Friday, Jan. 23, 2009 | 11:30 p.m.
Wes Malott kept his hot streak going Friday, jumping into the lead of the Professional Bowlers Association’s H&R Block Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in the afternoon.
But by the end of the night, the five-time PBA Tour titlist — fresh off his Bayer Earl Anthony Medford Classic title last weekend in Medford, Ore. — needed every ounce of that luck to survive and advance into Sunday’s ESPN televised (9:30 a.m. PT) stepladder finals.
“I have a lot of confidence right now and I’m getting some key hits to keep the momentum going,” the Pflugerville, Texas native told pba.com.
Malott held off Ryan Shafer by 22 pins to take the final qualifying spot for the finals after holding the top spot just a few hours earlier.
“I started match play last night 0-4, and I asked myself, what are you doing? I stuck with it, figured things out and won my next four matches,” Malott said. “That’s definitely been the biggest thing about my maturity out here.”
Patrick Allen, a 38-year-old lefty from Wesley Chapel, Fla., might be even hotter than Malott.
Allen, who will make his record-tying fifth consecutive television appearance as a tournament leader on Sunday, recorded a 238.48 average for the six-round, 48-game preliminaries.
“I’ve been on an unbelievable wave,” Allen said. “After the first six weeks of the season, I was on the verge of bowling for my job. I was bowling terrible. But I had a practice session with Doug Kent. He pointed out a couple of things. I agreed with him, and things began to click. When you’re bowling with confidence, when you believe in yourself, you can get the job done.”
That’s exactly what reigning Rookie of the Year Rhino Page, of Topeka, Kan. has on his mind as he and veteran bowler Mike Scroggins, of Amarillo, Texas, challenge Allen and Malott for the $50,000 first-place prize.
“I can’t tell you what it would be like to win this week,” said Page, who qualified second with a 235.96 per game average. “This is a special year. Everyone who is anyone in the sport is here this week.”
The tourney will take a bit of a break on Saturday with a pro am event. But the PBA will recognize superstars Norm Duke, Del Ballard Jr., and John Handegard, who will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame.