No pro bowler is happy when he or she is dropped by a sponsor — something that happens several times every year — but few, if any, have ever taken the step of ‘calling out’ a company that dropped them in such a public manner as Tom Daugherty did after clinching the PBA Wolf Open title on CBS Sports Network Wednesday night.
“Thank you, Hammer, for believing in me,” he said after downing Francois Lavoie in the title match, 212-192. He had climbed the ladder with prior wins over Anthony Simonsen, Chris Barnes and Jason Belmonte. “Storm, you should have never let me go. You threw four at me, and I took them all down.”
The day after the show aired, Daugherty, who previously represented Storm but now is a member of Ebonite’s pro staff, explained to BJI that, “When I say they ‘let me go,’ they didn’t ‘let me go.’ I felt I deserved more than I was offered in my contract. We had a difference of opinion on that, and they have every right to make the decision that they made. I chose not to accept their contract, and therefore I feel it is in my best interest to make them regret not agreeing with what I thought my value was to the company.”
Storm Products President, Dave Symes, told BJI that, "We never doubted Tom's ability. He's a great player and we would have loved to have him stay with us. It was unfortunate we were not able to meet the offer extended to him by Hammer and we understand why he took it. All in all, we are very happy for him."
Daugherty is having the best year of his career, making shows at two majors, the Tournament of Champions and the USBC Masters, and now winning his first PBA Tour title in four years at the Wolf Open. Could the “difference of opinion” he describes have been the motivation he needed to take his game to the next level?
“It showed me where Storm felt my value was, and it made me think, ‘You know what? If they don’t think I’m that good, then maybe I’m really not that good.’ So, I’ve put a little effort this year into proving to them that, yes, I think I am better than they think I am, and I am going to take every opportunity to prove that to them. So, yes, that is 100 percent the driving force behind my year this year.”
For Daugherty, putting in “a little effort” has nothing to do with any changes to his game; it has to do with changing his mind.
“I’ve just focused a little more and not taken for granted what I’m doing,” he said. “A lot of times, a lot of years, a lot of tournaments, whether it’s going out the night before or doing stuff that I shouldn’t be doing, that’s all gone to the wayside. I realized, you know, I’m 41 years old; I am in the twilight of my bowling career. It’s time to wake up and realize that if you want to make something of yourself, you’re running out of time.”
The brash persona Daugherty conveys in his TV appearances belies the humble player he has been in his interviews with BJI over the years. That was no different this time around.
Speaking of his two superstar opponents on the Wolf Open show, Daugherty said, “I am nothing compared to Jason Belmonte,” and expressed his belief that Barnes “is one of, if not the best player in the history of our sport talent-wise."
Daugherty also dismissed the notion that his career year should make him part of the 2016 PBA Player of the Year discussion, saying that unless he wins one of the two remaining majors in 2016, the U.S. Open or the PBA World Championship, “I’m not even a blip on Jesper [Svensson’s] radar.”
“I’ve got to win a major. That’s what it comes down to. Yes, I made two of the shows for majors but I didn’t win and that’s what everybody remembers. At this point, I have only one title in 2016. There are two majors left this year, and if I can sneak one of them in there, then definitely I deserve to be talked about.”