COLUMBUS, Ohio – Graham Fach, a 24-year-old left-hander from Guelph, Ontario, became the first Canadian ever to win a Professional Bowlers Association Tour title Sunday when he defeated top qualifier Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 279-244, to win the Barbasol Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Fach, bowling in only his second PBA Tour event, was nearly perfect in winning the $40,000 first prize, a PBA major championship and a Barbasol shaving cream pie. His only flaw was leaving a 10 pin, which he converted, in the seventh frame while Ciminelli was almost as good, leaving and converting four single-pin spares.
“It’s a great feeling to win against players of this caliber,” Fach (pronounced “faw”) said. “They want to win, but obviously I want to win, too. I wasn’t sure I would be able to compete out here, but the only way to find out is come out and try. Now at least the PBA staff knows who I am.”
Fach, who earned his shot at the title when he escaped with a 247-244 win over Australia’s Sam Cooley in the semifinal round, said the support he’s gotten from Canadian fans as well as friends and teammates from nearby Urbana (Ohio) University, where he completed his collegiate bowling career in 2015, has been “incredible.”
As happy as Fach was, Ciminelli was equally distraught.
“One of these days someone is going to shoot 210 against me on TV and give me a chance,” he said. “It’s frustrating but there’s not much more I could do about it.”
In the first game of the finals, 21-year-old Swedish two-hander Jesper Svensson struck on 10 of his first 11 shots, and converted a pivotal 4-7-10 split in the fifth frame to end PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke’s bid to win a fifth different major championship, 274-258. Duke, who had previously won the PBA World Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions, USBC Masters and U.S. Open, had hopes of joining Mike Aulby as the second player to win the PBA “Super Slam.”
“I fought hard,” the 51-year-old Duke said. “I never created an advantage in this tournament that stuck out. I was the one hanging around all week, but I put together a game I was really proud of and sometimes it just isn’t enough. The hardest part is I have to wait another year for the opportunity.”
Cooley, in his PBA television debut, eliminated Svensson in the second match, 246-206.
The PBA Tour will take a break during “March Madness,” returning to competition with the PBA League Elias Cup competition and the Xtra Frame Maine Shootout in early April at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.
BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Sunday
Final Standings 1, Graham Fach, Ontario, Canada, $40,000. 2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., $20,000. 3, Sam Cooley, Australia, $12,000. 4, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, $11,000. 5, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $10,000.
Stepladder Results Match One: Svensson def. Duke, 274-258. Match Two: Cooley def. Svensson, 246-206. Semifinal Match: Fach def. Cooley, 247-244. Championship: Fact def. Ciminelli, 279-244.