SHAWNEE, Okla. – Professional Bowlers Association 2013 Rookie of the Year E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., tamed the PBA’s Bear lane condition Thursday afternoon and used that momentum to capture the No. 1 position in the PBA Oklahoma Open stepladder finals Thursday night at FireLake Bowling Center.
Tackett, a 21-year-old in search for his first PBA Tour title, averaged 223.255 for 36 games on the PBA’s Wolf, Bear and Badger lane conditions, and as top qualifier, selected the flat, 40-foot Bear lane condition for the Oklahoma Open finals. The finals in all five Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort PBA Summer Swing events will be contested Saturday and Sunday at the Grand Resort Event Center for telecast on CBS Sports Network beginning June 3.
Tackett, who finished the Oklahoma Open with a 36-game total of 8,367 pins, including 330 bonus pins for winning 11 of his 18 matches. It’s the first time he has led a traditional PBA Tour event, although he was the leading qualifier in the United States Bowling Congress Masters – a double-elimination match play tournament – earlier in the year before losing to reigning PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte in the title match, 221-177.
Also advancing to the Oklahoma Open stepladder finals were Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, with 8,358 pins; Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., with an 8,307 total; Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., with 8,297 pins, and Belmonte, who rallied from seventh place in the final game to qualify fifth with 8,257 pins.
“I think the only lane condition I’ve bowled on that was more difficult than the Bear pattern today was in the U.S. Open,” Tackett said. “I don’t know why I bowled better than the other guys. I don’t think I threw the ball that much better than anyone. I think my bowling ball just matched up with the condition better.
“It feels really good to lead the field,” Tackett continued. “The only way to learn how to deal with the pressure of bowling for a title is to put yourself in position to win, so I’ll try to do what I did today – stay positive and make good shots.
“I watched my performance in the Masters finals a couple of times,” he added. “I started okay, but I didn’t make moves fast enough. It comes with experience. The Masters was mine to win. Belmo got a couple of breaks, but he made shots when he had to and I didn’t. I didn’t beat myself up over losing, but we’ll see what happens this time.”
PBA OKLAHOMA OPEN
FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., May 22
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (after 36 games, including match play bonus pins; top five after 36 games advance to stepladder finals Sunday at noon at Grand Event Center)
1, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 11-7, 8,367.
2, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 12-6, 8,358.
3, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8-9-1, 8,307.
4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 10-8, 8,297.
5, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 11-7, 8,257.
6, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 11-6-1, 8,200, $4,000.
7, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 11-7, 8,185, $3,500.
8, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 6-11-1, 8,178, $3,000.
9, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 8-10, 8,160, $2,800.
10, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 9-9, 8,149, $2,500.
11, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 9-9, 8,139, $2,300.
12, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 8-10, 8,107, $2,100.
13, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 9-9, 8,100, $2,000.
14, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 10-8, 8,017, $1,900.
15, Dom Barrett, England, 9-9, 8,013, $1,800.
16, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 9-9, 7,990, $1,700.
17, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 5-12-1, 7,921, $1,600.
18, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 4-14, 7,538, $1,500.
300 Games: Mika Koivuniemi, Chris Loschetter.