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Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix survived a 10th-frame mental error to win his fourth Professional Bowlers Association Tour title in the PBA Scorpion Championship at the new South Point Bowling Plaza, and minutes after his 213-206 victory over Sweden’s Martin Larsen, he got the girl of his dreams.
The Scorpion finals, the fourth of five PBA Tour title events conducted during GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI, aired Sunday on ESPN.
In edging Larsen, Haugen, 47, overcame a self-imposed distraction when he prematurely started thinking about his plans to propose marriage to fiancée Phuong Truong right after he won. With victory only a spare or strike away entering the final frame, the 16-year PBA Tour veteran left the 4-10 split and failed to convert, opening the door for Larsen. He escaped with the victory when Larsen left the 4-6-7-9-10 “Greek church” on his second shot in the 10th frame.
“I was told I could only (propose on-air) if I won because you don’t want to take anything away from the tournament winner, so I respected that and I was taking really good care of things,” Haugen said. “But in the ninth frame, I started thinking about asking her to marry me rather than I need to make two more good shots, and that’s all it takes. It was a bonehead decision.
“Luckily I was coherent enough to realize I had to get one pin on that split (in the 10th frame) to force him to double. When (Larsen) really needed (a strike), he got a little soft and grabbed on it, which is what usually happens when you get nervous and need one. Luckily I’ve been there before and he hasn’t, and that’s one of the reasons why I made him finish last.”
In the opening three-player shootout, Larsen raced into the lead with five strikes in the first six frames while neither Scott Newell of Deland, Florida, and Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa, could put together consecutive strikes until Newell doubled in the eighth and ninth frames. Larsen’s missed 4-9 spare attempt in his eighth frame closed his lead over Newell to nine pins, but Larsen finished with four strikes in a row, advancing to the title match with a 236. Newell had a 213 and Hess, who finally doubled in the ninth and 10th, finished fourth with a 205.
The final PBA Tour title event of PBA WSOB VI will be the live ESPN stepladder finals of the PBA World Championship on Sunday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. ET. Top qualifier Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, will bowl for the title against the survivor of three preliminary stepladder matches involving No. 2 qualifier Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas; No. 3 Ronnie Russell of Marion, Indiana, and opening-match opponents Todd Book of Russells Point, Ohio, against No. 5 qualifier Stuart Williams of England. The winner of the final major championship of the PBA season will earn $50,000. Book is the only finalist who will be trying for his first PBA Tour title.
PBA SCORPION CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Championship: Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix ($20,000) def. Martin Larsen, Sweden ($10,000), 213-206.
Shootout Match (winner advanced to championship match, eliminated players earned $6,000): Larsen (236) def. Scott Newell, Deland, Fla. (213) and Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa (205).