Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, flirted with a perfect finish, but settled for an easy victory in winning his seventh career Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour title in the Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open presented by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) at Northrock Lanes, Wichita, KS.
Scroggins ruined 42-year-old rookie Wayne Garber’s bid for his first PBA Tour title, 278-229, to conclude the highest scoring tournament in PBA history.
The finals aired Sunday on ESPN. Scroggins, who struggled in two preliminary matches leading up to the title contest, started the championship match with nine strikes before leaving a 7 pin on his first shot in the 10th frame. He made the spare and left another 7 pin on his fill ball, but the match may have been decided before it even started because the inexperienced Garber made a decision that played right into Scroggins’ hands.
Garber, making his first television appearance, earned his berth in the title match by upsetting PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, FL, 10-8, in a one-ball, sudden-death roll-off after they had tied at 237-237 and threw matching strikes in the first roll-off frame.
As the highest ranking survivor in the ESPN finals, Garber then had the right to select which pair of lanes would be used for the championship match.
Normally, one pair of lanes is used for all TV matches, but because of the unusual six-player format used in the Red, White and Blue Open finals, two pairs of lanes were in use.
Garber decided to remain on the right pair of lanes where he had just defeated Williams, rather than move to the left pair of lanes where Scroggins had left a steady stream of 7 pins in edging Mike Fagan of Patchogue, NY, 218-197, and then fellow left-hander Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, FL, 227-215, in his preliminary matches.
“My biggest mistake was choosing that pair of lanes,” Garber said later. “I threw four practice balls on the left pair and had no look at all, but if I could do it over, I’d pick that pair.”
Scroggins, the reigning U.S. Open champion, said a silent “yeah” to himself when Garber announced his choice. No left-handers had bowled on the right pair other than a few practice balls, so Scroggins had fresh conditions which meant better odds his ball would finish hard and carry strikes.
“I was glad to get off the pair I was on,” Scroggins said. “The back ends got so tight, we had no carry at all. Then we got a little practice on the right pair and I never missed the pocket, so I felt pretty good. And I got some lucky strikes along the way.”
Despite his runner-up finish, Garber had the tournament of his life. “I’ve bowled for local titles, but this was a lot different,” he confessed. “I’m ecstatic. If there are nine clouds, I’m on cloud 15.”
In the other first-round match, Williams eliminated Michael Machuga of Erie, PA, 257-244, in his PBA-record 171st television appearance.
The Pepsi Red, White and Blue Open presented by the USBC was conducted on three different lane conditioning patterns the USBC plans to introduce on an optional basis to American league bowlers in cooperation with the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) for the 2010-11 winter league season. Similar in concept to golf’s tee system, the USBC Red condition was the most forgiving pattern, the White condition was a medium challenge and the Blue pattern – which was used for the ESPN finals – was the most challenging.
The Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour’s next event is the Earl Anthony Memorial Jan. 12-17 at Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl in Dublin, CA. The Anthony Memorial will include a PBA Exempt Tour event and the final PBA Women’s Series presented by BOWL.COM singles event of the 2009-10 season.
ESPN will televise the finals live at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Jan. 17. Wes Malott of Pflugerville, TX, is the two-time defending Earl Anthony Memorial champion; Wendy Macpherson of Henderson, NV, is the defending Earl Anthony Women’s champion.