Dom Barrett won his first career PBA title at the Scoprion Open
(Photo courtesy PBA LLC)

Barrett Barrage Overtakes the Field at WSOB Scorpion Open
Las Vegas, NV - February 20, 2012
England’s Dom Barrett, in his American television debut, defeated Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 247-204, to win the Professional Bowlers Association Scorpion Open at South Point Casino and Hotel. The finals aired Sunday on ESPN.

The Scorpion Open was the third of four PBA “animal pattern” championships contested during the third annual PBA World Series of Bowling and the fourth straight World Series title – including the PBA World Championship – won by international players.

Barrett joined countryman Stuart Williams, winner of the Bayer Viper Open, as the second English player ever to win a PBA Tour title. He came into the finals as the top qualifier and worked his way through two elimination matches before throwing his best game at the hard-luck Rash, who was once again plagued by a fatal error.

In the opening game of the eliminator-format finals, Rash led the four-man field with a 217 game. Barrett was right behind with a 207. Hometown favorite Dave Wodka of Henderson, Nev., nipped Patrick Allen of Baltimore, 177-173, to remain in contention. Allen, as low man, was eliminated.

In game two, Rash again led the survivors, using a late string of five strikes to post a 221. Barrett advanced to the title match with a 214. Three open frames led to a 164 game and doomed Wodka’s hopes for his second PBA Tour title.

In the title match, Rash and Barrett both struck on six of their first seven shots, but Rash’s unconverted 2-4-8-10 split in the third frame gave Barrett an 18-pin advantage. Both players converted single pin spares in the eighth and ninth frames before Barrett doubled in the 10th frame to claim the $15,000 first prize and a berth in the Round of 36 for the end-of-season PBA Tournament of Champions.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Barrett said. “I kind of got to go through some of the emotions with Stu (Williams) after he won his title, and that gave me a little insight about what was going to happen to me if I got this far.

“I just wanted to throw the best 10 shots I could, and I think most of them were pretty good,” he added. “The thing to remember is the lane is still 60 feet and there are 10 pins at the other end, and you can’t control your opponent. You just have to make a good shot yourself.”

For Rash and the United States professionals, the loss was another bitter disappointment. In four straight World Series of Bowling finals appearances, Rash has finished third in the PBA World Championship and Bayer Viper Open, and second in the Chameleon and Scorpion Opens. He also finished second to Mika Koivuniemi in the WTBA World Bowling Tour Finals to kick off the World Series. And the U.S. has yet to win a World Series title. Following Koivuniemi’s win in the WBT Finals for Finland, fellow Finn Osku Palermaa won the PBA World Championship, England’s Williams won the Bayer Viper Open, and Australia’s Jason Belmonte won the Chameleon Open.

“If you were to roll the calendar back 10 years, this wouldn’t be happening,” Barrett said of the surprising international dominance. “But we have so many international tournaments now, and the PBA Tour has opened events like the World Series to international players, that the experience we’ve been able to get on the European and Asian tours has really meant a lot.

“The tournaments we have in Europe have televised finals, but nothing quite like this,” he added. “The arena setting here reminds me of the Weber Cup back home, so when I walked in and saw how close this setting was to the Weber Cup, it made me feel right at home.”

Barrett didn’t want to rate himself against Williams as to who the best British bowler might be, but he said, “Stu was the best after the Viper Open, and I put myself into the running today. But the fact is, we’re the only two Englishmen to win a PBA Tour title, so that’s what is really cool.”

PBA SCORPION OPEN
South Point Exhibition Hall, Las Vegas

Round One (lowest score eliminated): Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 217; Dom Barrett, England, 207; Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 177; Patrick Allen, Baltimore, 173 ($4,000).
Round Two (lowest score eliminated): Rash 221, Barrett 214, Wodka 164 ($4,500).
Championship: Barrett ($15,000) def. Rash ($7,500), 247-204.

COUCH AND STUS ELECTED TO PBA HALL

Sixteen-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour titlist Jason Couch and 11-time PBA Senior Tour winner Gene Stus have been elected to the PBA Hall of Fame.

The 42-year-old Couch is the only player in Tour history to win three consecutive PBA Tournament of Champions titles, an event many players consider one of the most demanding to win because a player must win a PBA title to be eligible to compete.

In addition to his Tournament of Champions titles, which came in 1999, 2000 and 2002, Couch won a fourth major in the 1993 PBA Touring Players Championship.

Couch, who makes his home in Clermont, Fla., began his Tour career in 1992 and earned Rookie of the Year honors that season.

“I’m a firm believer in setting goals along the way in your career, working hard at achieving those milestones and hopefully you’ll be rewarded with a great honor like being elected to the PBA Hall of Fame,” Couch said. “I went out and did my best and when I achieved one milestone, continued to work hard and went on to the next one.”

Couch’s career path was probably a foregone conclusion as the son of parents who owned a Florida bowling center.

“Bowling on Tour has been a dream of mine since I was four years old watching PBA Tour telecasts on ABC on Saturday afternoons,” said Couch. “Growing up in a bowling center certainly helped, but it took the right combination of hard work and desire.”

Throughout his 20-year Tour career, Couch had a string of winning at least one title in six straight seasons (1998-2004) and won multiple titles in five seasons. Still active on Tour, he has more than $1.6 million in career earnings and was ranked 24th among PBA’s 50 greatest players in history as part of the organization’s 50th anniversary in 2009. He has also won 25 PBA regional titles.

As a competitive bowler for most of his adult life, the 71-year-old Stus had always wondered how he might have done on the PBA Tour. But the opportunity to compete in Tour competition didn’t present itself until he was able to retire from General Motors after 32 years at the age of 50 and became a regular on the Senior Tour.

Stus’ 11 Senior Tour titles rank fourth on the all-time list behind fellow Hall of Famers John Handegard with 14 titles, and Gary Dickinson and Dale Eagle each with 12.

In 1992, Stus, who currently resides in Taylor, Mich., earned Senior Player of the Year honors thanks in part to winning two titles. In July of that year he became the first Senior Tour player to bowl a 300 game on national television, defeating Don Gilman, 300-188, in the Pacific Cal Bowl Senior Open in Lakewood, Calif.

“It was an honor to bowl with bowling’s greats who I admired my whole life and I always wondered how I would measure up,” said Stus, who had 50 top-five finishes in 173 Senior Tour events. “When I was able to retire at 50, I started to get back to bowling seriously and found I still had the touch.

“Bowling on the Senior Tour was a lot more than achieving the dream of bowling with the greats of the game,” he added. “Just to be around them and to remember all the fun we had on and off the lanes for those years was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Couch and Stus will be inducted during ceremonies at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Saturday, April 14. Additional details regarding the Hall of Fame ceremonies will be released at a later date.

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