Haugen overcame a 50-pin deficit to defeat Chris Barnes, 215-214, Sunday in a title match that was as much about Haugen's guts as it was about the crucial mistake Barnes made to miss out on his third career Major title.
The top-seeded Haugen had an adventurous week, which started in urgent care Wednesday night due to a sickness. He bounced back to make match play by qualifying eighth and went 15-3 in round robin to earn an automatic berth in the title match.
Barnes came into the finals riding a seven-game losing streak, the second-longest streak on his career, but he had a history of breaking losing streaks with a flair for the dramatic: he broke a career-worst eight-game losing streak in 2005 by winning his first career Major title in the 62nd U.S. Open
Things looked to be heading that way again when the No. 2 seed Barnes breezed past No. 3 Ryan Shafer, 257-205, in the semifinals and started the title match with strikes in the first three frames while Haugen left the 4-6-7 in the second and the 4-7-10 in the fifth giving Barnes what seemed like an insurmountable lead.
The match started to turn in the seventh when Barnes lost his carry and left three consecutive single pins, the third of which set off a stunning turn of events. Barnes whiffed the 10-pin in the ninth frame, giving Haugen the slightest of openings. Haugen, who had struck in the seventh and eighth frames, took advantage by striking in the ninth and then doubling in the 10th to force Barnes to double for the win.
The eight-time champion left a 2-pin with his first shot in the 10th and picked up the spare which still gave him a chance for the tie with a strike. Instead, he left the 4-pin this time, leaving Haugen to celebrate from the bench for the second time this season.
"You can't give up, you just can't. There's a lot of pressure and prestige in this event and you just want to make good shots and not embarrass yourself," Haugen (Cave Creek, Ariz.) said. "I looked at the scoreboard around the seventh frame and knew if he didn't strike the rest of the way and I did, the most he could get was 220s and I could get to the 210s. I knew I could at least make him think about it. Anything can happen, a 7-10 or a 4-9, but I never thought it would be a missed single pin."
This week marked Haugen's first career Tournament of Champions event. He won his first career title in the 2007 Lake County Indiana Classic in November, defeating Wes Malott, 247-239. That day, Malott needed a strike in the 10th frame to win but left the 10-pin to give Haugen his first taste of victory. On Sunday, he became just the second bowler in history - and the first since Joe Joseph in 1962 - to win their first career title and the Tournament of Champions in the same season.
"A lot of people say your career doesn't start until your first title and that the first one validates you as a bowler. What you do after that really defines your career," Haugen said. "That first win definitely gave me confidence but mostly I'm just in a better place in my life. I made a commitment to just worry about myself and not worry about anything else. If I keep my karma good, things will be just fine."
Haugen earned $50,000 and a two-year exemption through the 2009-10 season for his victory. Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) earned $25,000 for second and Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.), who defeated PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber in the first match, 215-213, took home $10,000 for third. Weber (St. Ann, Mo.), who was looking for his record-breaking ninth career Major, earned $7,000 for fourth.
Fagan and his teammate Danny Wiseman watched as Joe Ciccone missed a spare in the 10th frame that would have tied the match, giving Fagan his first title and Wiseman his 12th with a 210-208 win over Ciccone and Ronnie Russell in the 2008 PBA Exempt Doubles Classic at Red Rock Lanes.
Fagan and Wiseman jumped out to a big lead early, starting the match with five strikes in a row while Russell and Ciccone had two spares and an open in the first four frames. Fagan had two major hiccups late in the match, however, leaving the 1-2-4-6-10 washout in the sixth and a 3-6-10 in the eighth, both of which resulted in open frames. Ciccone and Russell responded with strikes in the sixth and seventh and again in the ninth to pull closer and then Wiseman and Fagan went spare-spare-strike the rest of the way, giving Ciccone a chance to win the match for his team with a strike and nine-spare in the 10th.
Ciccone, who was looking for his first career Denny's PBA Tour title as was Russell, struck with his first ball in the 10th, but then left the 2- and 5-pins, meaning a spare would take the teams to a one-ball roll-off.
The crowd at Red Rock Lanes along with Fagan and Wiseman sat stunned when Ciccone missed to the left and missed both pins, giving Fagan and Wiseman the title.
"I'm in shock. My heart just goes out to Joe," Wiseman (Baltimore), who won his first title since 2004, said. "I'm so happy for Michael though. He's such a talented player and I hope this is the first of many more for him."
Fagan, who was redeemed after nearly costing his team the title, echoed Wiseman's sentiments but was relieved to get his first win, an exemption for the 2008-09 season and a berth in the 2008-09 Tournament of Champions.
"I never would have imagined winning my first title this way, but I'll take it any way I can get it," Fagan (Patchogue, N.Y.) said. "Danny and I had a great connection all week. It's just exciting to get that first win and qualify for the Tournament of Champions."
Fagan and Wiseman were the top seed for the stepladder final and took on the No. 4 seeded Ciccone and Russell, who won two matches to get to the title game.
In the semifinal, Ciccone and Russell defeated Bill O'Neill and Mike Scroggins, 233-223. Ciccone and Russell held a comfortable lead until Russell left the 4-9 in the ninth to let Scroggins and O'Neill back in. With a chance to double for the win, Scroggins gave it right back when he left the 3-6-7 and opened. Ciccone got up in the 10th and struck with his first two shots to give his team the 233-223 win.
In the first match, Ciccone and Russell defeated Chris Barnes and Wes Malott, 235-193. Russell, making his first career TV appearance, had clutch strikes in the eighth and 10th frames sandwiched around a Ciccone strike in the ninth which sealed the win over Barnes and Malott, who were unable to strike after the seventh frame.
Fagan and Wiseman split $40,000 for the win and each earned an exemption for the 2008-09 season. Ciccone (Buffalo) and Russell (Indianapolis) split $18,000 for second, O'Neill (Levittown, Pa.) and Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) split $9,000 for third and Barnes (Double Oak, Texas) and Malott (Argyle, Texas) earned $7,000 for fourth.
But seeing as how it was his first career PBA Tournament of Champions, Haugen ignored the doctor's orders. Now, he's one win away from his first career Major title.
Haugen went 15-3 in round robin match play Friday to earn the top seed for the stepladder finals of the 2008 H&R Block Tournament of Champions, the second of four Majors on the Denny's PBA Tour.
Back in November, Haugen won his first title in 200 career events, breaking one of the longest winless droughts on Tour. Just two months after the event, Haugen hardly looked like a guy mixing it up with the legends of the game for the first time in his career.
He got through Thursday's qualifying in eighth then blitzed through the field in match play to lead by over 150 pins.
Haugen will now look to win his first career Major title and earn a two-season Denny's PBA Tour exemption.
Sunday will mark the first time Haugen will be the top seed for a stepladder final. He was the No. 2 seed for the finals of the 2003 U.S. Open where he defeated Pete Weber in the semifinals but fell to Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the title match.
"I look at it like this: I led the tournament and it's one game Sunday," Haugen said. "I decide my own fate. It has to go through me one way or another. There's no way you can feel bad about that."
Earning the No. 2 seed was Chris Barnes, who qualified for his third consecutive championship round appearance and his Tour-leading seventh of the season. The 2006 Tournament of Champions winner will bowl in two championship rounds on Sunday as he also teamed up with Wes Malott earlier in the week to earn the No. 2 seed for Sunday's PBA Exempt Doubles Classic final, which takes place following the Tournament of Champions final.
In an exciting position round match, Ryan Shafer held on to the No. 3 seed while Pete Weber shot 247 in the final game to jump from No. 6 to No. 4 and earn the final spot in the championship round. Weber will be looking to make history as the first bowler ever to win each of the PBA's Triple Crown events - U.S. Open, World Championship and Tournaments - twice.
Weber struck with his first seven shots in the position round against Mike Machuga before leaving a 10-pin in the seventh frame. He then had to worry about Parker Bohn III on the next pair who went into the position round in seventh but he started with the first eight strikes and looked like he might go around Wes Malott, Weber and Mike Machuga. After Weber struck in the eighth in his match, Bohn left the 4-6-7-8-10 and opened in his ninth frame.
Weber then struck in the ninth but he opened in the 10th allowing Bohn another chance. Bohn needed to double in the 10th to make the finals, but he left the 10-pin to give Weber the final spot.
"I was just thinking if I stay clean, I can't miss the show but then I opened in the 10th at the worst time," Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) said. "I thought I threw it good but it grabbed the lane. Maybe I was soft with it because I was thinking 'don't 2-10.' But I stuck in there tonight and threw strikes when I needed them."
Weber will look to break a tie with Earl Anthony for most career Majors as he'll try to win his ninth on Sunday.
"That would be nice to add another Major to my resume," Weber said. "And it definitely would help me get into the Player of the Year race if I can get a couple more titles this year. Walter Ray is bowling well but so are Patrick Allen, Parker Bohn, Wes Malott and a bunch of other guys. The Player of the Year definitely hasn't been sealed yet."
Malott overcame a severe blister on his right thumb to shoot 300 and lead the 54-bowler field with a 3,350 14-game pinfall at Red Rock Lanes, taking the top seed into match play in the second of four Majors on the Denny's PBA Tour.
The three-time titlist who won his third title just two weeks ago, tore open a blister on his bowling hand early in the week during the PBA Exempt Doubles Classic and nearly withdrew from the event. Instead, he continued to bowl because he was paired with fellow Columbia staffer Chris Barnes, and the two advanced to Sunday's championship round. He'll look to make it two championship rounds on Sunday if he can stay in the top four during the 18 games of round robin.
"I didn't think I would even be able to finish the doubles event but when I found out I was paired with Chris I did everything I could do to bowl," Malott (Argyle, Texas) said. "I patched it up and we made it to the show and then I took Wednesday off and didn't even touch a ball. I got here this morning and bowled really well tonight. The thumb is pretty much healed now but it's still patched up because I don't want it to crack again and become a problem."
Malott averaged 226.29 over the first seven games but came out of the gates in the second block with a perfect game. He finished the round with games of 278 and 258 to take over the lead.
"I hit the pocket a lot this morning and didn't get rewarded very much so I drilled a Columbia Momentum and was able to get momentum and carry it through the rest of the day," Malott said. "If I can win a Major here that puts me in good position for Player of the Year. I didn't think anyone could catch (Walter Ray Williams Jr.) but he's having a little trouble right now. He'll figure it out and finish the season strong but I'm definitely going to have to bowl well to even have a chance at that."
Malott has had close calls in Majors before, finishing third in the 2004 PBA World Championship and second in last season's 64th U.S. Open. He currently sits fourth in the PBA World Point Rankings and third in the PBA Player of the Year race.
Barnes (Double Oak, Texas), Malott's teammate for Sunday's doubles finals, made a late run in the second block to move into second with 3,307. He averaged 239.86 over the final seven games and will look to win his second Tournament of Champions in the last three years.
Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) is third with 3,278, PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III (Jackson, N.J.) is fourth with 3,270 and 13-time titlist Randy Pedersen (Clermont, Fla.), the color commentator for the PBA on ESPN, is fifth with 3,261.
Sean Rash (Wichita, Kan.), who won the 2007 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters in October and is looking to become just the fifth bowler to win back-to-back Majors, is sixth with 3,253.
In a field of 54 bowlers with a combined 511 titles and with bowlers ranging in ages from their 60s to their 20s, 24 of the 32 bowlers who advanced to match play are exempt on the Denny's PBA Tour. Among the non-exempt bowlers advancing were PBA Hall of Famers and PBA Senior Tour bowlers David Ozio, Steve Cook and Johnny Petraglia. Ozio finished 13th and Cook 24th, while Petraglia finished 32nd and earned the final spot in match play by just one pin over 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year Doug Kent despite a 171 in the final game.
The top 32 advanced to round robin match play Friday which features two nine-game blocks. The field will be cut to the top 16 after the first nine games, with the top four advancing to Sunday's live ESPN-televised championship round.
The event features the 39 most recent champions on the Denny's PBA Tour, two winners from major events on both the PBA Senior Tour and PBA Regional Tour and is filled up to 54 by past Tournament of Champions winners and PBA Hall of Famers, based on most recent Denny's PBA Tour win.
300 games (5) - Randy Pedersen, Wes Malott, Parker Bohn, Brian Voss, Pete Weber.
Couch (Clermont, Fla.) never fully recovered from off-season knee surgery and has deferred his exemption until the 2008-09 season. He came into this week not sure if he would be able to bowl the entire tournament, but so far his knee has held up just fine.
The 15-time titlist jumped out of the gates fast with a 278 and rebounded from a block-low of 194 in game four to finish with games of 255, 236 and 239 to finish with a 1,685 seven-game pinfall. Couch has always risen to another level in the Tournament of Champions, winning the event an unprecedented three consecutive times from 1999-2002.
Just behind Couch is PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker (King, N.C.), the three-time reigning PBA Senior Player of the Year who is the only PBA Senior Tour player exempt on the Denny's PBA Tour. Baker used a 279 in game six and a 248 in game seven to finish second with 1,680.
Like his fellow Clermont Fla., resident Couch, 13-time titlist Randy Pedersen has excelled in his first event of the season. Pedersen, eligible for the event due to his 2002 Pepsi Open title, fired the only 300 game of the morning in game three and held the overall lead through much of the morning. He finished third with 1,678.
Eugene McCune (Munster, Ind.) and Ryan Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) round out the top five in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Defending champion Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) is 11th with 1,618.
Wiseman, who owns 11 career Denny's PBA Tour titles, and Fagan, who is looking for his first, teamed up to go 9-6-1 in match play to earn the top seed for Sunday's stepladder finals at Red Rock Lanes.
The 40-year-old Wiseman, who went 7-9 in his matches, and the 27-year-old Fagan, who went 12-4, will look to win the first doubles event on the Denny's PBA Tour since 2001.
"I'm not sure how much longer I'll be doing this," Wiseman (Baltimore, Md.) said of bowling on Tour. "It would be nice to help Michael win that first title. I've seen him grow as a player over the years and I know how talented he is. It would be really nice to help him get the first one and get him started to many more."
Wiseman pointed to their similar styles as the key to their success.
"We played the lanes similar down the lane at the break point. His rev rate is much higher than mine and his motion is much stronger so he was deeper at the lay down area but the angles to the pocket were similar," Wiseman said. "It varied throughout the day as the lanes transitioned but we were able to follow each other all day and it was just a matter of making good shots and making spares."
Fagan, who is making his fifth career TV appearance compared to 44 by Wiseman, has no qualms about winning his first career title in a doubles event.
"I'd love to bowl the Tournament of Champions and I'll take it however I can get it," Fagan (Patchogue, N.Y.) said. "Once you get the monkey off your back and get the first one hopefully the others come easier."
Earning the No. 2 seed was the 14th-seeded team heading into match play of Mike Scroggins and Bill O'Neill, who went a tournament best 12-4 to make the finals. Scroggins knows all about making big comebacks as he won four matches as the No. 5 seed to win last week's Motel 6 Dick Weber Open for his fourth career Denny's PBA Tour title.
The first match is between the No. 3 seed Chris Barnes and Wes Malott, who went 9-7, and the No. 4 seed Joe Ciccone and Ronnie Russell, who went 11-5. The teams are a stark contrast to each other as Barnes and Malott own a combined 11 Denny’s PBA Tour titles while Ciccone and Russell will each be looking for their first title. Ciccone has made just five career championship round appearance while Russell will be making his first.
Teams earned 30 bonus pins for each team win and also were rewarded 10 points for individual wins. Each match was split into two singles matches on top of a double match.
Castillo led Monday's Round of 64 in the PBA Exempt Doubles Classic with a 3,326 14-game pinfall and will team up with Denny's PBA Tour champion Mike Machuga, who finished second with 3,322, for match play Tuesday at Red Rock Lanes.
This week's tournament marks the first doubles event on the Denny's PBA Tour since 2001. The top 32 advanced to match play from Monday's Round of 64 and will be teamed up based on qualifying position.
Castillo used a 300 game in the 10th game of the day to propel him to the lead. He averaged 240.43 over the final seven games.
"Today was a very, very good day. I had a good reaction with my ball. I used an Ebonite Gamebreaker early and then I actually used a different Gamebreaker later in the day," Castillo (Carrollton, Texas) said. "I had a nice motion and kept it simple. I didn't do anything too crazy and made the right moves. They were small moves but they were the right ones. I'm just trying to keep a calm head and keep the ball rolling."
Castillo teams up with Machuga, who captured his lone Denny's PBA Tour title in 2005. Machuga, who led the first seven-game block, also fired a 300 game in the second block with his perfect game coming in game nine.
"I'm pretty excited. It's something different and new and I'm excited to bowl with Choogs," Castillo said of Machuga (Erie, Pa.). "He's an unbelievable bowler. He's proven that time and time again, and I'm looking forward to getting a chance to bowl with him. He'll be the anchor. I have 100 percent confidence in him throwing it in the clutch when we need it."
Finishing third and fourth, respectively, and forming the No. 2 team for match play was Danny Wiseman (Baltimore) and Michael Fagan (Patchogue, N.Y.). Wiseman owns 11 Denny's PBA Tour titles while Fagan will be looking for his first.
Steve Jaros (Yorkville, Ill.) and Stevie Weber (Chalmette, La.) finished fifth and sixth and form the No. 3 team while Mika Koivuniemi and Walter Ray Williams Jr. finished seventh and eighth and team up for a formidable duo at the No. 4 spot. Koivuniemi was the 2003-04 PBA Player of the Year and owns eight career titles while Williams is the Tour's all-time titles leader with 44 and currently leads the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race.
Two of the hottest bowlers on Tour form the No. 5 team as eight-time champion Chris Barnes finished ninth and three-time winner Wes Malott finished 10th. Malott owns one title this season while Barnes has made a Tour-high tying five championship round appearances.
Four for Four
Mike Scroggins came into Sunday's final round of the Motel 6 Dick Weber Open two losses away from tying a PBA record for the longest losing streak in televised matches. Now he's on a four-game winning streak.
Scroggins broke an eight-match television losing streak and became the first No. 5 seed since Tommy Jones in 2005 to win a stepladder final on the Denny's PBA Tour, knocking off top-seed Chris Barnes, 226-171, to win his fourth career title at Fountain Bowl.
Just as Wes Malott did as the lone right-hander in last week's Lumber Liquidators Earl Anthony Medford Classic final round against three lefties, the lone lefty Scroggins let the four right-handers in the finals burn up the lanes while he put up high score after high score. After a close game against Pete Weber in the opening match, Scroggins dominated his next three opponents.
In the title match, Barnes was doomed by a 4-6 split and an open in the sixth frame followed by a 1-2-4-10 washout and open in the seventh. Scroggins wrapped up the match with strikes in the eighth and ninth frames.
After the match, Scroggins was brought tears when talking about what it meant to him to win the tournament named in honor of the late Dick Weber. He recalled the time Weber gave him a hand-clipped newspaper article soon after Scroggins won the 2004 Baby Ruth Real Deal Classic.
"He was such a great guy and for a legend to come up after a tournament and give me press clippings that he actually cut out, I'll never forget that," Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) said. "He said, 'Mike, put these away and always remember how you felt that day.' He was a special guy and I'll never forget him."
Scroggins was anything but the sentimental favorite going into the finals, facing the unenviable task of going up against Pete Weber, who was making the finals for the first time in the three years the event has been held in honor of his father, who passed away in February 2005. Weber took control of the match after overcoming an early deficit by striking in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames. Needing a strike in the 10th to win, Weber left the 4-9 split which opened the door for Scroggins. Weber picked up the split and struck to force Scroggins to double and Scroggins calmly struck twice to advance.
"I knew bowling Pete was going to be a tough match because the lanes started out so difficult and I knew whoever survived that match would probably go a long way," Scroggins said of his lowest-scoring of the four matches. "On my side, the lanes definitely got better and I was fortunate to double in the 10th to beat Pete. After that just I relaxed.
"Whenever your opponents give you an opening it gives you a boost and fortunately I took advantage of it."
Scroggins was given an opening in all four of his matches and he more than took advantage. In his second match against No. 3 Tommy Delutz Jr., a 269-224 win, Scroggins struck eight consecutive times after an eight-spare in the second frame while Delutz never recovered from two spares and an open in the first four frames.
The third match was never in question as No. 2 seed Jack Jurek was unable to strike until the sixth frame while Scroggins struck seven consecutive times after a nine-spare in the first frame, cruising to the 254-199 win.
Scroggins took home $25,000 for the win and an exemption for the 2008-09 season, while Barnes (Double Oak, Texas), who fell to 0-5 in championship rounds this season, earned $13,000 for second. Jurek (Lackawanna, N.Y.) took home $6,500 for third, Delutz (Flushing, N.Y.) earned $5,500 for fourth while Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) earned $5,000 for fifth.