Sean Rash Wins PBA Badger And Detroit Opens for Back-to-Back Fall Swing Titles
ALLEN PARK, Mich. - With two major titles and more than five Professional Bowlers Association Tour titles to his credit, 2011-12
PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash established his PBA Hall of Fame eligibility three years ago. But there’s something undeniably satisfying about reaching the 10-title milestone.
Rash, at age 34, became the 51st player to enter the 10-win club by beating another 10- time winner Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas,
259-195, in the championship match of the
PBA Badger Open at Thunderbowl Lanes.
Rash took an early lead that he never relinquished, striking in the first four frames and failing to strike in only the fifth and seventh frames. Malott, who was trying for his first title since winning the 2015 Roth/Holman Doubles with partner Norm Duke in March
2015, struggled to find the pocket until throwing a strike in the fourth frame.
“It seemed like a long time ago that I got my first win (West Virginia Championship in
2005-06), but I’m hoping I can get the next
10 a little quicker,” said Rash. “I knew it would be just a matter of time. You just have to keep knocking on the door until it opens and it opened today.”
Rash also had to deal with the effects of a hand injury that has bothered him for nearly a year but through various therapies plus changing the grip layout on his ball, he has been able to minimize the pain.
“I’ve tried everything – doctor, chiropractor, massage therapy, ice, you name it. I’ve got it to where it’s manageable and doesn’t have an obvious effect on my bowling. Overall, I’m working out to get in better shape, but as far as my hand is concerned, the key is to reduce the pressure on my hand. As you get older I guess things are going to happen.”
Rash, the No. 2 qualifier, advance to the title championship by beating young Canadian Graham Fach, 224-205, in the semifinal. Fach, a rookie of the year candidate, won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship earlier this season.
The finals started with No. 5 qualifier and three-time reigning Player of the Year Jason Belmonte squeaking out a one-pin victory over No. 4 qualifier Francois Lavoie, 226-225. In the second match, Fach dominated beating Belmonte, 249-161.
With his victory, Rash joined Bear Open winner EJ Tackett and Wolf Open titlist Tom Daugherty as the first three players to earn berths in the King of the Swing telecast, which will feature the four PBA Fall Swing title winners plus the player who finishes highest in overall points without winning a title.
After winning his 10th career PBA Tour title in the PBA Badger Open, Sean Rash didn’t waste any time starting on his next 10 titles by winning the PBA Detroit Open for his second consecutive win in the final championship event of the 2016 PBA Fall Swing.
In a low scoring match on the demanding 40-foot PBA Bear lane condition, Rash beat
rival and top qualifier Jason Belmonte, 178- 161, in the title match of the fourth event of the PBA Fall Swing. The finals aired on CBS Sports Network.
As the tournament leader, Belmonte had his choice of selecting the Wolf, Bear or Badger Fall Swing lane oil patterns and chose the Bear pattern.
While neither player could get into a rhythm, Rash was helped by strikes in the first three of four frames. A missed single pin spare by three-time reigning PBA Player of the Year Belmonte was a portent of things to come as he left a 3-4-6-7 split in the fourth frame and a
3-4-6-7-10 split in the ninth frame, failing to convert either one.
“This (lane conditioning) pattern will eat you up,” said Rash, who was the No. 2 qualifier for the finals. “It’s probably the toughest condition we bowl on. It can be like an obstacle course.
“You take a tough condition like this and then you throw in the changing environment of bowling on TV where there are so many variables, from the changing lane conditions frame-to-frame to the different styles of the players in the earlier matches,” Rash continued. “It’s not like bowling on league night, believe me.”
Belmonte notched his third top-five finish in four Fall Swing events after finishing third in the Wolf Open and fourth in the Badger Open, but his bid for his first title of 2016 escape him once again.
In the semifinal match, Rash beat 10-time Tour winner and 2009 Player of the Year Wes Malott, 202-198, striking out in the 10th frame to take the four-pin victory. Rash also had defeated Malott, 259-195, in the title match of the Badger Open.
“I didn’t get off to a great start in the match (against Malott), so I was grateful to be in a position where I could win,” said Rash, who won PBA Player of the Year honors for the
2011-12 season. “I just stayed with the game plan of playing straighter, keep the ball in play and fill the frames. I could have probably done better but I did good enough to win.”
Rash was the first player to win back-to-back in 2016, joining Jesper Svensson (three titles) and fellow two-time winners E.J. Tackett and Ryan Ciminelli as the year’s only multiple title winners.
The Detroit Open finalists earned their berths in the stepladder finals by finishing in the top five after a combined total of 36 games in the Wolf, Bear and Badger Open qualifying rounds. Belmonte led finalists with a combined
229.9 average on the three vastly different lane conditions.
In the first match of the finals, Tackett, the Bear Open winner and No. 5 qualifier, defeated Wolf Open winner and No. 4 qualifier Tom Daugherty, 231-159. In the second match, No. 3 qualifier Malott eliminated Tackett, 201-
195, to advance to the semifinal against Rash. Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine. www.starsandstrikesbowling.com