The final qualifying event to determine the top three players for the 2014 World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by PBA is underway in Thailand. The two-year rolling WBT points competition will be complete when the WBT Thailand at Blu-O Paragon in Bangkok ends on Monday, Aug. 25.
In both situations, defending WBT Thailand and WBT Men’s champion Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., is the player to watch.
Rash, an eight-time PBA Tour titlist, defeated Finnish-American star Mika Koivuniemi, 235-225, 245-228, to win the 2013 WBT Thailand title (Koivuniemi was top qualifier, so Rash had to beat him twice). After winning in Thailand, Rash defeated Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, to win the WBT Men’s Finals during WSOB V. But he’s at risk of not qualifying for the 2014 finals.
Heading into the Thailand event, the WBT Men’s Finals field was a toss-up. Koivuniemi leads the men’s points list with 555 points, 17 points ahead of Australia’s Jason Belmonte (538). Rash is third with 534 points – four points behind Belmonte – but only 27 points ahead of England’s Dom Barrett (507). Barrett is the only other player with a mathematical chance to break into the top three.
With 50 points awarded to the winner in Thailand, a win by any of the four contenders would shake up the final standings for the WBT Men’s Finals, which will be contested (along with the women’s finals) over the Nov. 1-2 weekend during PBA WSOB VI at South Point in Las Vegas.
The top two berths in the women’s finals are decided. Defending WBT Women’s Finals winner Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., has clinched the No. 1 berth with 683 points, more than 200 ahead of Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y. (459). Sweden’s Sandra Andersson is third with 396 points, but she could be overtaken by Singapore’s Jazreel Tan (351) or tied by Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, Calif. (346).
You can follow the progress of the WBT Thailand event by visiting http://www.ttbaworldtour.com/. The champion will take home the top prize of 1 million Thai baht (roughly $32,258 in U.S. dollars) and a PBA International Tour title if he is a PBA member.