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Bowling News

Simply the Best

11-6-2007

They’re both in their 40s and both two of the game’s greatest champions. On Sunday, Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard showed they’re as good as they’ve ever been.

Williams set a Denny’s PBA Tour record with a title in his 15th consecutive season and captured his 43rd career title, defeating Eugene McCune, 214-194, to win the 2007 Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes.

Dorin-Ballard, meanwhile, won the first ever PBA Women’s Series event, which is sponsored by the USBC, defeating top-seed Missy Bellinder, 233-192. The four-event series featuring 16 women is running in conjunction with Denny’s PBA Tour events.

The 48-year-old Williams is the Tour’s all-time titles leader and Sunday won his first title since breaking Earl Anthony’s all-time record in September of 2006. Dorin-Ballard, 43, won 20 titles on the now-defunct Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour. She joined the PBA in 2004 and was the first woman to bowl a 300 game in a PBA event.

Williams barely escaped his semifinal match against Dorin-Ballard’s brother-in-law, Jeff Lizzi, 217-215. Lizzi had control of the match until leaving a 4-9 in the eighth frame, giving Williams an opening. After leaving his fifth 10-pin of the match in the ninth frame, Williams came through with three strikes, forcing Lizzi to strike with his first ball in the 10th. This time, the 10-pin bit Lizzi, and Williams escaped.

In the title match, Williams again fell behind, this time to Eugene McCune, who defeated Williams in the title match of the 2002 Banquet Classic for his only career title. Williams trailed by one-pin for most of the match until McCune left a 5-7 in the ninth frame. Williams struck in the eighth and ninth frames and converted his ninth 10-pin in the 10th to clinch the win.

“It was a real grind. I had a good look to the pocket but unfortunately it was a blah look because I kept leaving 10-pins,” Williams (Ocala, Fla.) said. “I really felt like I bowled much better games than my scores indicated, but that’s part of the game. Fortunately my opponents didn’t throw a lot of strikes. Jeff threw a good shot in the 10th that didn’t carry and Eugene threw a great game but that split gave me an opportunity, and I just needed a mark. Fortunately, I had a lot of practice picking up 10-pins all day.

“If someone had told me ‘you’re going to shoot 217-214 and win,’ I’d have laughed at them.”

Dorin-Ballard had an easier route to the title, striking in four of the first five frames and never looking back. She had help from Bellinder, who was never able to string two strikes together until the match was decided.

“It’s overwhelming,” Dorin-Ballard (N. Richland Hills, Texas) said. “We’ve been off now for four years and I didn’t think we’d see the day where there would be any type of tour for us again. I consider myself very lucky to be the first Women’s Series champion.”

Williams earned $25,000 for his win while Dorin-Ballard pocketed $10,000. McCune who advanced to the title match with a 246-221 win over Mika Koivuniemi, earned $13,000. Koivuniemi and Lizzi took home $6,000 each for third and fourth, respectively, and Bellinder earned $6,000 for her runner-up finish.

The Denny’s PBA Tour and PBA Women’s Series move to Cheektowaga, N.Y., for the 2007 Etonic Championship, Nov. 7-11, at AMF Thruway Lanes. The nationally televised ESPN finals take place Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. EST.

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