Connor Pickford wins No. 1 berth for PBA Viper Championship finals


    2014 PBA Tour #8

    Fourth-year pro from North Carolina to make national television debut

    2014PBA08RonnieRussell.jpg2014PBA08ConnorPickford.jpgConnor Pickford (pictured left) of Charlotte, North Carolina, who has never finished higher than 14th in his abbreviated four-year Professional Bowlers Association Tour career, will make his national television debut as the top qualifier in the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI's Viper Championship.

    Pickford, 22, averaged 230.57 for 14 games on the Viper lane condition at South Point Bowling Center Sunday, finishing with a 3,228 pinfall total to capture the No. 1 berth in the Viper Championship ESPN finals by 32 pins over Ronnie Russell (right) of Marion, Indiana.

    2014PBA08DomBarrett.jpg2014PBA08MikaKoivuniemi.jpgEngland's Dom Barrett (left) jumped for fifth to third with a 223 final game and veteran Mika Koivuniemi (right), a native Finn who lives in Hartland, Michigan, held on to fourth place with a 3,141 total, six pins ahead of Australia's Jason Belmonte and 11 ahead of first-round leader B.J. Moore III of Apex, North Carolina.

    The top four players will bowl for the Viper Championship title on Saturday, Nov. 1, in the new South Point Bowling Plaza. The finals will air on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 21.

    "I had an amazing ball reaction tonight," Pickford said. "I've had all of my success with a MOTIV Venom Shock, my purple ball. I told my ball rep when I got into that ball tonight, it was game on. I didn't realize scores were so low because my ball reaction was so good."

    Being in position to win his first national professional title is a dream Pickford began chasing at age 14 when he entered a PBA regional tournament, with parental consent. His dreams were temporarily derailed, he said, when he won $100 in a youth tournament, which resulted in a year-long suspension from the national governing body.

    After sitting out a year, he was reinstated and returned to PBA competition, earning 2011-12 PBA South Region Player of the Year honors.

    "That's when I decided this is what I'm supposed to do with my life," he said. "It's unbelievable to know (making his first TV final) is what I've worked for. A couple of years ago, I watched Jason Sterner – a fellow South Region competitor and a good friend – three all three strikes in 10th to make the show and I remember it was an incredible feeling. Now I get to bowl for my first title. I don't know what to think, but I'm pretty sure I won't get much sleep tonight."

    2014PBAWSOBVIMaskingUnit.jpgWorld Series competition continues with qualifying for the PBA Chameleon Championship, the third of four qualifying legs in the PBA World Championship, Monday. Qualifying squads will bowl at 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. local time.

    All qualifying and match play rounds of the animal pattern events and PBA World Championship will be covered live on Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit and click on the Xtra Frame Season Ticket link.

    Photos by Randy Gulley.


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    PBA Viper Championship - Second Round Standings

    Players with position, hometown/country and 14-game total; ; top four advance to ESPN finals Saturday, Nov. 1

    2014PBA08Finalists.jpg1, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 3,228
    2, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 3,196
    3, Dom Barrett, England, 3,148, $100
    4, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 3,141

    L-R Pickford, Russell, Barrett, and Koivuniemi.

    Missed Cut:
    5, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3,135, $4,000
    6, B.J. Moore III, Apex, N.C., 3,130, $3,500
    7, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 3,116, $3,000
    8, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 3,101, $2,500
    9, Shuichi Heki, Japan, 3,080, $2,200
    10, Eddie Van Daniker Jr., Chatsworth, Calif., 3,064, $2,000
    11, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 3,063, $1,800
    12, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,061, $1,700
    13 (tie), Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., and Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 3,060, $1,625
    15, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 3,049, $1,550
    16, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,042, $1,500
    17, Mike DeVaney, Winchester, Calif., 3,041, $1,450
    18, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 3,037, $1,400
    19, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 3,008, $1,350
    20, John Furey, Freehold, N.J., 3,002, $1,300
    21, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 2,995, $1,275
    22, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 2,965, $1,250
    23, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 2,913, $1,225
    24, John Ferraro, Kingston, N.Y., 2,853, $1,200

    Other Cashers (after 7 games):
    25 (tie), Giorgio Clinaz Jr., Venezuela; Brett Spangler, Niles, Ohio, and Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 1,546, $773
    28, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 1,542, $740
    29, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 1,541, $730
    30, Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 1,540, $720
    31, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 1,538, $710
    32, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill., 1,537, $700

    300 Game: Dom Barrett.


    PBA World Championship Qualifying Standings

    Top 50 after 14 games in Cheetah and Viper Championships; Chameleon and Scorpion rounds will be conducted Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Top 24 after 28 combined games advance to PBA World Championship match play rounds Wednesday and Thursday

    1, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 3,316
    2, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 3,310
    3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,297
    4, B.J. Moore III, Apex, N.C., 3,287
    5 (tie), Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, and Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 3,257
    7, Shuichi Heki, Japan, 3,255
    8, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 3,249
    9, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3,242
    10, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3,233
    11, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,228
    12, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,224
    13, Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga., 3,219
    14, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 3,217
    15, Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Chatsworth, Calif., 3,202
    16, Dom Barrett, England, 3,201
    17, Todd Book, Russells Point, Ohio, 3,200
    18, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 3,197
    19, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 3,196
    20, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 3,195
    21, Dale Coleman, High Springs, Fla., 3,190
    22, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 3,187
    23, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 3,184
    24, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 3,182
    25, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,181
    26, Brett Spangler, Niles, Ohio, 3,180
    27, Brian LeClair, Albany, N.Y., 3,177
    28, Mike DeVaney, Winchester, Calif., 3,171
    29, Patrick Girard, Canada, 3,169
    30, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 3,166
    31, Jim Pratt, Glendale, Ariz., 3,161
    32 (tie), Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., and Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 3,159
    34 (tie), Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, and Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 3,154
    36, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 3,153
    37, Stuart Williams, England, 3,152, $100
    38, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3,150
    39, Perttu Jussila, Finland, 3,148
    40, John Furey, Freehold, N.J., 3,147
    41, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 3,146
    42, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 3,142
    43, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 3,141
    44 (tie), Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., and Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 3,139
    46 (tie), Peter Nordenson, Sweden, and Joe Findling, Mesquite, Texas, 3,137
    48, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,136
    49, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 3,133
    50 (tie), Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich., and Joonas Jehkinen, Finland, 3,125