Professional Bowlers Association
RENO, Nev. – Jon Van Hees’ patience finally paid its biggest dividend when the 11-year part-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour competitor from Charlestown, R.I., defeated Jason Sterner of Covington, Ga., 202-176, to win the PBA Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA at the National Bowling Stadium, becoming the first Rhode Island native to win a PBA Tour title.
The Scorpion Championship aired Sunday on ESPN. It was the fourth and final “animal pattern” championship contested during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VII presented by Silver Legacy.
“Elated, thousands of emotions,” the 34-year-old Van Hees said about winning a title in his first national television appearance at the end of a string of 106 career tournaments. “I’m trying to get a handle on them. It’s been an unbelievable 48 hours.
“I started this quest 27 years ago. I’ve always been kind of a late bloomer, but if I put the time and effort into it, I can usually get to where I want to go.”
Van Hees got his title after surviving a 209-191 battle with Lonnie Waliczek of Wichita, Kan., in the semifinal round, and a couple of bad frames in the title match after building a nearly insurmountable lead. Sterner won his semifinal match by striking on eight of his first nine shots to run away from PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., 257-174.
He led Waliczek by 24 pins after seven frames before leaving the 4-6-7-9-10 “Greek church” and opening in the ninth frame. When Waliczek was unable to strike to close the gap, Van Hees threw three strikes in his 10th frame to seal a trip to the championship match where he started with three spares and a string of four strikes to build a 49-pin lead over Sterner. Van Hees left a 7-10 split in the eighth frame and failed to convert the 2-4-5-8 in the ninth, but Sterner wasn’t able to close the gap.
“The guys told me it was going to go really fast, and I remember looking up and it was the eighth frame,” Van Hees said. “Against Jason, I threw four really good shots in the middle when I needed them, and thankfully that was enough. Jason left three ringing 10 pins that made a big difference, but sometimes you get breaks and sometimes not. I’ve been on both sides.
“It’s destiny,” he added. “Sometimes you can’t out-bowl destiny. I was hoping today would be my day, and fortunately it was.”
PBA World Series coverage on ESPN continues with the stepladder finals of the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship presented by Storm next Sunday at 1 p.m. EST. Finalists include Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., and Australia’s Jason Belmonte meeting PBA Tour rookie Matt McNiel of Prior Lake, Minn., and Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., in the first Baker format match. The winning team will bowl Josh Blanchard of Phoenix and Andres Gomez of Colombia in match two. That winner faces Finland’s Osku Palermaa and England’s Dom Barrett in the semifinal match. The winner will bowl for the title against top qualifiers Connor Pickford of Charlotte, N.C., and 18-year-old two-handed rookie Anthony Simonsen of Princeton, Texas.
PBA SCORPION CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY RENO TAHOE USA
National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev. (contested Dec. 18, aired Jan. 10, on ESPN)
Championship: Jon Van Hees, Charlestown, R.I. ($20,000) def. Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga. ($10,000), 202-176.
Semifinal Round (losers each earned $5,000): Sterner def. Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 257-174. Van Hees def. Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 209-191.