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ANDY MORTON: Halftime is Over...Let LIVE TV Begin!
by Andy Morton January 13, 2010 06:36
The holidays are over and I can finally relax. The Christmas tree is stowed away and the presents have all been built according to my own intuition, because I failed to read most of the instructions. And I can finally get back to the task of covering the PBA Tour in the New Year.
The second half of the season is now officially underway this week with the Earl Anthony Memorial Classic. With only 10 events remaining in the season, this certainly seems like a good time to take a gander at the PBA points list is see who is treading water to maintain their exemption on the PBA Tour.
This season added a new test for the players; bowling seven events within one month’s time in one city, and mostly in one bowling center. A bad month of bowling in August would have significantly more impact than a bad month (typically four events at most) would have in previous seasons.
At first glance, there are a number of big name players needing a solid second half to retain their exemption. After points have been tabulated for seven events, former PBA point leader Brad Angelo is in 34th on the points list with only a marginal lead on 40th. Joe Ciccone, who lost his exemption last year only to regain it at Tour Trials, sits in 37th. Some guys quietly sitting just outside the cut include Dino Castillo (ranked 45th), Mike Edwards (ranked 49th), and Todd Book (ranked 50th).
Probably the two biggest names outside the cut are Robert Smith (ranked 55th) and Parker Bohn III (ranked 59th). These two players are staples of the PBA Tour. Robert’s power and Parker’s taste for the victory circle have cemented them as superstars of our game.
Robert revolutionized the power game when he showed up on Tour full-time in 1998. Robert has also had his share of struggles with injuries during his PBA career and there is no doubt that the World Series of Bowling put extra strain on everyone’s muscles and joints with so many events crammed into a shorter time period. At the WSOB, Robert’s best finish was 17th at the Shark Championship. Other than that performance, he never made match play in any other event. Since his injury deferment in 2006, Smith has won one title, and made the show three times. He’s cashed in nearly every event, and made match play in over half of them...a far cry from his one match play appearance in eight events this season.
Most diehard fans of the PBA are most shocked by where 32-time titlelist Parker Bohn III finds himself after seven events this season. Bohn just finished with his best performance of the year by taking 11th place at the Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open presented by USBC which will surely move him up the standings. And he does have one more match play appearance than Smith. But he’s averaging a 57th place finish in his other six events. But he’s also ranked 70th in tour average after 7 events.
Some have argued that Parker just didn’t match up well with Thunderbowl Lanes and that’s why he’s struggled. But I find it hard to believe that a guy with so much experience on tour and an entire month at one bowling center wouldn’t be able to find a way to compete. One has to wonder if his recent 2nd place finish at the Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland is the boost he needs to jump start the second half of this PBA tour season.
With 10 events remaining, there is certainly plenty of opportunities for these two players to retain their exemptions. And truly, one victory by these guys would put aside any worries about the points race for the current season.
THE BIG FOUR
Mike Scroggins won the Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open in pretty convincing fashion by throwing the first nine strikes in the final against Wayne Garber. In a tournament designed to promote a new set of patterns issued by USBC for league bowlers, the guy who famously proclaimed, “I threw that one like a league bowler” at the USBC Masters in 2005 won. Am I the only one who sees the humor in this?
Mika Koivuniemi defeated Parker Bohn III 248 to 203 in the Brunswick Ballmaster Open on Sunday evening in Helsinki, Finland. It was Mika’s 2nd victory at the tournament. He won this tournament once before in 1998.
Is there any bigger news than the PBA Tour heading back out on the road this week for the second half of the season and the more traditional tournament format, with a live finals show in the same week? The purists are rejoicing. I won’t lie, the fact that I can surf the web freely and not worry about encountering a spoiler has me rejoicing too.
Have any of you seen the huge bowling set for sale at Toys R’ Us? The pins are like two feet tall and the balls are roughly regulation size? Even though I thought it was the coolest kid bowling set ever, I could never justify the purchase since space is limited in my house. Well, this Christmas, my 2-year old got that bowling set as a gift. Thanks bro! (sarcasm intended)
MY TOP TEN: (Most recent Tournament finish in Parenthesis. Last tournament completed was the Red, White and Blue Open.)
Rhino Page (30th ) The second half of the season begins this week and the rankings should get a nice shakeup each week until the end of the season. If Rhino wants to remain here, he’ll need to stay hot like fire.
Chris Barnes (32nd ) The only thing missing this year for Chris is a title. Odds are he’ll get one before seasons end.
Wes Malott (7th ) The Big Nasty got off to a rocky start this season, but found his groove and hasn’t finished worse than 7th in his last four events.
Walter Ray Williams, Jr. (4th ) He’s 50 and he finishes 4th in a score-fest tournament.
Tom Smallwood (105th ) His 105th place finish comes after winning the biggest tournament of his life and going on a fairly significant media tour. No biggie for being a little sidetracked this week.
Sean Rash (29th ) Only a few players have found the consistent success that Rash has had this year and they are ranked 1st, 3rd and 4th .
Jason Couch (9th ) Quietly finding a groove with back to back to back top 10 finishes.
Bill O’Neill (58th ) Has surrounded his victory with two 3rd place finishes and a 35th, 39th, 44th, 58th, and 60th place finish. Not a pretty picture.
Norm Duke (27th ) Majors are just around the corner which seem to be his defining moments.
Mike Fagan (6th ) One of the coolest styles on tour and two top 10 finishes in his last three events.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“My biggest mistake was choosing that pair of lanes.”
Wayne Garber after losing to Mike Scroggins in the final of the Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open. Wayne chose to bowl on the pair he just finished beating Walter Ray Williams, Jr. on. That pair hadn’t had any traffic on the left side allowing Scroggins to have an easier line to the pocket. Wayne said his choice was more or less based on his look and not so much Scroggins. Scroggins admitted the pair Garber chose benefitted him in the final.
"My friend told him she had a boyfriend, but that didn't matter to him," she said. "He just kept going. I didn't like him. I thought he was arrogant and full of himself."
Lynda Barnes commenting in an Oakland Tribune story on what she thought of her husband and 12-time PBA champion Chris Barnes when he was trying to court her during their stint as collegiate bowlers. Was it really his arrogance or was it that mullet he was rocking back in college? Yeah, I saw the video.
"It really feels good, because it comes at a time when I can look back and reflect on what I did as a bowler. It seems so long ago that I made my living as a bowler."
Marshall Holman after finding out that he’ll be inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in the Superior Performance category.
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About time, the pre-recorded shows were getting on my last nerve!