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Bowling News USA - March 29, 2011 The Schlemer Report - Dick Weber Playoffs Show #1

The final event of the PBA 2010-2011 season is here – that is over the next few weeks you will get to watch as the 18 remaining players get narrowed down to only three in the Dick Weber Playoffs. The idea of this format is to build drama and suspense in the weeks leading up to the LIVE telecast to be held on April 17th from the same venue, Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, Indiana. So before I tell you how Randy Weiss and Ryan Shafer made it to the final three in the South Region group, let me explain how this event actually worked.

It started with six separate groups based on the six different PBA regions. The top 25 from each region’s point list were invited to participate; as expected there were some that elected not to. The extra spots in each group were filled with PBA players that bowl national stops and exempt players based on where they rank on the PBA National point list – not necessarily by which region they live and bowl in.

In round one, each group bowled 15 games on the Dick Weber pattern. As expected, the 39-foot pattern did not favor any one style of player – there were multiple angles that worked and no particular ball matched up better than another did. From the Tropical Heat to the Virtual Gravity Nano, all the balls in the product line seemed to be an option. The key wasn’t matching up perfectly; the key was getting a couple of balls in which you could score well enough to advance in your group. That is unless you were in the West/Northwest region. That was the highest scoring group all week. The average cut score for that group was 100 or more pins higher than any other group each round. This was solely based on how they broke the lane condition down. They didn’t have many high rev players so everyone played relatively straight to start and then moved in as needed. The other groups had a variety of styles that caused the lanes to transition differently.

After round one, each group was cut to the top nine based on total pin fall. Then an automatically seeded player ranked 13-18 on the PBA National points list was added to each group for an even 10 players. After six games in round two, each group was cut to the top seven players and a player ranked 7-12 on the PBA National points list was added to make each group eight players. After six more games in round three, each group was cut yet again; this time the top five advanced and were joined by the 1-6 ranked players from the PBA National points list to make each group six players. The fourth round was another six game block with the bottom two players eliminated; thus narrowing each group down to four players for the fifth round which was again a six game block. The lowest score for the round was eliminated from each group therefore creating six groups of three for the taped televised finals.

Of the final three in the South Region, Randy Weiss bowled the most games to get to his first career PBA telecast. Randy qualified for the event through the PBA Regional points list and had to bowl every possible qualifying game to reach the telecast. In round one, Randy used two different Anarchys, a Roto Grip Nomad Dagger, and a Victory Road to advance to round two. For the second round, we drilled a Tropical Heat Black/Silver to compliment the group of balls he used in round one. Storm staffer Ryan Shafer joined the South Region group in round two as the 18th ranked player from the PBA National points list. His arsenal consisted of two Reign Supremes, two Victory Roads, a Hy-Road, a 2Fast, and a Tropical Heat Black/Silver. In round three, Storm staffer Norm Duke entered the South Region as the 7th ranked player from the PBA National points list. Being a straighter player, Norm played the lanes more direct than both Ryan and Randy. He also used stronger balls to start. Norm’s arsenal consisted of the Prodigy he won the US Open with, an Anarchy, and two different Tropical Heats. Norm played 12 to 10 while Randy started 16 to 10 and Ryan started deepest of the three playing around 20 to 10. As the round went on, all three slowly moved deeper and deeper; Ryan of course ended up the deepest playing about 26 at the arrows (that is left of 5th arrow if you are keeping score at home) while Norm made it as deep as 20 at the arrows.

Straighter turned out not to be greater in the South Region as Norm was eliminated in round four. The entire group played farther inside to start than they did the round before. To be honest, Norm got lost in this transition and didn’t make moves fast enough. Even though he made it through the round before, he only had six games in for the week and was not totally in tune with the transitions and how fast they occurred. Randy and Ryan cruised along again and made it through with ease.

Round five was a different story for Randy. He got off to a slow start and was neck and neck with Mike Edwards who was also using Storm. In the end, Randy caught a couple of key breaks while Mike did not and that was the clear difference. Randy snuck by him by less than 20 pins to earn a spot on his first career PBA telecast.

What can I say about the show, other than it was definitely interesting to say the least. Not only did having nine players on the show create a different environment and feel, it totally changed the flow of the show as well. Since there were three separate groups, each were given a practice time of ten minutes before their match. This was to help preserve the lane condition as best as possible so that nine players could bowl under the lights without having to re-oil the TV pair. After the first game shootout between Jaros and Smallwood, we figured the lanes would be all right come the second match – not so much. About half way through practice both Ryan and Randy felt they had good ball choices. Then with two minutes to go in practice, the lanes transitioned again and they both opted for different balls. Randy decided that a pin down, no extra hole Anarchy was his best option and Ryan felt the Victory Road was the answer. Unfortunately, the lanes continued to transition through the first few frames of the match. Ryan felt the lanes opening up as each frame passed; Randy saw more carry down with each frame and had to keep his angles closed. This is just another example of how two players can see the lanes completely different. Although Ryan filled frames and was out to an early lead, as fate would have it, in the tenth frame, he left a costly 7-10 taking him completely out of the match. Tommy Jones filled the tenth, giving Randy the slimmest of chances to advance in his first career telecast. I have to say though that Randy stepped up like a veteran and threw all three in the tenth as if he had been there before. Now, all three shots may not have been picture perfect, but the fact is he didn’t crumble in a pressure situation. He ended up throwing the last five to win the match by one pin. I was most impressed to say the least. 

Randy Weiss

Ryan Shafer

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March, 2011