Tom Smallwood Wins PBA Scorpion Championship for Second Tour Title
LAS VEGAS – Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., ended a four-year television drought when he defeated collegiate star Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., 221-216, to win his second Professional Bowlers Association Tour title in the Scorpion Championship at the South Point Hotel and Casino complex.
The Scorpion Championship, which aired Sunday on ESPN, was the final animal pattern championship conducted as part PBA World Series of Bowling V, and the fourth in a series of seven events conducted during the World Series. It also featured the innovative blue oil that has been used during all animal pattern tournament finals to give television fans a unique opportunity to see the lane conditioning challenges PBA players face.
Smallwood, who won his only previous PBA Tour title in the 2009 PBA World Championship, ended a personal six-appearance television drought when he out-lasted 2011-12 PBA Rookie of the Year Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz., in a PBA-record five-frame sudden-death roll-off, followed by another thrilling victory over Kent for the title.
Blanchard started the stepladder finals with a 234-226 victory over Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., but lost to Smallwood in the semifinal match roll-off. A six-count on his final shot in the 10th frame tied the match at 232-232. After throwing matching strikes in four one-ball, sudden-death frames, Smallwood ended the longest televised sudden-death roll-off in PBA history with a fifth strike while Blanchard left a 10 pin.
In the title match against Kent, a two-time Collegiate Player of the Year who was competing in the World Series on a special PBA Commissioner’s exemption, Smallwood struck on six of his first seven shots, but failed to convert a 3-10 split in the fourth frame. Kent, with a four-strike string of his own, held an early 13-pin lead, but a 7-10 split in the ninth frame proved to be the difference. A spare and nine-count on his fill ball in the 10th frame clinched the title for Smallwood.
“I thought if I ever made another show and won, I’d bawl like a baby,” Smallwood said, “but I was so emotionally drained, I didn’t have any emotions left.
“It’s amazing,” he added. “I never dreamed in my life I’d have one (title), so to have two? As a kid, all I ever wanted was a chance to be there. I watched these guys on TV forever. I’ve bowled bad enough on TV enough times it’s nice to be on the other side of a bad break. That last time I was (on TV), I got knocked out of the World Championship when I left back to back 4-9s, so I know the feeling.”
Smallwood said the difference was finding his shot to the pocket in the roll-off against Blanchard.
“In the roll-off (against Blanchard), my timing got really good. The first shot was perfect, it was like, there it is,” Smallwood said. “After that, I never missed until the fifth shot and I apparently missed in the right place on that one, so it worked out well.”
Smallwood joined the list of animal pattern finalists who said the blue oil had no bearing on his game or the outcome.
“(The blue oil) doesn’t matter as long as you can see the target you’re looking for,” he said. “It’s so clear I could see the board I was looking at, so it had no effect on me at all.”
ESPN coverage of the PBA World Series continues next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with the finals of the PBA World Championship, the final major championship of the season. Smallwood will make his third consecutive television appearance, bowling against PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., in the opening match. Other finalists are No. 3 qualifier Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas; No. 2 Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., and top qualifier Dom Barrett of England.
A recap of the Scorpion Championship and a preview of the PBA World Championship, along with other features, will be available Monday on “The Bowling Center” on YouTube.com. Xtra Frame subscribers who may have missed Sunday’s telecasts will be able to watch the finals “on demand” in the Xtra Frame archives three days after the original show airs.
2013 SCORPION CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Exhibition Hall, Las Vegas
1, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., $20,000.
2, a-Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $10,000.
3, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz., $7,000.
4. Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., $5,000.