Derek Eoff is off to a blazing start as a PBA Midwest Regional “rookie,” advancing to the title match in his first five tournaments over a span of six weeks. But if anyone knows how Eoff feels after finishing second in all five events, it’s probably Sean Rash, who denied Eoff his first PBA title in his most recent event.
Rash, who now lives in Montgomery, IL, defeated Eoff, 215-208, in the title match of the joint PBA Midwest/Central Region Dragon Palace Open at Orland Bowl in Orland Park, IL, on Sunday, July 29. It was the former Team USA member and University of Nebraska collegiate All-American’s fifth runner-up finish in his first five events since joining the PBA in late June.
Whether the runner-up string is a record is unknown because it’s not a record category the PBA maintains, but “I can’t imagine anyone, at least in their first five events as a member, finishing second in all of them,” Eoff said.
Eoff, who recently moved to Madison, WI, from Arlington, Texas, is employed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
“I’m bowling well; I can’t really complain although obviously I want to win,” Eoff said. “It’s aggravating when you bowl that well for all those (qualifying) games and it comes down to one game at the end, but obviously I haven’t bowled as well as my opponent in that last game.
“I’m not questioning my abilities by any means. You can’t take away what I’ve done to get to the title matches. I have no doubt it’s going to happen.”
Rash, who ended a personal four-year PBA Tour title drought when he won the PBA Tournament of Champions in April, knows was Eoff is going through.
“It comes down to a one-game match and everyone wants to win,” Rash said. “Derek is a phenomenal player, a great talent and he has been for a long time. The only advice I have for him is to keep doing what he’s doing.
“I’ve been in his position; I know what it’s like to finish second,” Rash added. “All you can do it put yourself in position to win. I want to see him succeed, but it’s an individual game. I hope he wins soon. Just not against me.”
During his streak, Eoff lost title matches to PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber (248-217 in Oak Forest, IL); Dale Traber (by 10 pins in a 19-game total pinfall event in Wheaton, IL); Dave Beres and Lennie Boresch Jr. (459-439 in doubles event with partner Wayne Webb in Johnsburg, IL), and David Traber (226-223 in Peru, IL).