MONTICELLO, Minn. – Michael Haugen Jr. defeated Bob Learn Jr., 247-246, in the title match to win the PBA50 River City Extreme Open presented by Ebonite Friday for his second title of the season and third of his career.
Haugen, the 2017 PBA50 Rookie of the Year, became the first two-time winner this season and further tightened his grip on the PBA50 Player of the Year points lead with four tournaments remaining in the season.
In the title match, Haugen, who finished first, was able to shut Learn out when he struck on the first ball in the 10th frame and then made the 6-10 spare.
“It was a good thing I got eight and not six or seven on the second ball otherwise I might not be standing here,” said Haugen of his second shot in the 10th frame. “I lost focus for a moment and the result of that shot could have been a lot worse.”
It was a long road for the 51-year-old Haugen to reach the No. 1 qualifying position for the stepladder finals coming all the way from 20th after the first round of qualifying on Wednesday. Haugen made his dramatic climb with the help of a 5-0-1 match play round earlier in the day Friday.
“The lanes were tough for me at the start of the tournament but that just meant I had to do what I do best and that is adjust,” said Haugen, who won the Johnny Petraglia BVL Open in May for his first win of the season. “As the tournament went on I started getting more comfortable to the point where I was able to use my ball speed to make the adjustments I needed.
“I’m just keeping it simple and continuing to do what I have been doing all season,” Haugen continued. “If I keep executing and making good decisions I’ll keep getting good results.”
In the opening stepladder match No. 4 qualifier Brian Kretzer beat No. 5 qualifier PBA Hall of Famer and four-time PBA50 Tour winner Norm Duke, 290-228, to advance to the second match. Kretzer left a 10 pin in the first frame, made the spare, and then strung the next 11 strikes.
In the second match Kretzer, who was trying for his first PBA50 Tour title, beat No. 3 qualifier four-time PBA50 Tour winner Lennie Boresch Jr., 202-199, to advance to the semifinal match against Learn. Kretzer, the 2018 Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open runner-up, threw three strikes in the 10th to beat Boresch after Boresch chopped the 6-10 spare.
Learn, who qualified second for the finals, then beat Kretzer, 238-225, in the semifinal to advance to the title match against Haugen. Learn was trying for his fourth PBA50 Tour title and first since 2015.
The next stop for the PBA50 Tour will be the PBA50 South Shore Open presented by Hammer July 23-26 at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Ind.
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