COLUMBUS, Ohio – Little-known Canadian Graham Fach, bowling in his second Professional Bowlers Association tournament, led the field of 24 finalists into Friday’s final two rounds of match play in the Barbasol PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Fach, a 24-year-old left-hander who starred at Urbana (Ohio) University a year ago, lost his first three matches in Thursday night’s opening round of match play and momentarily dropped out of the lead. But he rebounded with four wins in his next five matches, rolling games of 269, 267, 245, 278 and 266 to regain first place by 49 pins over Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y. Fach had 7,960 pins, Pepe 7,761. Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., was third with 7,895 pins followed by Australia’s Sam Cooley with 7,863 pins. EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., was fifth, 21 pins behind Cooley.
Among the players who are continuing to chase history are three PBA Hall of Famers: Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., who would become the second player in PBA history to complete the so-called “Super Slam” of major titles with a win in the Players Championship, Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., who is trying to win back-to-back Players Championships, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., who would improve upon his PBA-record 47 career titles with a win. Duke was in seventh place, Bohn in 10th and Williams 21st heading into Friday’s final two eight-game rounds of match play.
Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., who was trying for a PBA-record 11th major title, withdrew at the end of the third round due to a chronic hip injury. Weber was in ninth place at the time, only 78 pins out of fifth place.
But Fach (pronounced “faw”) remains the story with his consistent performance and unflappable attitude.
“I don’t want to look (at who’s behind me); I just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “There were fewer people today, so I had to deal with more transitions. I didn’t score as well today as I did in my first two rounds, but I’m learning to deal with (how the lane conditions change).
“I’m feeling real good; I’m trying not to think about games ahead,” he added. “Every time I think about TV, I kick myself and tell myself to focus. There are still 16 games with bonus pins to go.”
For now, Fach is happy to be finally realizing a lifelong dream.
“I’ve wanted to bowl our here ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I told myself I’d go pro at some point, but every time I thought about it, I found a reason not to. I finally decided to dive in.
“I’m getting lots of support – back home in Canada, at school, the Urbana high school bowling team. Not just bowlers, but people I’ve known throughout my life. It’s great,” he said.
The Barbasol PBA Players Championship continues Friday with the final two eight-game match play rounds at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday. After 48 games, the top five players will advance to the live ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
All preliminary rounds will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video-streaming service. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.
BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Thursday
Fourth Round Standings (after 32 games, including match play bonus pins) 1, Graham Fach, Ontario, Canada, 4-4, 7,960. 2, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 5-3, 7,911. 3, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6-2, 7,895. 4, Sam Cooley, Australia, 6-2, 7,863. 5, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 5-3, 7,712. 6, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 6-2, 7,688. 7, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 7-1, 7,683. 8, Patrick Allen, South Salem, N.Y., 5-3, 7,619. 9, Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, 5-3, 7,611. 10, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 6-2, 7,609. 11, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4-4, 7,596. 12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4-4, 7,551. 13, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 4-4, 7,534. 14, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 4-4, 7,533. 15, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3-5, 7,510. 16, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 4-4, 7,498. 17, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 3-5, 7,428.
18, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 2-6, 7,414. 19, x-Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3-5, 7,363. 20, Dom Barrett, England, 2-6, 7,344. 21, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 2-6, 7,326. 22, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 4-4, 7,318. 23, Ronnie Sparks Jr., Ecorse, Mich., 2-8, 7,310. 24, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 0-8, 7,233.
Failed to advance (after 24 games): 25, x-Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 5,637. 26, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 5,488, $1,650.
27, f-Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 5,486, $1,600. 28, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 5,481, $1,550. 29, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 5,464, $1,500. 30, Francois Lavoie, Wichita, Kan., 5,459, $1,450. 31, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 5,446, $1,400. 32, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 5,444, $1,350. 33, Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas, 5,379, $1,300. 34, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 5,374, $1,250. 35, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 5,341, $1,200. 36, Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 5,333, $1,150.
x-Smallwood replaced Weber, who withdrew due to injury.
300 Games: Ryan Ciminelli, Norm Duke, Anthony Pepe.