Jason Couch has done just about everything in his 15-year Denny's PBA Tour career, but he can now add back-to-back titles to his already impressive resume.
Couch defeated 41-year-old rookie Billy Oatman, who was attempting to become the second African-American in history to win a Denny's PBA Tour title, 236-228, Sunday at Strike Zone at Sunset Station in a match that came down to the final shot.
Couch, who earned his 15th career Denny's PBA Tour title, captured his second title in as many weeks after winning last week's Dick Weber Open, becoming the first since Tommy Jones in 2005 to win back-to-back. A four-week hot streak has seen Couch go from 27th in the PBA World Point Rankings to 1st.
"I don't think I've ever had a run like this. In 1999 I made a show and two weeks later won my first Tournament of Champions, but never have I gone third, sixth, win, win," Couch said. "I had an opportunity to put a lot of heat on (Oatman) in the 7th frame and I left a 6-pin. Either way, I knew I'd have to get up in the 9th and 10th and do something big. Billy is a phenomenal talent and I have no doubt in my mind he'll end up in the winner's circle."
Couch trailed early against Oatman, a Cinderella story who earned an exemption for this season only after exempt bowler Ritchie Allen deferred his exemption due to an injury. Oatman had finished 11th at the Denny's PBA Tour Trials, one spot shy of an exemption.
He showed a lot of poise in the title match, striking four consecutive times in frames 6-9 while Couch had a nine-spare in the 7th to let Oatman take over the lead by two pins. Showing why he's a future PBA Hall of Famer, Couch stepped up and struck twice in the 10th to put the pressure back on Oatman. Needing two strikes to win, Oatman struck with his first shot, and hit the pocket with his second shot, but the 10-pin stood up, giving Couch the win.
Couch advanced to the title match with a 238-230 win over Mike Scroggins. Couch struck in five of the first six frames to take an early lead but Scroggins struck three times in frames 6-9 to force Couch to double in the 10th for the win.
Oatman advanced to the title match with a 207-181 win over Brad Angelo. Oatman took the early lead with three strikes in the first four frames while Angelo had 2-10 splits in the 1st and 4th frames. Oatman left a pocket 7-10 split in the 5th frame giving Angelo an opening, but he could not capitalize and Oatman struck with his first ball in the 10th to clinch the win.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) earned $25,000 for the win, while Oatman (Chicago) took home $13,000 for second. Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) earned $6,500 for third and Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) earned $5,500 for fourth.
In his rookie season as the first African-American exempt bowler on the Denny's PBA Tour, Billy Oatman claimed earlier in the week that this was his week.
Oatman advanced to the finals of the 2007 Motel 6 Classic Friday night at Strike Zone at Sunset Station by outlasting seven-time titlist Chris Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) in the best-of-seven games match up, four-games-to-three, winning the final match, 236-205.
"I couldn't think about getting on to the TV finals Friday. I had to focus at what was at hand," said Oatman (Chicago). "The only thing I could think of was to get the strike and get the next one. The only thing I was focused on was letting the ball come off my hand, watching it hit the pocket, hearing a loud explosion and seeing all the pins fall down."
Oatman, who finished 11th in the Denny's PBA Tour Trials, one spot away from gaining an exemption, was given a second chance when Ritchie Allen deferred his exemption on the 2007-08 Denny's PBA Tour due to an injury.
Barnes wasn't the first major name that Oatman faced Friday as he knocked off all-time Tour titles leader, Walter Ray Williams Jr. (Ocala, Fla.), 4-1, in the Round of 16.
Oatman will face the lone right hander in the final four in Brad Angelo. Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) advanced to his 12th career final, but is still looking for his first career Tour title.
Angelo rolled over Andrew Cain (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 4-1, in the Round of 8 to win his third consecutive match over a bowler who qualified from the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round.
The winner of the Angelo-Oatman match will face a left hander for the crown as Jason Couch takes on Mike Scroggins.
If Couch had a New Year's resolution of changing his ways on the 2006-07 Denny's PBA Tour, the left hander is certainly following through with that resolution.
Couch, who was 27th in the PBA World Point Rankings before the two-week holiday break, has not finished below sixth in the first four events of the second half, including last week's win in the 2007 Dick Weber Open.
"I'm having a stellar run. I've caught fire in the second half," said Couch (Clermont, Fla.). "This is my fourth top 10 in a row. I'm riding a wave of confidence. You can see how quick a match can turn around. You have to have the confidence to overcome any obstacles."
Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) was a participant in Friday night's other seven-game match, defeating Patrick Allen, 4-3. Scroggins won the first game over Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) as the two left handers traded games before Scroggins won the seventh and final game, 237-225.
Not that he needs any luck, but finishing Thursday's Round of 64 at 777 pins over par in Las Vegas was enough of an omen that this may be Jason Couch's week again on the Denny's PBA Tour.
The lucky sevens helped Couch maintain his lead with a 3,577 14-game pinfall in the 2007 Motel 6 Classic at Strike Zone at Sunset Station. Par in bowling is based on an average score of 200 for 14 games.
Last week's 2007 Dick Weber Open champion, who has finished in the top six in all three events in the second half this season, is looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time in his career. Earlier in the day, Couch tied the Denny's PBA Tour seven-game scoring record of 1,853, equaling Bobby Stives record from the 2005 El Paso Classic.
"I'm just riding the momentum and a lot of confidence," said Couch (Clermont, Fla.), who owns 14 Denny's PBA Tour titles. "It wasn't really that big of an adjustment on today's oil pattern from last week's. We've bowled on this pattern a couple of times so I know what equipment to use and how to play the lanes. All I did today was make speed adjustments and small moves with my feet. I've thrown the same ball all day."
Couch earned the top seed for Friday's Round of 32 where he will face No. 32 Jack Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.), who was 50th after seven games but averaged 225.43 over the final seven games - including a 300 in game 10 - to make the match play cut.
Finishing second was Danny Wiseman (Baltimore) with 3,526. He will face No. 31 Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas) who currently leads the non-exempt points race.
Billy Oatman (Chicago), the Tour's first-ever exempt African-American, finished third and will face No. 30 Brian Himmler (Cincinnati). Last week's Dick Weber Open runner-up Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) finished fifth and will face No. 28 Mike Edwards (Tulsa, Okla.).
In the city of lights, Jason Couch is certainly making a claim to have his name up in lights. The left-hander is undoubtedly the hottest bowler on the Denny's Professional PBA Tour.
After running away with last week's 2007 Dick Weber Open, in which he led four out of the six rounds, Couch complied a seven-game pinfall of 1,853 in Thursday's first block in the Round of 64 in the 2007 Motel 6 Classic at Strike Zone at Sunset Station. Couch's total matched Bobby Stives for the PBA scoring record in a seven-game block. Stives accomplished the feat in the 2005 El Paso Classic.
"I'm just riding the momentum and a lot of confidence," said Couch (Clermont, Fla.), who topped the 256 mark in six of his seven games. "It wasn't really that big of an adjustment on today's oil pattern from last week's. We've bowled on this pattern a couple of times so I know what equipment to use and how to play the lanes. All I did today was make speed adjustments and small moves with my feet. I've thrown the same ball all day."
The past two weeks are just a glimpse into Couch's turnaround in the second half of the Tour. He also finished third in the 2007 H&R Block Classic and sixth in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic.
Nine pins behind Couch is Billy Oatman (Chicago, Ill.), who had a chance to catch Couch in the seventh game, but fell just short after leaving a spare in the 10th frame for 1,844.
Danny Wiseman (Baltimore, Md.) is in third with 1,779 after back-to-back scores of 279 in games six and seven.
PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.) is fourth with 1,755.
【PBA】 Dick Weber Open 【Final】
Jason Couch became the first No. 1 seed to win a stepladder final since February 2005 and he did it in style, repeating as the Dick Weber Open champion with a 258-236 win over Patrick Allen at Fountain Bowl.
The left-hander became the first bowler to defend a Denny's PBA Tour title since Tommy Jones in the Dydo Japan Cup 2005 and just the fourth in history to defend a title in two different events. The three-time Tournament of Champions winner captured his 14th career title, pulling him even with PBA Hall of Fame left-hander Johnny Petraglia.
In a tournament dominated by lefties - four of the five finalists were southpaws - Couch was far and away the most dominant. He led the field from the end of qualifying through three rounds of match play, breaking a nine-match losing streak by top seeds in stepladder finals.
"We all know the problems the top seeds have had and I said last night 'I'm going to shoot 250 and win tournament.' I didn't think I was actually going to (shoot 250) but I certainly did," Couch (Clermont, Fla.) said. "To win the Dick Weber Open last year was just an honor because the Weber's are such a great family. To win two consecutive years is very special. Pete and Tracy treat me like family."
Couch has rebounded from a lackluster first half of the season when he did not make a TV appearance and was 27th in points to make the finals in two of the three events in the second half.
"I wasn't very pleased with myself the first half of the season," Couch said. "I had a couple good weeks but I didn't bowl like I expect myself to. I told my wife at the break I was going to come back with a positive attitude and it's paid off."
In the title match, the two fiery lefties traded strikes through the first three frames before Allen had trouble in the middle frames. The 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year had four spares in frames 4-8, while Couch had a big strike in the 8th after a nine-spare in the 7th. Couch then struck in the 9th and 10th to clinch his first title this season.
The No. 2 seed Allen advanced to the title match with a 249-245 win over all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. Williams had a chance to win with a strike in the 10th, but he left the 4-pin, giving Allen his second win over the PBA Hall of Famer on TV in three weeks.
The fifth-seed Williams advanced with wins over No. 4 Parker Bohn III, 227-225, in the first match and No. 3 Andrew Cain, 216-205, in the second match.
Couch earned $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 season, while Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) took home $13,000 for second. Williams (Ocala, Fla.) earned $7,000 for third, Cain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) earned $6,000 for fourth and Bohn (Jackson, N.J.) earned $5,000 for fifth.
【JPBA】 DHC ツアー 2006/07 第３戦 【ＴＶ決勝】
It was no surprise that Jason Couch and Patrick Allen were two of the five Denny's Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour exempt bowlers to advance to the finals of the 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
It was a mild surprise that Andrew Cain and Parker Bohn III advanced to the finals, while it was definite surprise for Walter Ray Williams Jr. as the all-time Denny's PBA Tour titles leader used 24 games of round robin match play to finish with a 16-8 match play record and a 39-game pinfall of 9,395.
Williams entered the first round of match play Thursday night in 12th, before moving up three spots in the first and second rounds to begin Friday night's final round in sixth. Williams sat in sixth until the final game of the eight-game block, a positioning match against Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas). In a match that went to the 10th frame, Williams edged Scroggins, 231-215.
"The guys on top were scoring so well. I really didn't know if I could strike that much, but fortunately this morning I did get some good strikes," said Williams (Ocala, Fla.), the only right-hander of the five finalists. "Tonight I kind of hung in there and fortunately for me, Mike didn't get many breaks against me. He bowled a great game until the last shot, but unfortunately that's part of the game."
Williams will face Bohn (Jackson, N.J.) in Sunday's first match. Bohn finished 14-10 with 9,556.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) pulled away from the field early in match play and battled fellow Florida resident Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) for the top seed in Sunday's show. In the end it was Couch with 9,893 and a 15-8-1 record edging Allen, who shot 9,794 and finished 17-5-2 in match play.
One story worth watching Sunday is Cain (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Cain, who is bowling in his first event as a PBA member after joining this past week, finished third with a match play record of 19-5 and a total pinfall of 9,595.
In a sea of left-handed bowlers, right-handed Tommy Delutz Jr. is quietly emerging as a threat to win the thus-far left-handed dominated 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
Delutz went 6-2 in the first round of match play Thursday night to move up to fifth place with a 5,541 23-game pinfall. Pinfall totals from qualifying carry over into round-robin match play where bowlers earn 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 for each tie.
The two-time Denny's PBA Tour titlist was the highest right-hander after the 15 games of qualifying, sitting 10th in the standings. His six wins and 244.25 average over the eight games Thursday night moved him into the top five, which if it holds up would get him into Sunday's finals.
"I'm just trying to play that little strip I'm comfortable with in the middle of the lane. When you have a center this big there are three different sections that play differently and I took good notes crossing through qualify. A lot of my guesses tonight were pretty good. I didn't waste four frames trying to line up," Delutz (Flushing, N.Y.) said. "Match play really has to do with luck of the draw. If I keep popping 220s and 240s I'm going to win a lot of games. The scores aren't that high except for guys who have tremendous looks."
Four bowlers - all left-handed - who have tremendous looks are Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.), Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.) and Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas), who sit first through fourth in the standings heading into Friday. Couch maintained his lead from qualifying with a 6-2 record, while Allen went 7-1 to move into second, the best record among the 24 bowlers remaining.
Just over a year ago, Jason Couch was raising the trophy at the 2006 Dick Weber Open. If his play Thursday was any indication, Couch could be the latest Denny's PBA Tour bowler to successfully defend a tournament crown as he leads in the 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) opened Thursday's five-game block with his low score of the day, 216, before improving to games of 247, 265 and 280. The left-hander finished with a 245 for a 15-game qualifying score of 3,701 to advance to the 24-bowler match play round, beginning Thursday evening.
"I would say my scores are a combination of a couple of things," said Couch, who also won last season's 2005 Chicago Classic. "I was pretty comfortable in this center last year and I've always bowled pretty well on the strips pattern in the past. On top of that, I have a little momentum from finishing third and sixth the past two weeks."
If Couch were successful in defending the title, he would become the first to do so since Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) did so in the Dydo Japan Cup 2005.
Wednesday's leader, Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.), is Couch's closest competitor, 67 pins behind with 3,624.
Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), who won the 2007 H&R Block Classic two weeks ago, enters match play in third with 3,558.
Dennis Horan Jr. (Temecula, Calif.), who has four career Denny's PBA Tour titles, is in fourth with 3,519.
Rounding out the top five is Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas), who was in the same position after Wednesday. Scroggins ended Thursday's qualifying with 3,512.
In a day dominated by left-handers, Parker Bohn III took control after the first 10 games of qualifying Wednesday in the 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl despite a little more on his mind than bowling.
"My father-in-law passed away about 11 hours ago," said the 2006 Dick Weber Open runner-up. "I have a little extra help right now from above. He's pulling for Doug (Kent, Bohn's brother-in-law) as well. My wife, Leslie, told me to go out and win one for dad."
Bohn (Jackson, N.J.), who bowled one of the day's four perfect games in the first block, opened the second block with a 269 before throwing a 279 in the third game and ending with a 248 to take the lead with a 10-game pinfall of 2,474.
Joel Reyes (Chula Vista, Calif.) opened Wednesday night's five-game block with a 300 and followed it up with three consecutive games of at least 259 before finishing with a 244. His total of 2,470 puts him four pins behind Bohn in second place.
"When I first got here this morning, I was watching the left-handers in the first block and planned to bring the same game in the second block," said the left-hander who has won two regional titles in the PBA West Region. "I didn't blow the lanes up like I wanted to this morning, so tonight I took advantage of the fresh oil like the lefties did this morning. Things started to fall my way and I took advantage."
Defending champion Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.) is in third with 2,448. The left hander finished Wednesday night with a 255.
Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), who won the 2007 H&R Block Classic, continues his recent streak, sitting in fourth with 2,391.
Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) rounds out the top five with 2,352.
A seasoned veteran with eight Denny's PBA Tour titles and a rookie who just became a PBA member last week lead the field in the 2007 Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl.
Patrick Allen, the 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year who won the 2007 H&R Block Classic two weeks ago after a horrible first half of the season, averaged 251.60 Wednesday to take the overall lead with a 1,258 five-game pinfall.
Andrew Cain, meanwhile, led the first squad of the day with 1,243 and finished second overall. The former three-time Team USA member and 2001 United States Amateur champion got his PBA membership last week after failing to qualify for Team USA a little over a week ago.
"It was very exciting to bowl this well in my first week as a member. I made some physical changes yesterday so I had a lot more confidence coming into today. I just tried to stay in the present and make every shot count," said Cain, who worked on getting the ball off his hand cleaner and faster at the bottom of his swing in addition to slowing his tempo down.
The changes paid off immediately as he started his block with a 279. After a 265 in game four, Cain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) took the overall lead with a 232 in game five.
Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) then took the lead away from Cain by shooting over 250 in three of his five games. He had a high game of 267 in game two and his 227 in game five gave him the lead.
Allen and Cain are two of the eight left-handers in the top 10. Defending champion Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.) and last year's runner-up PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.) - both left-handed - are third and seventh, respectively.
The only right-handed bowlers in the top 10 are Mike Wolfe (New Albany, Ind.) who closed the round with games of 276 and 274 to finish fifth, and Jack Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.) who is eighth.
Kelly Kulick, the first woman to earn a full-season exemption on the Denny's PBA Tour, is 13th with 1,133.
This week's event honors the legendary PBA Hall of Famer Dick Weber and features an open field with a throwback round robin format.
Sean Rash became just the second bowler in Denny's PBA Tour history to win a title in his first three TV appearances, defeating Brian Himmler, 262-190, to win the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic Sunday at Lava Lanes.
The 24-year-old won his first career title last season, becoming the first bowler in history to go from the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round to the title. He won his second title earlier this season in the Beltway Classic.
Rash nearly made more history, as he started with the title match with seven consecutive strikes and looked like he might become the 18th bowler in history to bowl a televised 300 game. He opened in the 8th frame to end the string, but cruised to improve to 6-0 on TV in his short career.
"This one means a lot. Earl Anthony and Dick Weber were two of the greatest bowlers of all time, and to win the tournament named after Earl means a lot," said Rash (Wichita, Kan.). "Hopefully us young guns can win as many times as they did. I'd like to win the Dick Weber event next week as well."
Last season's PBA Rookie of the Year runner-up joined Hugh Miller as the only other bowler to win his first three TV appearances. Miller won titles in his first four TV appearances.
Rash advanced to the title match with a 232-227 win over Patrick Healey Jr. Healey held the early lead after striking in five of the first six frames, while Rash had four consecutive spares in frames 4-7, including a crucial 4-9 split conversion in the 5th. Healey had back-to-back nine-spares to let Rash back in the match, and Rash took advantage with a double in the 8th and 9th. Healey still could have shut Rash out with a double in the 10th, but he had another nine-spare and Rash struck with his first ball in the 10th to win.
In the first semifinal, Himmler defeated the No. 1 bowler in the PBA World Point Rankings Wes Malott, 209-183. Malott had back-to-back opens in the 4th and 5th and struck just twice the rest of the match. Himmler's double in the 8th and 9th all but wrapped up the match.
Rash earned $25,000, while Himmler (Cincinnati) took home $13,000 for second. Malott (Argyle, Texas) earned $6,500 for third and Healey (Denton, Texas) earned $5,500 for fourth.
After Thursday's Round of 64, the thought of defending his Earl Anthony Medford Classic title looked bleak, but after Friday's match-play, Brian Himmler sits in prime position to make it two straight at Lava Lanes.
The four-time PBA title holder was the last man to qualify for the Round of 32, but quickly made some noise by knocking off top-seeded Tim Criss (Bel Air, Md.), four-games-to-two.
Himmler then topped last week's H&R Block Classic champion Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), 4-2, which ended Allen's 18-game winning streak, before eliminating Del Ballard Jr. (North Richland Hills, Texas), 4-1.
"I'm excited, but that was a year ago," said Himmler (Cincinnati) about the possibility of defending his title. "I had a great first round today after struggling last night. I had a big break and made match play by one pin. You have to have breaks out here if you want to survive and I got a couple of big breaks."
Himmler has had previous success in defending a title, winning back-to-back titles in Vernon Hills, Ill., in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
To get to the title match, Himmler must first go through Wes Malott (Argyle, Texas), who earned a career-high fifth TV appearance this season. The 12th seed did so by cruising by No. 4 Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.), 4-1, averaging 253.2 over five games in the match.
The other half of the bracket will feature 2006 Beltway Classic winner Sean Rash (Wichita, Kan.) taking on No. 26 Patrick Healey Jr. (Flower Mound, Texas).
Rash advanced to Sunday's show by defeating two consecutive bowlers from the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round in Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas), 4-2, and Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis), 4-1.
Healey, the only bowler of the four finalists not to win in five games, defeated Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.), 4-2. It wasn't the longest match of the day for the three-time Denny's PBA Tour titlist, however, as he went seven games with Steve Jaros (Yorkville, Ill.) and Ryan Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) in the Rounds of 16 and 32, respectively.
Though he's nicknamed "Turtle" for his slow ball speed, Tim Criss sped away from the field Thursday in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.
Criss' slow ball roll matched up well with the lanes in Medford, Ore., for the second consecutive season as he averaged 254.86 over the final seven games to lead the Round of 64 with 3,422 14-game pinfall, earning the top seed for Friday's match play.
The 21-year Denny's PBA Tour veteran and five-time titlist finished fourth in last season's event at Lava Lanes, and he'll look to qualify for his first championship round appearance since that event in January 2006. It would also mark just his second television appearance since 2001.
"My carry percentage was just incredible tonight. I pulled out an Overtime by Ebonite and it smoothed out the wet-dry. I think I struck 95% of the time I hit the pocket," Criss (Bel Air, Md.) said. "The lanes normally play pretty tight here which favors my ball speed so I don't feel like I have to fight the early hook like I do in other centers."
Criss came into the week 39th in the PBA World Point Rankings. The top 40 earn exemptions of the 2007-08 season, but 10 events remain which award points.
"It's way too early to worry about that," Criss said. "I've been starting off slow the last couple of years and both times I've bowled much better the second half. I feel like I've turned it around the last couple weeks."
A 290 in game nine and a 279 in game 14 helped Criss cruise to the lead. He'll face defending champion Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) in the Round of 32. Himmler edged out Brian LeClair (Athens, N.Y.) by one pin for the final spot in match play with a 257 in game 14. Ironically, Himmler defeated Criss in the event's semifinals last season on his way to the title.
Finishing second with 3,343 was 2005-06 PBA Rookie of the Year Bill O'Neill (Levittown, Pa.). O'Neill will face No. 31 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) in the Round of 32.
Roseburg, Ore., resident Bryon Smith, who advanced to the Round of 64 through Wednesday's Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round, finished ninth with 3,244. Smith, a former Masters champion, will face 12-time titlist Del Ballard Jr. (N. Richland Hills, Texas), who finished 24th with 3,154.
300 Games (1) - Dino Castillo.
In the end, neither thought they were leading, but Jason Couch and Bill O'Neill sit together atop the leader board after the first seven games of the Round of 64 in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.
As they entered the seventh game, O'Neill (Levittown, Pa.) was in second by one pin behind Bryon Smith (Roseburg, Ore.) while Couch (Clermont, Fla.) sat fourth, 27 pins behind Smith. While O'Neill had a 202 in the final game, it was Couch who made the bigger jump, finishing with a 234 and a seven-game pinfall of 1,693.
"I didn't think I threw it very well yesterday (in practice), but apparently I'm doing better today because I got lined up awful quick," said Couch, who finished third in last week's H&R Block Classic. "I'm working on a couple of thumb holes I didn't think felt right, but I'm going to keep doing the same thing I did the first seven games."
O'Neill admitted to being surprised that he was a leader after finishing with a 202 in his final game.
"I was really surprised. I bowled 30 over the last three games. I didn't think that was good," said the right hander, who fired a high game of 280 in game four. "I only had one open the last three games, but the lanes changed a lot and my ball wasn't striking. It was hitting the pocket, just not striking."
The defending Earl Anthony Medford Classic champion, Brian Himmler (Cincinnati), sits in third with 1,684.
Smith, who won the 2003 Masters and finished third in Wednesday's Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round, is fourth with 1,678.
After one of the worst stretches of his career, all Patrick Allen needed to get back on track was a ball change and a week on the Chameleon oil pattern.
Allen captured his eighth career Denny's PBA Tour title - his last three of which have come on the Chameleon, one of five Tour oil patterns - defeating all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., 255-247, to win the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium.
Allen has won three of the last four events held on the pattern, including the last two last season. The 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year came into the week 36th in the PBA World Point Rankings and hadn't made a championship round all season.
"There were some issues with me the first half of the season and I made a bold change. Some agreed, some didn't, but I had to do it to get back here. I didn't think it would happen this soon," said Allen, who switched ball companies over the two-week holiday break. "I've bowled a lot of TV shows, at least for my standards not Walter's, but I've never come up in the 10th frame needing a strike to win. Needing it against Walter Ray is what you dream of. Getting up and doing it is something I'll never forget it as long as I live."
Allen tied a Tour record by going 14-0 in match play this week, equaling the standard Norm Duke set earlier this season.
In the title match, Williams took the early lead with strikes in the first four frames, but a spare in the 5th frame gave Allen an opening. After back-to-back spares in the 4th and 5th, Allen struck six consecutive times to take over. Williams could have struck out to force Allen to double, but instead Williams left a 10-pin with his second shot in the 10th and Allen's first strike in the 10th clinched the win.
Allen advanced to the title match with a 233-204 win over Pete Weber. The 36-year-old dominated from the start, striking with his first six shots. Weber, meanwhile, started with two opens and dug too much of a hole to catch Allen.
In the first semifinal, Williams defeated Jason Couch, 215-200. Couch led throughout the match until a 4-6-10 split and an open in the 9th. Williams took advantage by breaking a string of five consecutive nine-spares by striking out in the 10th frame to shut Couch out.
Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) earned $25,000, while Williams (Ocala, Fla.) took home $13,000 for second. Couch (Clermont, Fla.) earned $6,500 for third and Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) earned $5,500 for fourth.
Four bowlers with a combined 95 Denny's PBA Tour titles will take the lanes Sunday to duke it out for the title in the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium.
All-time Denny's PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr., who won his record-breaking 42nd career title in the 2006-07 season-opening Dydo Japan Cup, defeated amateur Patrick Flynn III, four-games-to-one, Saturday to advance to his third championship round of the season. Flynn (Caldwell, Idaho) was looking to become the first amateur to advance to a championship round in a standard Tour event.
Williams (Ocala, Fla.) will face the top seed from qualifying, 13-time titlist Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.) who defeated Brian Kretzer (Dayton, Ohio), 4-1. Couch finished match play with a 12-1 record and will be making his first TV appearance of the season after winning two titles last season.
Also advancing to his first championship round this season was Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) who finished match play with a perfect 12-0 record. The 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year, who won two titles in 2005-06, will look to become just the second bowler in Tour history to go 14-0 in winning a title. Norm Duke became the first in this season's Lake County Indiana Classic.
Allen, who made a career-high six TV appearances last season, advanced to his first this season with a 4-0 sweep of Chris Loschetter (Avon, Ohio). He credited a ball change to Ebonite's Angular One as his key to victory Saturday.
"I was just trying to get my ball to read the lanes sooner," Allen said. "The lanes were a lot tighter today than they had been all week. They played like there was a lot more oil so I needed to get a ball that would hook earlier."
Allen will face PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber (St. Ann, Mo.), who will be looking for his second title of the season and the 34th of his career which would tie him for third on the all-time titles list with Mark Roth. Weber defeated Ryan Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.), 4-2.
A reoccurring theme seems to be resonating from the Denny's Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. The two-week holiday break has apparently helped numerous bowlers return to form in the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium.
One of those bowlers, Patrick Allen, swept Steve Jaros (Yorkville, Ill.), four-games-to-none, in Friday's Round of 16 to advance to Saturday's Round of 8. It was the second consecutive sweep for the No. 10 seed after he defeated Mike Edwards (Tulsa, Okla.) in the Round of 32. Allen, whose best finish this season in a standard event is 12th in the 2006 Lake County Indiana Classic, credited an equipment switch over the break for his return to form this week.
"I was having my worst year in six years, so I decided to throw different balls," said the Wesley Chapel, Fla., native, who was the 2004-05 PBA Player of the Year. "I left the company I was with the first half of the year and have gone back to a company that I used to be with. I had to go back to what was right for me."
Allen will face No. 31 Chris Loschetter (Avon, Ohio), who advanced by defeating No. 15 Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.), 4-2.
No. 1 Jason Couch also advanced with two consecutive sweeps Friday. Couch (Clermont, Fla.) first ran the table on No. 32 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) before wiping out No. 16 Mike Wolfe (New Albany, Ind.).
Couch will face No. 8 Brian Kretzer (Dayton, Ohio), who defeated No. 24 Steve Rogers (Bourbonnais, Ill.).
The Round of 8 match-ups will feature No. 22 Ryan Shafer, who has already made three TV appearances this season, taking on a PBA Hall of Famer in No. 30 Pete Weber, and No. 5 Walter Ray Williams Jr., also a PBA Hall of Famer, facing an amateur from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round in No. 4 Patrick Flynn III.
Just like first round leader Brad Angelo, Jason Couch didn't touch a bowling ball over the two week Denny's PBA Tour break. His reason, however, was very different.
Couch, who like Angelo had a sub-par first half of the season by his standards, led the Round of 64 in the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium Thursday with a 3,471 14-game pinfall.
The 13-time titlist, who won two Denny's PBA Tour titles last season, has a torn meniscus in his knee which forced him to take the entire two weeks off during the holiday break.
"I didn't bowl once. In all my years on Tour prior to this year I practice during the break," said Couch (Clermont, Fla.). "I think if this injury would have come up 10 years ago, I couldn't have handled it mentally, but I think because of the break I was able to clear my head and that's why I was so fresh today."
Couch finished the first seven-game block Thursday with games of 278 and 277 to give him some breathing room heading into the second block. He started the second block with a 300 game and after a 187 in game two of the block - his only game under 200 the entire day - he averaged 253.60 over the final five games to cruise to the lead.
As the top seed, Couch will face No. 32 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) in Friday's Round of 32. Carter fired a 211 in game 14 to qualify ahead of Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) by nine pins.
Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) finished second with 3,441 and will face No. 31 Chris Loschetter (Avon, Ohio), while Angelo (Lockport, N.Y.) finished third with 3,321 and will face No. 30 PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber.
Qualifier Steve Rogers, who was 43rd heading into the final game and 31 pins out of the cut, fired a 300 game to finish 24th and make the cut. Earlier this season, Rogers became just the third bowler in Tour history to go from the Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round to the championship round when he finished fourth in the Lake County Indiana Classic.
300 games (6) - Rick Steelsmith, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Couch, Brian Himmler, Eugene McCune, Steve Rogers.
Over the two week Denny's PBA Tour break, Brad Angelo did not touch a bowling ball and didn't even think about the game.
The Lockport, N.Y., native credited a clear and refreshed mind from the break as the reason for finishing at the top after the first session of the Round of 64 in the 2007 H&R Block Classic at the National Bowling Stadium.
"I didn't even bring any of my stuff home. I left my shoes and everything on the PBA truck during the break," said Angelo, who will take a seven-game pinfall of 1,717 into tonight's second seven-game session. "During the break I spent time with my kids and celebrated the holidays. Bowling wasn't even on my mind. Sometimes when you are in a slump, the best thing to do is get away from it. You might get yourself in deeper trouble if you try to fix it rather than getting away."
Angelo began the day with his lowest score of 190 before rebounding with a 234. After switching to a Brunswick Red Zone, Angelo posted a 246 and four games of at least 257.
One pin behind Angelo in second is Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.), who ended the first session with his two highest games of 278 and 277.
Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) rounds out the top three with 1,678, highlighted by a 299 in his fifth game.
Amateur Patrick Flynn III (Caldwell, Idaho), who led Wednesday's Denny's PBA Tour Qualifying Round, is in fourth with 1,676.
Norm Duke withdrew from the competition citing a toe injury suffered Wednesday night.