Parker Bohn III of Jackson, NJ, completed one of the most impressive, if unlikely, victories in his hall of fame career, defeating four opponents including top qualifier Jason Belmonte of Australia, 254-227, to win the PBA World Championship at South Point Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
The concluding event of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV, and the first major championship of the 2012-13 PBA Tour season, aired Sunday on ESPN.
Bohn, who had not won a title in more than four years, captured his 33rd PBA Tour title – and second major – with a stunning performance that began when he claimed the 24th and final position in match play by only three pins, followed by qualifying for the stepladder finals by only nine pins.
In the championship round, he defeated Canada’s Dan MacLelland, 226-218; Rhino Page of Dade City, FL, 200-170, and reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of suburban Chicago (Montgomery), IL, 278-231, to advance to the title match where he defeated Belmonte.
In winning the World Championship, Bohn became only the third ever to win a major championship after qualifying 24th for match play (Mike Aulby won the 1989 U.S. Open and Pete Weber won the 1991 U.S. Open after qualifying 24th), and the 15th overall to accomplish that feat. At age 49 years, 122 days he also became the second-oldest player ever to win the PBA World Championship (Tom Baker was 49 years, 192 days when he won in 2004).
“Dreams do come true if you wait long enough, I guess,” Bohn said. “It was a lot of destiny, a lot of things working in my favor.”
Bohn, who almost cancelled his plans to attend the World Series after Super Storm Sandy devastated his home state, began his miraculous title quest with seven strikes in his first nine frames en route to his victory over MacLelland. In the second match, he got help in overcoming a 10-pin deficit when Page missed a 7 pin spare attempt in the eighth frame and opened again in the ninth.
The veteran left-hander started the semifinal match against Rash with seven strikes and never trailed. In the title match, he struck on eight of his first 10 shots against Belmonte, but didn’t break away until Belmonte left 10 pins in the seventh and ninth frames.
“When I look at everything that’s gone on this week,” Bohn said, hesitating. “I looked at (my wife) Leslie the night before I left and said, you know, it’s a tossup over whether I even go. The only thankful grace at that point was we had our power back a couple of hours before I left."
“When I got here, I missed the first practice session, but lo and behold, I kept going throughout the week. I never made the top 16 in any of the events, but still found myself fortunate enough to sneak in to match play in 24th. I just kept plugging along."
“The only pin I threw away all week was on one fill ball, when I threw a 7 pin away. That’s the only pin I can remember throwing away the entire week. Every pin mattered. I only made the top 24 by three pins, and then I made the TV show by less than 10 pins as well.”
When he got to the ESPN finals, Bohn believes divine intervention came into play.
“I do believe my old friend (the late Tony Reyes) was looking down on me and letting me stand tall. The biggest key was going through the nose in the seventh frame against (Rash). A pin rolls out of nowhere and takes out the 4-7, and I get a strike. Usually whoever wins has one or two breaks and I’m here to tell you, I had my share of breaks today.”
Throughout the World Series, Bohn said he was bowling for more than himself.
“My wife and I have created a Striking Out Sandy fund. We’re trying to raise funds for kids who unfortunately lost everything,” Bohn said. “I know there are families that lost everything, but hopefully there will be other people who can take care of them. We had people who were donating money for every strike during qualifying. All of the money we’re raising is going to buy kids backpacks and things they need for school so they can hopefully put the past behind them."
“My heart always goes out to kids,” he added. “I’ve got five children myself and I want them to be able to live life as normally as they can. I had one guy compute all of the strikes I threw in qualifying and match play – 415 or 420 – and he put up $1 a pin himself. We had another guy who lives in upstate New York near my brother-in-law Doug Kent and his wife Chrissie who had a 25-foot trailer. He saw what we were doing on our website, and filled the trailer with clothes and supplies, and delivered it to our area.”
Information about the Striking Out Sandy program can be found of Bohn's Facebook page and parkerbohn.com. “It’ll be there for a long time to come, because I can’t tell you how much the people back east have gone through,” Bohn said. “It’s not going to get corrected by tomorrow.”
While the hardships friends and family faced were fresh on his mind, Bohn might have been the happiest he has ever been after winning a PBA title.
“I’m as happy as I can be,” he grinned. “Now I can say that I’m the world champion.”
ESPN’s coverage of the 2012-13 PBA Tour season continues next Sunday with the finals of the Round1 Japan Cup from Tokyo, Japan, at 3 p.m. ET. The all-new PBA League then makes its debut with a live two-hour ESPN telecast from Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, MI, at noon ET on Sunday, Jan. 27.