By Dennis Clark
TERRE HAUTE — The second of four Majors on the Denny’s PBA Tour will wrap up today with the televised final round of the 64th U.S. Open being competed in North Brunswick, N.J.
Today’s stepladder finals begin earlier than usual, starting at noon (EST) on ESPN television. At stake for this week’s winner is $100,000 and a three-season exemption through the 2009-10 season.
A capacity field of 492 bowlers — the field was filled a week early — have been grinding it out in the most rigorous of the PBA Tour’s events.
The large number of competitors in the field — most of the PBA events features only the 64 exempt players — was split into three squads for the first three days of qualifying. Each day, the first and third squads bowled on freshly oiled lanes, while the second squad bowled on lanes already broken down which typically results in higher scores.
I know what you’re thinking, to level the playing field each squad bowled at the three different times throughout qualifying on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“This is old school bowling. The U.S. Open starts [Wednesday] for me,” first-day qualifying-round leader Tommy Delutz Jr. said on Tuesday. “If you are an exempt bowler or a top amateur, this is where you get your pins. You stock up your pins here and then try to survive the fresh oil tomorrow.”
After three days of qualifying (six games each day), the top fourth of the field (123 bowlers) rolled nine more qualifying games during the day on Friday.
In an exciting final game to decide the 24 bowlers who would advance to match play, Ronnie Russell of Indianapolis, fired a 267 to jump from outside the cut to 18th while Mike DeVaney shot 224 in his final game to earn the final spot in match play ahead of Doug Kent (Newark, N.Y.) by just eight pins.
The top 24 advanced to round robin match play beginning Friday evening and running into late Saturday night. All pinfall from qualifying carried over into match play, where bowlers earned 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 for each tie. The top four survivors from match play will vie in today’s finals.
That’s 51 games of top-drawer competition in five days. Whew!
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n Who would’ve thunk it? — The chances of a bowler winning a PBA Tour event after advancing from their midweek qualifying round are pretty slim. The odds of it actually happening two straight seasons in the same venue borders on astronomical.
But last week in Parkersburg, W.Va., that eventuality did occur.
Mike Mineman repeated Sean Rash’s feat in 2006 of winning the “PBA West Virginia Championship”, advancing from the qualifying round to win winning the “PBA Bayer Classic”. Same tournament, different name, but both at Emerson Lanes.
With that feat, Mineman and Rash can boast of being the only two non-exempt bowlers ever to win a PBA title.
What was even more incredible is that Mineman, 48, became the fourth-oldest competitor to win a Tour event. He had advanced to the round of 64 through the Tour qualifying round on six occasions over the past three seasons but never advanced previously to the round of 16.
Only John Handegard (57), Buzz Fazio (56) and Lou Campi (54) were older winners on the PBA Tour.
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Back to the local bowling scene:
n Hall of Fame dinner set — The 38th Terre Haute Bowlers Hall of Fame and Recognition dinner is set for Monday, May 7 at the Terre Haute Elks Club. Cocktails will be at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7.
Anyone interested in submitting a nomination for induction into this year’s Hall of Fame should either contact a member of the HOF Board of Governors or check at your favorite bowling establishment.
n Women’s “City” Tournament — The following are results of the Greater Terre Haute Women’s Association Tournament contested at Rockville Lanes recently.
Team winners were Family Affair (3,222/$450 in winnings), followed by Golden Girls (3,127/$350).
In doubles, first was Angela Tapy-Amanda Tapy (1,328/$180), trailed by Tracy Pine-Nancy Sons (1,311/$140) and Jean Zurcher-Jean Liggett (1,295/$100).
In singles, Misty Chandler (692/$90) was the champion, followed by Pine (676/$70), Cynthia Myers (675/$50) and Jodi Wheeler (665/$45).
In all events-handicap, Sons (1,919/$25) edged Chandler (1,916/$20). Chandler claimed first place in all-events actual with 1,763.
n Spring meeting set — The spring meeting of the Greater Terre Haute Women’s Association will be at the VFW (located at 12th and Mulberry) on March 11. Luncheon will be served at noon, followed by an open meeting at 1. Lunch costs only $2.
The meeting will feature election of president, sergeant-at-arms and four directors. Also on the agenda will be to distribute prize money for the local tournament, along with a style show and door prizes.
n Jack and Jill Tournament — The popular Jack and Jill mixed doubles tournament is scheduled for April 21-22 and 28-29 at Paradise Bowl in Clinton.
The Saturday shifts are 12:30 or 2:30 p.m., while the Sunday shifts are 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Entry fee is $15 per person.
For more information, contact Joan Goetz at (812) 466-2204.
n Local bowling on the Web — By the way, news for the local Women’s Association can be viewed on the Web as well. Bowlers can view Women’s board information, contact information, listing of events, Hall of Fame listing and tournament results — including the aforementioned City Tournament results.
Under construction are pages for membership information and a photo album. Just log on to www.gthusbcwba.com.
n State finalist — Scott Higginbotham of Terre Haute North was the lone area high school bowler competing in the Indiana High School State Finals at Cooper’s Sports Bowl in Anderson last weekend.
Higginbotham placed 16th of 18 bowlers competing in the boys singles competition with a three-game series of 595.
n 700 Club results — The 700 Club Trio Tournament was Feb. 25 at Brazilian Lanes, with the winning team featuring Bryan Barton, Tom Brown and Ken Brownfield. In second place was Marc Pruett, Troy Williams and Trey Minett. Minett also had the high game in the event with 298.
Next up is the 13th annual Match Games tournament at 11 a.m. March 18 at the Terre Haute Elks Club.
Dennis Clark can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.