E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., made a late final match play round run to capture the top qualifying position for the stepladder finals of the Rolltech PBA World Championship Sunday at the National Bowling Stadium.
The 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year is the lone right-hander to make the show. He compiled a 16-8 match play record and 66-game 15,589 overall pinfall, including bonus pins, to edge out No. 2 qualifier, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., who finished with 15,517 pins and 15-9 match play record.
Tackett and lefthanders Ciminelli, Gary Faulkner Jr. of Memphis, Tenn.; Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., will return for the live World Championship ESPN stepladder finals Thursday at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT). The World Championship is the fourth and final major championship of the PBA’s 2015 season.
Tackett, who won the PBA Xtra Frame Lubbock Open for his first PBA Tour title earlier this year, put together a 6-2 record in Sunday’s final match play round with games of 221, 243, 205, 215, 234, 224, 279 and 199. Overall for the tournament, which was conducted on five different PBA lane conditions – Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion and World Championship – Tackett averaged 228.92.
“It’s been a special week so far,” said Tackett, who as top qualifier for the stepladder final will have to bowl only one match for the title. “These kinds of weeks don’t come around often but I’ve been here before and now it’s time to take everything I’ve learned and do the best I can which hopefully will be good enough.
“On all the conditions I was throwing the ball well,” he added. “To be safe I drilled up a few balls after the cashers’ round to be ready for match play but for the most part I was letting the changing lane conditions come to me. It seemed I was always bowling best at the end of a round or end of a game.”
Ciminelli, a four-time Tour winner, is trying for his third win of the season and second major after winning the Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open in November.
Faulkner, a former collegiate standout at Webber International University, earned the No. 3 qualifying position with a 15,343 pinfall total and 14-9-1 match play record over the three match play rounds.
Faulkner will have the opportunity to become only the second African American PBA Tour champion. George Branham III, a five-time Tour winner is the Tour’s only African American titlist. Now retired, his last win came in the 1996 Cleveland Open.
Faulkner was a member of the Webber International men’s International Collegiate Championship winning team in 2012 and earned MVP honors in 2013 when the team finished third. He owns one PBA regional title and has a best PBA Tour finish of 22nd which came in the 2015 PBA Bear Open.
“It’s a dream come true to get here,” said the 25-year-old Faulkner. “Everyone dreams about a moment like this. I just had to keep from thinking too far ahead and stay in the moment. If I had a bad game or threw a bad shot I just let it go.”
Norton, the No. 4 qualifier, finished with a 15,331 pinfall and 15-9 record in match play. He will be trying for his fourth title and first major.
Page, also trying for his fourth title, was sixth going into the final position round match, but beat Stuart Williams of England 209-193 to take the fifth and final stepladder spot. Page finished with 15,266 pins a 14-10 record.
Tickets are still available for the World Championship finals which will be available at the door or in advance by ordering on pba.com.
The GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VII presented by Silver Legacy returns to action Monday with best-of-five-single elimination match play rounds of the Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game and GoBowling.com Viper Championship presented by Xtra Frame.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the WSOB are being covered live, exclusively by PBA’s online video streaming service, Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. Real-time results also will be posted on pba.com under its “live scoring” link.
ROLLTECH PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Sunday
FINAL MATCH PLAY STANDINGS (includes match play record and 66-game pinfall total with bonus pins. Top five advance to live ESPN-televised finals Thursday at 7 p.m. ET )
1, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 16-8, 15,589.
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 15-9, 15,517.
3, Gary Faulkner Jr., Memphis, Tenn., 14-9-1, 15,343.
4, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 15-9, 15,331.
5, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 14-10, 15,266.
6, Stuart Williams, England, 11-13, 15,222, $13,000.
7, Dom Barrett, England, 17-7, 15,191, $11,000.
8, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 11-13, 15,178, $10,000.
9, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 15-8-1, 15,123, $9,000.
10, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 14-9-1, 15,100, $8,000.
11, Matthew McNiel, Prior Lake, Minn., 12-12, 15,089, $7,500.
12, Jakob Butturff, Chandler, Ariz., 14-10, 15,046, $7,000.
13, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 12-12, 15,021, $6,500.
14, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 11-13, 14,940, $6,000.
15, Paul Moor, England, 12-12, 14,918, $5,900.
16, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 8-16, 14,910, $5,600.
17, Patrick Girard, Canada, 8-16, 14,857, $5,400.
18, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 11-12-1, 14,847, $5,200.
19, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 7-17, 14,773, $5,000.
20, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 13-11, 14,767, $4,800.
21, Ryan Graywacz, Feeding Hills, Mass., 9-14-1, 14,700, $4,600.
22, Sam Cooley, Australia, 7-16-1, 14,564, $4,500.
23, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 10-14, 14,469, $4,300.
24, n-Warren Crawford, McKinleyville, Calif., 9-15, 14,418, $4,300.