Pete Weber and I were born less than a month apart and he's been (mostly) kicking my tail in PBA events for almost three decades now.
The one thing that amazed me the most through all those years was the fire that never left Pete's eyes no matter what was going on in his life.
That unwavering confidence was the constant that kept him winning and on top -- until it disappeared some time after he won his fourth U.S. Open title in March 2007 and he quit winning.
The difference was obvious to anyone who watched Pete on TV -- the fierce, crotch-chopping PDW was replaced by a nervous and tentative bowler who lost to players that he previously would have mowed over.
Some said he was washed up, but even in his late 40s -- Pete will turn 48 on Aug. 21 -- you could see he still had much if his amazing physical talent.
I'm no psychologist and have no theories as to what was going on. The only thing I saw different was that he seemed to be trying to be a nice guy rather than just being himself.
What I do know is what I saw on ESPN on Sunday: the return of crotch-chopping, WWE-flexing PDW throwing clutch shots to bury opponents.
The irony is that Weber's win in the Lumber Liquidators Marathon Open gave his nemesis -- Walter Ray Williams Jr., the one man who owns him on TV -- a record seventh PBA Player of the Year crown.
In this PBA news release Monday, Williams said he "never could have imagined" winning seven Player of the Year crowns.
Weber's 268-224 win over Mike Scroggins in the title match left Scroggins in a Player of the Year points tie with Walter Ray and Bill O'Neill and Walter Ray owned the tiebreaker (Harry Smith points) that decided the crown.
Williams broke a tie for PBA Player of the Year crowns with late Earl Anthony. Williams, with 47 career titles, and Anthony, with 43, are now the only two with more PBA titles than Weber's 35. Weber was tied with Mark Roth at 34 before Sunday.
"I feel like I just won my first title," the teary-eyed Weber said in a PBA news release. "I don't know what to say. It's been three years since I won. I thought I was never going to win again."
Weber led the title match throughout, starting with five strikes before converting a single-pin spare. He then threw another four strikes to end Scroggins' hopes for a third 2009-10 title and his first Player of the Year award.
"So Walter Ray owes me another one," Weber said, referring to the payback he wants because of Williams' dominance over Weber on TV. "But I said yesterday, if Mike was going to win Player of the Year, he was going to have to earn it and I'm sure the other guys on the show felt the same way.
"Mike, I'm sorry I shot 268 at you -- not," Weber grinned.
On breaking his titles tie with Roth, Weber said, "I never thought I'd get to 34 titles, let alone pass Mark Roth. He was my idol growing up. I feel kind of bad about going past him, but not really."
Weber advanced to the title match with a 233-212 victory over Brad Angelo in the semifinal match. Angelo eliminated defending Marathon Open champion Wes Malott in the opening game, 207-192, and Chris Barnes, 256-227, in the second game before losing to Weber.
The championship round was conducted on the Dick Weber lane condition, one of seven used during the tournament. Scroggins, as top qualifier, selected that pattern for the TV finals.
"It was Mike's choice, but winning on the pattern named in honor of my father makes it even more special," Weber said.
Weber used a Storm Furious in the semifinal and a Storm Hy-Road in the title match.
The win marked the ninth time this year a player has won using Storm or Roto Grip equipment.
The Lumber Liquidators Marathon Open concluded the PBA Tour's 2009-10 regular season.
Champions from the Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark Championships conducted in Detroit last August will compete in a special PBA Experience Showdown presented by BOWL.COM while top finishers from six PBA Women's Series events will compete in the PBA Women's Series Showdown presented by BOWL.COM next week at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas.
The PBA Experience Showdown will air on ESPN on Sunday, April 11, at noon Central time and the Women's Series Showdown will air on Sunday, April 18, also at noon Central.
Following the Arlington special events, 20 top PBA players based upon 2008-09 points will travel to Tokyo April 22-25 to compete in the 25th anniversary DYDO Japan Cup. Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla., is defending champion.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA TOUR
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS MARATHON OPEN
AMF Country Club Lanes, Baltimore
1, Pete Weber, St. Ann., Mo., $25,000.
2, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, $13,000.
3, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., $8,000.
4, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $6,000.
5, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, $5,000.
Match One - Angelo def. Malott ($5,000), 207-192.
Match Two - Angelo def. Barnes, ($6,000), 256-227.
Semifinal Match - Weber def. Angelo ($8,000), 233-212.
Championship - Weber ($25,000) def. Scroggins ($13,000), 268-224.