Connor Pickford, Anthony Simonsen roll into PBA Doubles Championship lead


    PBA Tour 2015/16

    Two-time defending champions Duke, Malott fail to advance to match play

    2014PBAWSOBConnorPickford.jpg2014PBAAnthonySimonsen.jpgFifth-year Professional Bowlers Association member Connor Pickford (pictured left) of Charlotte, N.C., and 18-year-old rookie Anthony Simonsen (right) of Princeton, Texas, bowling as doubles partners for the first time, averaged a combined 240 to lead qualifying in the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship presented by Storm at the South Point Bowling Plaza Monday.

    Both players, trying for their first PBA Tour titles, led the field of 12 teams that advance to two six-game rounds of round-robin team match play competition Tuesday. The top five teams after 20 team games (40 individual games) will advance to the ESPN stepladder finals.

    The finals will be contested on Saturday, Dec. 19, as a part of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VII at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., for delayed airing on Sunday, Jan. 17, and will be counted as a 2016 title on the official PBA stats.

    2014PBADJArcher2.jpg2014PBAShawnMaldonado.jpgAmong the teams failing to advance were two-time defending Roth/Holman Doubles champions Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., and Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, who qualified in 14th place.

    Pickford and Simonsen, who dropped to ninth place with three games to go Monday, fired games of 289 and 266, respectively, in game six to charge into the lead and they held on to finish with 3,810 pins, 26 pins ahead of DJ Archer (left) of Friendswood, Texas, and Shawn Maldonado (right) of Houston, Texas.

    Third with a combined 16-game total of 3,756 pins was the team of Matt McNeil, Prior Lake, Minn., and Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y.

    Simonsen, who decided to join the PBA a little over a year ago after cashing in a pair of PBA regional tournament as an amateur, "decided to take the opportunity and go after it. I had the desire to bowl on the PBA Tour for a long time. My parents used to record all of the TV shows and I grew up spending my nights watching the PBA."

    He also took up the sport as a two-handed player at age 3, when a bowling ball was too heavy to throw with one hand, and he never stopped using the two-handed technique that is growing in popularity.

    Pickford, who led the PBA Viper Championship at South Point a year ago only to lose in the title match to Finland's Mika Koivuniemi, picked Simonsen as his doubles partner when a group of five players known as "Team Fish" entered the PBA Team Challenge, which will be held later in the week.

    "Once we made up Team Fish for the Team Challenge, we kinda decided to pick our own partners and I instantly put dibs on Anthony," Pickford said. "But after the way all of us bowled today, it seemed like any of the five of us could have put our scores together and we'd have done fine. There was no such thing as a bad partner in that group."

    While their big game propelled them to the top, Pickford said, "We didn't really lose the pocket all day. We missed one makeable spare all day, and that was a chop, so we're pretty proud of that.

    "Our key was just communicating what we saw on the first couple of shots on each pair and staying on top of the transition. It kinda threw us at first that teams on the left lane were moving to the left, and teams on the right lane moved right all day. We've never done that before in a PBA event, but it was cool. We got to bowl with a lot of guys. I liked it, and we just happened to capitalize on it."

    The Roth/Holman Doubles event is the first in a series of tournaments that make up the PBA Fall Classic. Following doubles match play rounds Tuesday, competition continues with the PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open – a PBA Tour title event – Wednesday and Thursday; the South Point West Challenge (a regional event for non-title winners) on Friday; the new five-player PBA Team Challenge, Saturday and Sunday, and the PBA50 Western Open next Monday.

    All competition in the Fall Classic is being covered live, exclusively on PBA's online video-streaming service, Xtra Frame.


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    Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship - Final Qualifying Standings

    Doubles with position, hometown and 12-game total. a-denotes amateur; f-denotes female.

    1, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C./Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 3,810.
    2, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas/Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 3,784.
    3, Matt McNeil, Prior Lake, Minn./Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,756.
    4, Dom Barrett, England/Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3,722.
    5, Jason Belmonte, Australia/Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 3,719.
    6, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C./Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 3,715.
    7, A.J. Johnson, Oswego, Ill./Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3,701.
    8, Andrew Cain/Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 3,665.
    9, a-Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich./f-Liz, Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3,650.
    10, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio/Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 3,643.

    Missed Cut:
    11, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz./Andres Gomez, Colombia, 3,641.
    12, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla./E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,633.
    13, Scott Newell, Deland, Fla./Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga., 3,627.
    14, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla./Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,620.
    15, a-Oscar Rodriguez, Colombia/Chad Lusche, Parker, Colo., 3,615.
    16, a-Jimmy Cook, Indianapolis/Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 3,611.
    17, Aaron Lorincz, Saginaw, Mich./a-Steve Novak, Bay City, Mich., 3,601.
    18, Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla./Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, 3,598.
    19, Mike DeVaney, Winchester, Calif./Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,585.
    20, Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas/Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 3,580.
    21, David Haynes, Las Vegas/Eddie VanDaniker, Chatsworth, Calif., 3,564.
    22, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J./Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3,557.
    23, Jakob Butturff, Chandler, Ariz./a-Benjamin, Canfield, San Diego, 3,547.
    24, Robert Smith, Ventura, Calif./Sam Cooley, Australia, 3,537.
    25, Eric Cornog, Cherry Hill, N.J./Jason Cornog, Cherry Hill, N.J., 3,526.
    26, Adam Ishman, Las Vegas/Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I., 3,525.
    27, Brett Spangler, Niles, Ohio/Patrick Girard, Canada, 3,514.
    28, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif./f-Missy, Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 3,495.
    29, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich./Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 3,460.
    30, f-Liz Kuhlkin, Rotterdam, N.Y./Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 3,459.
    31, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla./Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 3,457.
    32, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore./Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 3,456.
    33, Mark Sullivan, Indianapolis/Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 3,450.
    34, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich./Ronnie Sparks, Ecorse, Mich., 3,432.
    35, Patrick Allen, Mount Kisco, N.Y./Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 3,422.
    36, Johnathan Bower/Darryl Bower, Middletown, Pa., 3,412.
    37, Manuel Otalora, Colombia/Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, 3,409.
    38, Lee Vanderhoef, Canton, Ga./Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 3,400.
    39, Paul Bajorski, West Babylon, N.Y./Gary Haines, West Babylon, N.Y., 3,392.
    40, Jaime Gonzalez/Jaime Monroy, Colombia, 3,387.
    41, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan./Kris Prather, Milton, Fla., 3,379.
    42, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill./Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 3,376.
    42, J.T. Jackson, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Andrew Graff, Las Vegas, 3,376.
    44, Gary Faulkner, Memphis, Tenn./Mike Williams, Montgomery, Ala., 3,373.
    45, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan./Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 3,355.
    46, a-Robert, Gotchall, Lincoln, Neb./Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3,329.
    47, Alex Cavagnaro, Massapequa, N.Y./Matt O'Grady, Matawan, N.J., 3,310.
    48, B.J. Moore, Apex, N.C./Randy Weiss, Columbia, S.C., 3,286.
    49, Martin Larsen, Sweden/Stuart Williams, England, 3,248.
    50, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill./John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 3,135.

    300 games - (1) Liz Johnson.