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 (pictured above with his wife Sara and daughter Kaylee), 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. The finals for the third tournament of the PBA Fall Swing aired Wednesday, Oct. 5, on the CBS Sports Network.
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 (left), 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 (right), 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 (below right), also of Canada, 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.
PBA Fall Swing telecasts on CBSSN continue with the Detroit Open on Oct. 12 and the King of the Swing special event on Oct. 19. All Fall Swing shows air at 9 p.m. ET.
Wes Malott earns No. 1 berth for PBA Badger Open Finals
target=”_blank”>PBA Fall Swing returns to Detroit’s historic Thunderbowl Lanes
2016 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions
PBA Badger Open – Stepladder Results
Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., USA (Sept. 7-10, 2016)
1, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 483 (2 games), $10,000
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 195 (1 game), $5,000
3, Graham Fach, Canada, 454 (2 games), $4,000
4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 387 (2 games), $3,500
5, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 225 (1 game), $3,000
From left, Wes Malott, Sean Rash, Graham Fach, Francois Lavoie and Jason Belmonte.
First Match: No. 5 Belmonte def. No. 4 Lavoie, 226-225
Second Match: No. 3 Fach def. Belmonte, 249-161
Semi-final Match: No. 2 Rash def. Fach, 224-205
Championship: Rash def. No. 1 Malott, 259-195.