Shafer, who has made a PBA-record 12 championship round appearances in major tournaments without a title, defeated Andres Gomez of Colombia, 191-177, to win the second of four PBA World Championship elimination rounds at South Point Hotel Exhibition Hall. The divisional finals consist of three one-game rounds, starting with four players, and eliminating the lowest-scoring player after each game.
Shafer will join Finland’s Osku Palermaa, winner of the Don Carter Division, and the winners of the Johnny Petraglia and Mike Aulby Division finals in the World Championship finals on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. ET. The PBA World Championship offers a $50,000 first prize and the first major title of the 2011-12 PBA Tour season.
Shafer, who is celebrating his 25th season as a PBA Tour competitor, established command in the opening game, recovering from a missed split conversion in the second frame to reel off nine consecutive strikes for a 267 game. Venezuela’s Ildemaro Ruiz, making his PBA television debut, was second with a 258 followed by Gomez with a 222. The group’s top qualifier, 2009 PBA World Champion Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, MI, was eliminated with a 194 game after failing to convert 4-7-9 and 4-9 splits in the sixth and eighth frames, respectively.
Gomez led the group in game two, starting with five strikes on his way to a 219. Shafer was next with a 207 and Ruiz was eliminated after posting a 180.
Shafer jumped out to a 29-pin lead after four frames in the final game, but failed to convert the 3-6-10 in the fifth frame and the 3-6-7-10 split in the ninth. While Gomez had his own problems as the lane conditions deteriorated, he still had a chance to win after Shafer opened in the ninth frame. Needing two strikes and eight pins in the 10th frame to lock Shafer out, he left the 2-8-10 split.
Needing only seven pins to clinch the win, Shafer struck on his next shot. “
I threw that shot in the ninth frame as good as I could possibly throw it,” Shafer said, “but I just didn’t move far enough right. “I thought I had blown another one. I’ve had some bad breaks in majors when I bowled pretty good and guys I bowled against bowled better, but I’ve blown a few, too. You just don’t want to make that your history, your reputation.
“I usually don’t get excited and show up my opponent,” Shafer said of his emotional display after his 10th frame strike, “but that one meant a lot to me. Andres is a great guy, and he made a great shot in the 10th, too. I know he can make a great shot when he needs to make one, but it just didn’t work. I definitely got a second life, but I got to the finals and now we’ll see what happens next.”
The Hardwick finals were conducted on the PBA’s Scorpion lane condition, selected by Smallwood as the highest qualifier in the Hardwick field.
The Johnny Petraglia Division finalists will be the next group to bowl, on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. Sean Rash of suburban Chicago (Montgomery), IL, who led all World Championship qualifiers by 296 pins, has selected the Scorpion pattern as the lane condition for this elimination round.
Other Petraglia Division players will be PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, MO; left-hander Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, NY, and Nathan Bohr of Wichita, KS.
Weber, who has won 35 PBA Tour titles including eight majors, has won more titles and more majors than the rest of the 15 World Championship finalists combined (17 titles, two majors). Bohr, the only non-titlist in the group, will make his PBA television debut.
The Petraglia Division finals air on Sunday, New Year’s Day, at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Mike Aulby Division finals, completing the preliminary elimination rounds, will air on Jan. 8, also at 1 p.m. ET. Special pre-game shows will be webcast beginning on the Wednesday preceding the ESPN finals on pba.com’s Xtra Frame and a post-game Xtra Frame interview with the winners will immediately follow the Sunday telecasts.