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Rookie Matt Sanders Wins PBA Xtra Frame Billy Hardwick Memorial Open for First PBA Title

7/10/17

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Matt Sanders, a 23-year-old rookie from Evansville, Ind., bowling in his third national tournament as a member, defeated Brian LeClair of Delmar, N. Y., 243-237, to win the Professional Bowlers Association’s Xtra Frame Billy Hardwick Memorial Open presented by Chris Hardwick at Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes.

Sanders, who had his best PBA finish a week ago when he lost to Craig Nidiffer of Trenton, Mich.,
279-268, in the PBA Greater Marion Central Open title match in Marion, Ohio. The former two-time All- American with Marion University- Indiana earned $10,000 – enough to finance his tour activities for the rest of the 2017 season – along with his first title.

“That was my first plastic ball tournament so, so far so good,” he said with a smile. “I had an okay day in qualifying, but I think I figured the lanes out going into today and today I got locked in.

“I was extremely nervous before we started the title match, but I told myself I’ve done this a few times before, so after we got started, there was no reason to be nervous. I wanted to win.”

The loss was another disappointment for LeClair, a 33- year PBA member who has not won a PBA Tour title in 434 events. The 52-year-old has won three times since joining the PBA50 Tour in
2015, but it hurt to have this one slip through his fingers.

“This may have been my last shot at a ‘junior tour’ title,” LeClair said. “Bowling on the senior tour is the same in a lot of ways as it was earlier in my career. My life is a lot more stable, which helps, but it would be nice to have that one missing title.” Sanders earned his trip to the title match with a 253-223 victory over fellow rookie Francois Louw of South Africa. In his previous three- game total pinfall matches, Sanders eliminated top qualifier Kris Prather of Plainfield, Ill., 707-679; rookie Zulmazran Zulkifli of Malaysia, 632-602, and Trevor Roberts of
Crystal River, Fla., 683-675.

LeClair advanced to the title match with a 237-236 victory over Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, when Barnes’ rally ended with a 4 pin on his first shot in the 10th frame. In his two preliminary matches, LeClair defeated Cody Shoemaker of Hanover, Pa., 656-584, and amateur Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, Calif., 641-624.

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine. www.starsandstrikesbowling.com