Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Malott Wins Etonic Marathon Open

After conquering one of the most challenging tournament formats in Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour history, Wes Malott of Pflugerville, TX earned his sixth career title by winning the PBA Etonic Marathon Open Sunday at Woodland Bowl.

Malott defeated hometown favorite Ronnie Russell of Indianapolis, IN, 248-195, in the championship match to win his third title of the year and take a commanding lead in the race for Player of the Year honors. He won a $35,000 first prize.

“That’s the goal right now,” Malott said of his run for Player of the Year. “This puts me in good position but I can’t slack off—there’s Norm Duke, Patrick Allen and some others behind me so I’ve got to stay sharp.”

The unique tournament format consisted of 54 games—total pinfall with no match play—over four days contested on six different PBA Tour lane condition patterns leading up to the stepladder finals. 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. 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.

“I consider myself to be one of the most versatile players out here and I don’t want to be a one hit wonder,” said the 32-year-old Malott.. “I picked the Scorpion pattern because I’ve bowled well on it and I felt it would hold up the best during the course of the finals.”

Earlier this season Malott won the Tour’s Versatility Swing, which consisted of six championships on the different PBA lane conditioning patterns.

For the 29-year-old Russell it was his first television appearance and best finish in an individual Tour event. He also finished second in last season’s PBA Exempt Doubles Classic with Joe Ciccone.

Prior to losing to Malott, Russell defeated Bill O’Neill, 27, of Southampton, PA, 245-190, and in the semi-final match beat Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, MO, 248-216. Weber, who finished third and has yet to win this season, was making his second consecutive television appearance and third in the last four weeks. O’Neill, finishing fourth and still looking for his first Tour victory, was bowling on his sixth telecast of the season.

“For all three matches I felt exactly the same, but I probably needed to go to another ball, I’m not sure,” Russell said. “I can’t complain, I had a great week bowling in front of my family and all the hometown fans.”

In the opening match, O’Neill defeated reigning PBA Player of the Year and 10-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titlist Chris Barnes of Double Oak, TX, 239-220. Barnes was also making his second consecutive television appearance and fifth overall this season, but also has yet to win this season.

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