The Bowlers Journal Scorpion Championship finals, the fourth of five GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV events, aired Sunday on ESPN.
Daugherty, who bowled his record-low game in a 299-100 loss to eventual champion Mika Koivuniemi in the semifinal round of the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions, used his “thumbless” delivery to mow down an impressive field of high-rev power players in the Scorpion finals, raising his television average by 88 pins in the process.
After sneaking into the stepladder finals in fourth position by four pins over Rhino Page of Dade City, FL, Daugherty ruined Jason Sterner’s television debut, eliminating the McDonough, GA, resident, 199-177. He then romped past Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte, 256-187, and threw a critical double in the fifth and sixth frames of the title match to defeat Palermaa, getting help from the Finnish two-handed star when he had consecutive opens in the sixth and seventh frames.
Ironically, Daugherty put together the best performance of his professional career while glancing at a very large “100” in a graphic above the lanes promoting “Bowlers Journal 100th Anniversary.”
“I want to thank Bowlers Journal for reminding me all day of my 100 game,” Daugherty said with a grin at the conclusion of the match.
While all four finalists use power techniques that allow them to generate significant hooking power, the key was slower ball speed, a result of Daugherty not using his thumb in his delivery.
“The difference between me and the two-handers is my ball speed,” Daugherty said. “They throw it 100 miles per hour, so I can actually do something they can’t and that’s a slow hook. I knew if I could get by Sterner, I’d have a good chance. I knew (Belmonte and Palermaa) weren’t going to bowl anything. They might say they threw some bad shots, but I didn’t think either one of them could shoot 200 because of their ball reactions.
“They couldn’t get inside as far as I was because of their ball speed. Their ball would never hook from there,” Daugherty added. “As soon as Belmo tried to move in just a little, he missed the headpin. It was easy for me to do, too, but on my good shots, I could get the ball to make the turn. They couldn’t do that.”
Daugherty admitted he was nervous in making his second career television appearance.
“There was a lot of nerves going on the first game. The three-bagger kinda calmed me down, but leaving that 3-6-9-10 in the first frame was unnerving. I didn’t want to start with an open,” he said after successfully converting the difficult spare. “That’s all I thought about after making the show: not starting with an open and that’s not the spare you want to shoot at in the first frame.”
Daugherty said he was thrilled to win his first National PBA Tour title because it made him eligible to bowl in the 2013 PBA Tournament of Champions under revised eligibility rules that will only allow PBA Tour champions to enter. He had bowled in the TOC previously under rules that allowed PBA Regional title winners to participate.
“I was so disappointed when they changed the TOC criteria,” Daugherty said. “I made a lot of money in that tournament the past two years, but now I’m back.”
The GEICO World Series of Bowling concludes on ESPN next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with the finals of the PBA World Championship, the first major championship of the 2012-13 PBA Tour season. Finalists will include PBA Hall of Famer and 31-time PBA Tour titlist Parker Bohn III of Jackson, NJ; Canada’s Dan MacLelland; Rhino Page of Dade City, FL; reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, IL, and top qualifier Jason Belmonte of Australia, a five-time PBA Tour champion who is trying for his first major title.