margin to hold onto second place with a total of 13,722 pins, 39 ahead of his long-time rival and fellow 37-time PBA Tour title winner, Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla. Duke won his first five Badger round matches to lock himself into the stepladder finals.
Barnes qualified for his second television final in the GEICO PBA Summer Swing series. He also was No. 2 qualifier for the Bear Open finals. Duke and Weber had previously qualified for Saturday’s Lucas Oil Wolf Open finals in the No. 2 and No. 4 spots, respectively.
“I’m the young guy among the top three, so I came out of the tournament in pretty good shape,” Barnes said. “I’m a practice guy anyway, so all of the games didn’t really bother me.”
As top qualifier, Barnes earned the right to select the lane condition that will be used in the stepladder finals, and he selected the Badger pattern.
“Tonight was pretty good. The Badger played a lot tighter here at Bowlero on the synthetic lanes than it did on the natural wood at AMF Waukesha,” Barnes said. “There aren’t 10 other guys who can adjust ball speed as well as I can, so I was able to keep my ball speed down without losing my rev rate. Combine that with a new ball I used, and things worked out pretty well.”
Barnes has historically struggled as the top qualifier – he’s 2-10 in that position – but he said that is no longer a problem.
“When you look at my whole history, when I started working with Mark Baker a few years ago, he caught a flaw that was happening to me on TV and since then, my record on TV has improved significantly. If not my record, at least my confidence has improved significantly. There was a time when there was a lot of baggage with being the top qualifier, but now I know who I am, where I come from and where my mistakes come from. I’m comfortable in my own skin now.”
Seven players battled throughout the final round for the final two berths in the Milwaukee Open finals before Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga., won their position round matches – despite a 10-minute power blackout two frames into position round – to clinch the No. 4 and No. 5 berths. Sterner threw two strikes in the 10th frame to outlast Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix, 216-206, in the final match.
The Milwaukee Open was contested on a combination of three challenging “animal” lane conditions introduced for the four-tournament GEICO PBA Summer Swing: a 40-foot Bear lane conditioning pattern similar to the demanding U.S Open lane condition, a 32-foot Wolf pattern (the shortest application of oil of any of the eight PBA animal patterns), and a 52-foot Badger pattern (the longest oil condition the PBA has ever used). Milwaukee Open finalists qualified during the Badger, Wolf and Bear Open tournaments held over the previous 10 eight days at AMF Waukesha, AMF West and AMF Bowlero, respectively.
The stepladder finals for the Badger, Wolf, Bear and Milwaukee Opens will be contested Saturday at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively. The GEICO Summer King of the Swing special event will follow the Milwaukee Open finals Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Summer Swing finals will air on five consecutive Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET beginning June 11.
LUCAS OIL PBA MILWAUKEE OPEN
AMF Bowlero, Milwaukee, Wis., May 30
Final Match Play Standings (after 59 games, top five advance to stepladder finals at noon Sunday at AMF Bowlero):
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 16-6-2, 14,011.
2, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 14-10, 13,722.
3, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 16-8, 13,683.
4, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, 12-11-1, 13,590.
5, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 17-7, 13,508.
6, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 12-12, 13,459, $4,000.
7, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 13-10-1, 13,444, $3,600.
8, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 14-10, 13,431, $3,000.
9, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 10-13-1, 13,370, $2,700.
10, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 12-11-1, 13,337, $2,400.
11, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 10-14, 13,271, $2,200.
12, Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 13-11, 13,258, $2,100.
13, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 13-11, 13,236, $2,000.
14, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 10-14, 13,224, $1,900.
15, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 12-12, 13,118, $1,850.
16, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 9-15, 13,071, $1,800.
17, Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I., 11-13, 13,063, $1,750.
18, Jake Peters, Decatur, Ill., 11-13, 12,974, $1,700.
19, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 15-9, 12,942, $1,650.
20, Patrick Girard, Canada, 10-14, 12,941, $1,700.
21, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 9-15, 12,901, $1,650.
22, x-Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3-5, 12,829, $1,400.
23, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6-18, 12,678, $1,450.
24, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 8-16, 12,650, $1,500.
25, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 9-7, 11,246, $1,240.
25, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 0-0, 7,489, $1,000.
x-Palermaa replaced Jones, who withdrew due to injury.
300 Games: Chris Barnes, Jason Sterner.