The road to the stepladder finals of the 55th PBA World Championship is a long one, but it took a dramatic win in the final position round match to vault England’s Stuart Williams into the finals.
In that match, Williams advanced from seventh place to fifth with a 258-194 victory over fellow Englishman and defending World Championship winner Dom Barrett at the South Point Bowling Center last October at the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI in Las Vegas.
The stepladder finals for the PBA World Championship – the third major and final tournament of the season– will be televised live on ESPN Sunday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. ET from the brand new South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.
William’s run to the finals came after four seven-game qualifying rounds and three eight-game match play rounds conducted on five different lane conditions which culminated with the dramatic position round match.
“It was pretty clear that both Dom and I needed to bowl a huge last game to have a chance,” said the 33-year-old Williams. “Because (the standings) were so tight, I think we were both confident we could get into the finals. We were actually pulling for each other knowing that the score was the most important thing.
“After I left a 10 pin in the ninth frame, the pressure began to get a little more intense,” Williams added. “After a bad first shot in the 10th I was able to make the spare and regain my composure to throw the strike in the fill frame (last shot in the 10th frame) to confirm my spot on the ladder.”
Williams, who became the first player from England to win a PBA Tour title when he captured the 2011 PBA Viper Championship during World Series of Bowling III, will be trying for his second PBA Tour title. He will also be trying to improve upon a previous best major finish of third which came in the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Masters. This season he’s had a best Tour finish of third which came in the Kuwait International Open.
As the No. 5 qualifier for the telecast, Stuart will have his work cut out for him. He will meet No. 4 qualifier Todd Book of Russells Point, Ohio, in the opening stepladder match and if he wins that one, he will have to win three more matches for the title. Next in line in the stepladder format would be No. 3 qualifier Ronnie Russell, of Marion, Ind.; No. 2 qualifier Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, and top qualifier Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas.
“I have no idea whether the break (between the World Series match play finals and the ESPN telecast) will make it easier or harder for me, but coming in as the fifth seed I figure I have nothing to lose,” Williams said. “Since the World Series, I’ve been traveling the globe, but I feel like I’m still in really good form. Since Wes has the choice for what condition we’ll be bowling on as top qualifier, and it will be my first experience on the new lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza, I’ll have to wait to see what my strategy will be when I get there.”
As the third and final major of the season the World Championship (formerly called the PBA National Championship from 1960-2001) the tournament has distinguished itself as one of the premier showcases for the world’s best bowling talent. The Earl Anthony Trophy is awarded to the World Championship winner, named after the late PBA Hall of Famer who holds the record for most World Championship wins with six.
To watch video highlights of Williams in action click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8ZaB2p3Unc
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas, Nev., Sunday, Jan. 11 (live on ESPN, 1 p.m. ET)
Fast Facts about Stuart Williams
1. My all-time favorite movie? Pulp Fiction
2. Favorite food or meal? Filet Mignon
3. My all-time favorite TV show? The Wire
4. Favorite musical group? No real favorite
5. Most memorable bowling moment? Winning the World Ranking masters in 2007, closely followed by my lone PBA Tour title (Viper Open) in 2011
6. Most coveted bowling accomplishment? Winning my PBA title
7. What is your prized possession? My City of Barcelona Open trophy. My first international victory, in the first event I ever played in internationally
8. Hobbies other than bowling? Watching movies and sports, especially sports
9. Occupation I’d love if I wasn’t bowling? Professional fantasy football player
10. My all-time sports/bowling hero? Michael Jordan and bowler Choi Bok Eum
11. My most cherished accomplishment outside of bowling? Convincing my wife Tina (former Team USA member Tina Stickney) to marry me
12. Charities I work with that have special meaning to me? Make-A-Wish
13. The No. 1 item on my bowling “bucket list”? Win a second PBA title
14. The No. 1 item on my personal (non-bowling) “bucket list”? To never work a 9-5 job
15. Are you accomplished in any other sports? I was England’s Crown Green Bowls (lawn bowling) national junior champion at 14