Little-known Canadian Graham Fach
, bowling in his second Professional Bowlers Association tournament, led the field of 24 finalists into Friday’s final two rounds of match play in the Barbasol PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in in Columbus, Ohio.
Fach (pictured left), a 24-year-old left-hander who starred at Urbana (Ohio) University a year ago, lost his first three matches in Thursday night’s opening round of match play and momentarily dropped out of the lead.
But he rebounded with four wins in his next five matches, rolling games of 269, 267, 245, 278 and 266 to regain first place by 49 pins over Anthony Pepe (above right) of Elmhurst, N.Y. Fach had 7,960 pins, Pepe 7,761.
Ryan Ciminelli (pictured left) of Cheektowaga, N.Y., was third with 7,895 pins followed by Australia’s Sam Cooley (right) with 7,863 pins. EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., was fifth, 21 pins behind Cooley.
Three PBA Hall of Famers are continuing to chase history: Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., who would become the second player in PBA history to complete the so-called “Super Slam” of major titles with a win in the Players Championship, Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., who is trying to win back-to-back Players Championships, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., who would improve upon his PBA-record 47 career titles with a win.
Duke was in seventh place, Bohn in 10th and Williams 21st heading into Friday’s final two eight-game rounds of match play.
Pete Weber (left) of St. Ann, Mo., who was trying for a PBA-record 11th major title, withdrew at the end of the third round due to a chronic hip injury. Weber was in ninth place at the time, only 78 pins out of fifth place.
But Fach (pronounced “faw”) remains the story with his consistent performance and unflappable attitude.
“I don’t want to look (at who’s behind me); I just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “There were fewer people today, so I had to deal with more transitions. I didn’t score as well today as I did in my first two rounds, but I’m learning to deal with (how the lane conditions change).
“I’m feeling real good; I’m trying not to think about games ahead,” he added. “Every time I think about TV, I kick myself and tell myself to focus. There are still 16 games with bonus pins to go.”
For now, Fach is happy to be finally realizing a lifelong dream. “I’ve wanted to bowl our here ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I told myself I’d go pro at some point, but every time I thought about it, I found a reason not to. I finally decided to dive in.
“I’m getting lots of support – back home in Canada, at school, the Urbana high school bowling team. Not just bowlers, but people I’ve known throughout my life. It’s great,” he said.
The Barbasol PBA Players Championship continues Friday with the final two eight-game match play rounds at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday. After 48 games, the top five players will advance to the live ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
All preliminary rounds will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video-streaming service.
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Past PBA Players Championship winners Belmonte, Norton, Bohn earn retroactive majors
Barbasol PBA Players Championship returns to major title status
2016 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions
PBA Players Championship – Fourth Round Standings
Players with position, hometown and 32-game total, including match play bonus pins
1, Graham Fach, Ontario, Canada, 4-4, 7,960
2, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 5-3, 7,911
3, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6-2, 7,895
4, Sam Cooley, Australia, 6-2, 7,863
5, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 5-3, 7,712
6, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 6-2, 7,688
7, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 7-1, 7,683
8, Patrick Allen, South Salem, N.Y., 5-3, 7,619
9, Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, 5-3, 7,611
10, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 6-2, 7,609
11, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4-4, 7,596
12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4-4, 7,551
13, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 4-4, 7,534
14, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 4-4, 7,533
15, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3-5, 7,510
16, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 4-4, 7,498
17, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 3-5, 7,428
18, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 2-6, 7,414
19, x-Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3-5, 7,363
20, Dom Barrett, England, 2-6, 7,344
21, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 2-6, 7,326
22, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 4-4, 7,318
23, Ronnie Sparks Jr., Ecorse, Mich., 2-8, 7,310
24, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 0-8, 7,233
x-Smallwood replaced Weber, who withdrew due to injury.
300 Games (1) – Anthony Pepe.
PBA Players Championship – Standings after Casher’s Round
Players with position, hometown and 24-game total; top 24 advance to round robin match play; places 25-36 show earnings; f-denotes female
1, Graham Fach, Ontario, Canada, 5,843
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 5,798
3, Sam Cooley, Australia, 5,767
4, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 5,761
5, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5,715
6, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 5,700
7, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 5,650
8, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 5,641
9, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 5,637
10, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 5,635
11, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 5,633
12, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 5,607
13, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 5,599
14, Dom Barrett, England, 5,594
15, Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, 5,591
16, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 5,583
17, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 5,562
18, Patrick Allen, South Salem, N.Y., 5,550
19, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 5,537
20, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 5,533
21, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 5,531
22, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 5,529
23, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 5,507
24, Ronnie Sparks Jr., Ecorse, Mich., 5,506
25, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 5,504, $1,700
26, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 5,488, $1,650
27, f-Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 5,486, $1,600
28, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 5,481, $1,550
29, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 5,464, $1,500
30, Francois Lavoie, Wichita, Kan., 5,459, $1,450
31, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 5,446, $1,400
32, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 5,444, $1,350
33, Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas, 5,379, $1,300
34, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 5,374, $1,250
35, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 5,341, $1,200
36, Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 5,333, $1,150
300 Games (2) – Ryan Ciminelli, Norm Duke.