Listen to our podcast with 2014 PBA Chameleon Championship winner, D.J. Archer, here:
Two months after losing his mother to cardiac failure, D.J. Archer of Friendswood, Texas, bowled the biggest game of his life, winning his first Professional Bowlers Association Tour title in the PBA Chameleon Championship and stealing the spotlight from Ronnie Russell of Marion, Indiana, who bowled the first nationally-televised 300 game in the new, $35 million South Point Bowling Plaza a game earlier.
After starting the championship match with two strikes, Archer left the 1-2-4-7-10 in the third frame and failed to convert. But he quickly righted his ship and closed the match with a string of seven strikes to lock Russell out, winning, 241-215.
“Coming into the finals, with everything that’s gone on in my life the past month-and-a-half, I just felt like (my mother) was there,” Archer said about the loss of his mother Sharon at age 59 in mid-September. “The only thing that could have happened in the 10th frame was for me to throw two really good shots and that’s what I did. I felt like nothing was going to stand up. She knocked the pins over for me, and I’m very grateful.”
Archer had finished second once before (in the 2013 Carmen Salvino Classic) during his 12-year PBA Tour career, so he got to experience the thrill of victory for the first time.
“I’ve been chasing this feeling for years, and now that I know what it feels like, I’m going to work harder and get stronger, and hopefully I’ll get this feeling more often,” he said. “I’m excited, very excited. Those guys have been beating my head in for a long time and I figured out a way I learned how to bowl.”
In the opening three-player shootout match, Russell and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, each started with six strikes to open a big lead over J.R. Raymond of Bay City, Michigan, who was making his PBA television debut. Raymond opened in the second frame and never had a chance to catch up.
Rash was the first to end his strike string, leaving a 10 pin in the seventh frame and the 1-2-4-10 “washout” in the eighth, while Russell kept on striking on his way to the PBA’s 24th nationally-televised 300 game. Rash finished with a 265 and Raymond a 186.
“That was a lot of fun,” Russell said, “but you’re still trying to get the win. I had three really good breaks where I tripped 4 or 10 pins, and I think that hurt me in the title game because my laydown point went away a little bit. I kept chasing the transition (in the changing lane condition) with my eyes and feet, but I knew I should have changed balls. I just did it two frames too late.”
The fourth PBA WSOB VI final to air on ESPN will be the Scorpion Championship on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 1 p.m. ET. In the title match, top qualifier Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix will bowl the winner of a three-player shootout match involving No. 2 Scott Newell, Deland, Fla.; No. 3 Martin Larsen, Sweden, and No. 4 Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa.
PBA CHAMELEON CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Championship: D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas ($20,000) def. Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., ($10,000), 241-215.
Shootout Match (winner advanced to championship match, eliminated players earned $6,000): Russell (300) def. Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill. (265) and J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich. (186).