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Marshall Kent outlasts Chris Barnes to win PBA Oklahoma Open

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In a title match that featured five lead changes, Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., outlasted 18-time PBA Tour winner Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, to win the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Oklahoma Open Sunday for his second title of the season and fourth of his career.

With both players struggling to start the match, Kent (pictured above with the trophy) fired four consecutive strikes to defeat Barnes, 194-188, during the ESPN telecast contested on two specially-installed lanes in the Grand Hotel Event Center for his first win on national television.

“That was a lot harder than I wanted to work,” said the 24-year-old Kent, “but I’m grateful to be standing here as the winner. It’s a dream come true.”

With both players hampered by splits, Barnes (right) held a 12-pin lead in the eighth frame but Kent was able to come back with strikes in the eighth, ninth and the first two in the 10th to clinch the win.

“The first half of the game I just didn’t throw the ball well,” Kent said. “I knew after the seventh frame I still had a chance but I had to buckle down and make good shots. Finally, I executed the way I should have and was fortunate to put those strikes together.”

Kent, who was the top qualifier for the finals averaging 227.4 for the tournament contested on four different PBA lane conditions, earned the opportunity to choose the lane conditions for both Saturday’s semi-final and Sunday’s championship stepladder rounds. He chose the 40-foot Bear lane condition for Saturday’s round but changed his selection to the 32-foot Wolf Wolf for the championship round.

“In the semi-final the right side (of the lane) got a little ugly and the guys were struggling,” Kent (left) said. “It just didn’t develop the way I thought and felt I would have a more consistent reaction on the Wolf. I was good with my decision, I just had to execute.”

Kent had not won a match on television in six appearances which included three runner-up finishes that came in the 2016 U.S. Open, 2015 Wolf Open and 2013 Scorpion Open, where he was the top seed in each stepladder final.

“This win was important for my confidence,” Kent said. “I proved I have the versatility to compete on a variety of lane conditions and I can win in a pressure situation.”

In the opening match, Barnes, who qualified fourth for the finals, defeated six-time Tour winner Jesper Svensson (right, with PBA’s Kimberley Pressler) of Sweden, 190-149, who earned his berth in the championship round by winning Saturday’s semi-final round.

In the second match Barnes beat four-time Tour winner and No. 3 qualifier Rhino Page (left) of Orlando, 206-185, to advance to the semi-final match where he beat three-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia, 256-218.

After a slow start in the tournament, finishing 28th after the first round and 12th after the third round earlier in the week, Belmonte (right) surged to the no. 2 qualifying spot for the finals by averaging 256 in the fourth round on the 44-foot Oklahoma lane condition.

The next stop for the PBA Tour will be the Storm PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles July 27-30 in Houston.

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Grand Hotel Casino & Resort PBA Oklahoma Open

FireLake Bowling Center and Grand Hotel Casino & Resort Arena in Shawnee, Okla., USA (June 26-July 2, 2017)

Championship Round:
1, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 194 (1 game), $30,000
2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 840 (4 games), $15,000
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 218 (1 game), $12,000
4, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 185 (1 game), $10,000
5, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 149 (1 game), $9,000

Playoff Results:
First Match: No. 4 Barnes def. No. 5 Svensson, 190-149
Second Match: Barnes def. No. 3 Page, 206-185
Semi-final Match: Barnes def. No. 2 Belmonte, 256-218
Championship: No. 1 Kent def. Barnes, 194-188.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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