By Johnny Campos
Brentwood, Calif. – Tom Hess made his first PBA50 title a major effort on Tuesday night.
After earning the top seed for the stepladder finals, Hess blew past fellow PBA50 rookie Chris Barnes, 256-209, in the title match to claim the PBA50 Senior U.S. Open championship at Harvest Park Bowl.
Barnes, a PBA and USBC Hall of Famer, was going for his second win this season, and is in position to win both PBA50 Player of the Year and PBA50 Rookie of the Year honors.
But Hess, 51, is also in the thick of the race for both honors with his second career major title. The Granger, Iowa right-hander, also won the 2011 USBC Masters on the national tour.
“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” Hess said. “This makes me a two-time national titlist – and they’re both majors. One of them is on the senior tour, but it’s not easy to win out here. The tour is full of Hall of Famers, and I stepped up and did my job. No longer am I a one-hit wonder.”
Hess opened the title match with three straight strikes before leaving a 10-pin in the fourth.
Barnes, who had a couple of close calls in the early stepladder matches, stayed close with a spare in the first followed by a three-bagger. But then he suffered back-to-back opens, leaving the 4-6-7 split in the fifth and the 1-2-4-10 washout in the sixth.
Hess answered with a five-bagger to all but put the match away.
“I knew that if I went and bowled up to my capabilities, I was going to win,” Hess said. “Chris is a Hall of Famer, and I knew it was going to be a close match. I just tried to stay present and stay focused.
“If I went through my process, the results were going to be there. I was able to get up there and throw 10 really, really good shots and came away with the win.”
Hess led the tournament after two rounds of match play, going 11-5 and averaging almost 226 for the 32 games. He finished just 16 pins ahead of Amleto Monacelli (who is also in the PBA and USBC Halls of Fame) of Venezuela, the No. 2 seed.
The two bowlers ran away from the rest of the finalists, finishing more than 300 pins ahead of No. 3 seed Chris Warren of Grants Pass., Ore.
Barnes and Rolando Sebelen of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, actually tied for the fourth spot in the stepladder. Barnes won a one-ball rolloff to break the tie and then eliminated Sebelen, 215-188.
Warren, a six-time winner on the PBA Tour, opened with three strikes against Barnes, but faltered in the end. Warren could have won the match going in to the 10th frame, but got a 7-count on his first ball to hand Barnes a 187-186 decision.
Monacelli, who led after the first and third rounds, opened the semifinal match with five straight strikes. But he whiffed a 7-pin midway through the game. Barnes struck out in the 10th to shut him out and won the match, 237-222.
After winning the title and a $10,000 check, Hess got emotional when he was addressing the crowd.
“I get all the joy when things go good, and my wife (Sue) gets all the heartaches when things are going bad,” he said. “For her not to be here, that’s part of getting choked up. I couldn’t walk up there and give her a hug.
“Winning the Masters was a dream come true. This is just adding to that dream.”
The tour now moves to Sam’s Town Bowling Center in Las Vegas for the USBC Super Seniors Classic, which starts on Thursday. The event will be live-streamed on bowltv.com.
PBA Senior U.S. Open
- Tom Hess, Granger, Iowa, $10,000
- Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $5,500
- Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, $3,500
- Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., $2,500
- Rolando Sebelen, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, $2,000
Match 1 – No. 4 Chris Barnes def. No. 5 Rolando Sebelen, 215-188
Match 2 – Barnes def. No. 3 Chris Warren, 187-186
Semifinal match – Barnes def. No. 2 Amleto Monacelli, 237-222
Championship match – No. 1 Tom Hess def. Barnes, 256-209