With a 12,272 54-game pinfall (227.2 average), Malott finished 223 pins ahead of Hall of Famer Pete Weber from St. Ann, MO, with 12,049 (223.1 average) who earned the No. 2 spot for the finals.
“I’m feeling it and I can tell you everybody out here who bowled the 54 games is feeling it,” said Malott of the grueling format. “I was able to adjust to the pressure of bowling the different conditions—I had a little trouble this morning on the Earl Anthony pattern but I found I had to stay slow on the Shark pattern tonight and I bowled well.”
The unique tournament format consisted of 54 games—total pinfall with no match play—over the last four days contested on six different PBA Tour lane condition patterns. The long format and the use of PBA’s Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion, Earl Anthony and Shark oil patterns was designed to test the competitors’ stamina and versatility.
As the tournament leader, Malott earned the privilege of choosing the Scorpion oil pattern for the ESPN telecast which starts Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The Scorpion pattern incorporates a larger volume of oil on the lanes applied to a distance of 42 feet which often demands a more direct line.
“There are a few reasons why I chose Scorpion, but really nothing more complicated than I do well on it,” said the 32-year-old right-hander.
Earlier this season Malott, a five-time Tour titlist, won the Tour’s Versatility Swing which consisted of six tournaments that featured the Tour’s six named lane conditions. During the Swing he won two events including the CLR Carmen Salvino Scorpion Classic.
Weber, who is tied with Mark Roth for third on the all-time PBA Tour win list with 34 titles, came from 45th after the first round to second.
“Today especially, I was focused on what I had to do when I had to do it. I didn’t second guess myself,” said the 46-year-old Weber. “I’ve always said that the more games you bowl the cream rises to the top. Don’t count anybody out when you have nine-game blocks.”
Looking for his first win this season, Weber has made the last three out of four Tour telecasts. Qualifying third was hometown favorite Ronnie Russell. The 29-year-old Russell has toured off and on for the last six years with a best finish of second in last season’s PBA Exempt Doubles Classic with Joe Ciccone.
Opening the stepladder on Sunday will be No. 4 qualifier Bill O’Neill of Southampton, PA, who coming into this event is the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour points list leader taking on No. 5 qualifier Chris Barnes of Double Oak, TX, the reigning PBA Player of the Year. The winner earns a $35,000 first prize and a one-year PBA Tour exemption.