The individual accomplishments of Mark Roth and Marshall Holman are things of legend. Roth, a four-time player of the year, ranks tied for fifth all-time with 34 titles. Holman, the 1987 player of the year, ranks 11th all-time with 22 titles. They are credited with revolutionizing the sport with the power games they introduced to bowling.
But among their 56 combined titles are three doubles championships. When it came to teaming up as doubles partners, both players were a force to be reckoned with at the annual PBA Tour doubles events.
In honor of the PBA Hall of Famers, Sunday’s Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship on ESPN from Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis bears the name of the two greats who also made their mark as one of the top doubles teams in PBA history. Only the team of Hall of Famers Mike Aulby and Steve Cook has as many doubles titles as Holman and Roth.
Roth and Holman won their first doubles title in the 1977 PBA Doubles Classic at Saratoga Lanes in San Jose, Calif., where they combined for a 7-4-1 match play record and 15,528 pinfall total to outscore runners-up Paul Colwell and Don Johnson by 416 pins.
In 1979, as the top-qualifying team, Roth and Holman won the Columbia Doubles Classic in San Jose with a combined 406 championship match total, defeating Larry Laub and Palmer Fallgren, who combined for a 374 pinfall.
And in 1984 Roth and Holman captured the Showboat Doubles Classic in Las Vegas by defeating Dave Husted and Ted Hannahs in a low-scoring alternate frame championship match, 169-160.
Though fierce rivals on the PBA Tour, it was evident both players had a chemistry that made them successful doubles partners.
“Our bowling styles complemented each other,” said the 60-year-old Holman, who now owns a tax service business in his hometown of Medford. “We played a similar part of the lane which made it easy to line up off each other. From my perspective, I could always count on Mark making a good shot and then it was just a matter of me taking in that information to make a good shot.
“We looked forward to bowling doubles because on Tour you were always alone competing by yourself,” Holman added, “so it was always a nice change of pace to be in a kind of team environment where you could pull for each other.”
The 63-year-old Roth, who continues to make progress in his recovery after a stroke in 2009 which partially paralyzed his left side, also enjoyed the divergence from individual competition while keeping in mind a PBA Tour title was at stake.
“We worked well as a team – he helped me out and I helped him out. Even though it was something we had fun with, you had to remember to take it seriously and stay focused because there was a PBA title on the line.”
Xtra Frame subscribers were treated to several hours of commentary by Roth and Holman during the match play rounds of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions at Woodland Bowl earlier in February, and both will be on hand for Sunday’s doubles telecast at 1 p.m. ET.
The doubles pair to beat Sunday will be top qualifiers and defending champions Norm Duke, a Hall of Famer and 37-time PBA Tour winner, and 2008-09 PBA Player of the Year Wes Malott. The tandem won the 2011 Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship at the South Point complex in Las Vegas, the last time the event was held.
Also making up Sunday’s stepladder finals lineup will be No. 2 qualifiers Tom Daugherty and Dino Castillo, No. 3 Bill O’Neill and Jason Belmonte, No. 4 DJ Archer and Shawn Maldonado, and No. 5 Dom Barrett and Osku Palermaa.