Michael Haugen Jr. Wins Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open For First PBA50 Tour Title
LAS VEGAS – PBA50 Tour rookie Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix, a five-time winner on the PBA Tour, won the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open presented by Storm for his first title on PBA’s tour for players 50 and over.
In a championship where both players could not find a consistent line to the pocket, Haugen defeated Brian LeClair of Delmar, N.Y., 173-
158, in the championship match at the
Suncoast Bowling Center.
“It wasn’t pretty but winning ugly is part of the deal in this sport, too,” said Haugen, who was the top qualifier for the finals. “I didn’t do it the way I wanted but a win is a win.”
Both players opened in the first frame which was a sign of what was to come for the rest of the match. LeClair, who was trying for his third win of the season, handed the match to Haugen when he left the 3-6 in the eighth frame and missed both pins on his spare attempt.
“While I was waiting for the title match I could see the lanes (conditions) were changing quickly and it was going to be a challenge,” Haugen said. “For the first part of the game I usually play the pins and then I start playing my opponent. M
“When Brian missed that spare I had to make an educated guess and try to make something happen. Fortunately, I guessed right, got the strike in the ninth and finally felt comfortable about keeping the ball in play to finish the match.”
It was Haugen’s second major title on the national stage with his first coming in PBA’s signature tournament, the Tournament of Champions in 2008. In 2003, he finished second to PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the PBA Tour’s U.S. Open.
“When you’re bowling for a major title like this, strange things can happen,” Haugen added. “You just call on all the experience you have and hope it’s enough.”
Previously this season, Haugen had three championship round appearances with best finishes of third in the PBA50 Players Championship and Pasco County Florida Open. He also finished fifth in the Race City Open.
LeClair, the no. 4 qualifier got off to a strong start winning the opening stepladder match,
224-193, against Australian Andrew Frawley. He then went on to beat three-time PBA50
Tour winner Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wis., 220-191, before edging out Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Twp., Mich. in the semi-final,
Sullins’ third-place finish was his fifth top- five in the Senior U.S. Open. In addition to a runner-up finish in 2016, he has another third- place finish, which came in 2011, fourth in
2009 and fifth in 2010. He was trying for his second PBA50 major title with his first coming in the 2009 PBA Senior World Championship. Trying for his third consecutive Senior U.S. Open title, Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., faded in the final round of match
play finishing 13th for the tournament.
The season’s other PBA50 major winners were Bryan Goebel, who won the PBA50
Players Championship, and Williams, who won last week’s USBC Senior Masters.
The PBA50 Tour takes a five-week break before resuming July 24-27 with the PBA50
South Shore Open presented by DV8 at
Olympia Bowl in Hammond, Ind. Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine. www.starsandstrikesbowling.com