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Rookie Matt Sanders wins PBA XF Billy Hardwick Memorial Open


Matt Sanders, a 23-year-old rookie from Evansville, Ind., bowling in his third national tournament as a member, defeated Brian LeClair of Delmar, N.Y., 243-237, to win the Professional Bowlers Association’s Xtra Frame Billy Hardwick Memorial Open presented by Chris Hardwick at Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes.

Sanders (above center, with Rebecca Hardwick and tournament organizer Gary Beck), who had his best PBA finish a week ago when he lost to Craig Nidiffer of Trenton, Mich., 279-268, in the PBA Regional Greater Marion Central Open title match in Marion, Ohio. The former two-time All-American with Marion University-Indiana earned $10,000 – enough to finance his tour activities for the rest of the 2017 season – along with his first title.

“That was my first plastic ball tournament so, so far so good,” he said with a smile. “I had an okay day in qualifying, but I think I figured the lanes out going into today and today I got locked in.

“I was extremely nervous before we started the title match, but I told myself I’ve done this a few times before, so after we got started, there was no reason to be nervous. I wanted to win.”

The loss was another disappointment for LeClair (right), a 33-year PBA member who has not won a PBA Tour title in 434 events. The 52-year-old has won three times since joining the PBA50 Tour in 2015, but it hurt to have this one slip through his fingers.

“This may have been my last shot at a ‘junior tour’ title,” LeClair said. “Bowling on the senior tour is the same in a lot of ways as it was earlier in my career. My life is a lot more stable, which helps, but it would be nice to have that one missing title.”

Sanders earned his trip to the title match with a 253-223 victory over fellow rookie Francois Louw (left) of South Africa. In his previous three-game total pinfall matches, Sanders eliminated top qualifier Kris Prather of Plainfield, Ill., 707-679; rookie Zulmazran Zulkifli of Malaysia, 632-602, and Trevor Roberts of Crystal River, Fla., 683-675.

LeClair advanced to the title match with a 237-236 victory over Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, when Barnes’ rally ended with a 4 pin on his first shot in the 10th frame. In his two preliminary matches, LeClair defeated Cody Shoemaker of Hanover, Pa., 656-584, and amateur Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, Calif., 641-624.

Next up on PBA’s Xtra Frame live streaming service is a special pay-per-view ($2.99) King of Bowling challenge match Monday starting at 7:40 p.m. EDT when reigning KOB Wes Malott (left) of Pflugerville, Texas, will meet challenger Tommy Jones (below right) of Simpsonville, S.C., in a best-of-three-game match.

Following the King of Bowling match, Xtra Frame will provide live coverage of the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Oklahoma Open qualifying rounds Tuesday through Friday, leading up to ESPN’s coverage of the unique Oklahoma Open nine-player stepladder finals Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT both days. ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app will also provide simultaneous live streaming coverage.

The PBA Xtra Frame Tour’s next event will be the XF Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles from Copperfield Bowl in Houston, Texas, July 28-30, which will award PBA and PWBA Tour titles.

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2017 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions

PBA XF Billy Hardwick Memorial Open – Match Play Results

Single-elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall.

Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind. ($10,000) def. Brian LeClair, Delmar, N.Y. ($5,500), 243-237

Semifinal Round (losers earned $2,500):
Sanders def. Francois Louw, South Africa, 253-223
LeClair def. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 237-236

Round Three (qualifiers 1-4 vs. Round Two winners; three games total pinfall, losers earned $1,350):
Sanders def. Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 707-679
Barnes def. Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 662-657
LeClair def. Cody Shoemaker, Hanover, Pa., 656-584
Louw def. Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 629-525

Round Two (qualifiers 5-8 vs. Round One winners; three games total pinfall, losers earned $1,150):
Sanders def. Zulmazran Zulkifli, Malaysia, 632-602
Allen def. Kim Bolleby, Thailand, 714-675
LeClair def. n-Wesley Low Jr., Palmdale, Calif., 641-624
Louw def. Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 669-598

Round One: (qualifiers 9-16, three games total pinfall, losers earned $1,000):
Sanders def. Trevor Roberts, Crystal River, Fla., 683-675
Bolleby def. Sam Cooley, Australia, 716-680
Low def. Jeff Evans, Supply, N.C., 685-596
Couch def. Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 645-634

PBA XF Billy Hardwick Memorial Open – Cashers Round

Players with position, hometown and 12-game total. Top 16 advance to single-elimination match play. n-denotes non-member.

1, Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 2,754
2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 2,697
3, Cody Shoemaker, Hanover, Pa., 2,670
4, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 2,660
5, Francois Louw, South Africa, 2,654
6 (tie), Brian LeClair, Delmar, N.Y. and Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 2,652
8, Zulmazran Zulkifli, Malaysia, 2,648
9, Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 2,645
10, Sam Cooley, Australia, 2,643
11, n-Wesley Low Jr., Palmdale, Calif., 2,617
12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 2,581
13, Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 2,580
14, Jeff Evans, Supply, N.C., 2,561
15, Kim Bolleby, Thailand, 2,554
16, Trevor Roberts, Crystal River, Fla., 2,552

Missed Cut:
17, n-Mykel Holliman, Collierville, Tenn., 2,539, $650
18, Isaac Kim, Lebanon, Pa., 2,534, $650
19, AJ Chapman, Wichita, Kan., 2,522, $650
20, n-Tommy Berish III, Cordova, Tenn., 2,492, $625
21, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 2,478, $625
22, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 2,473, $625
23, Johnathan Bower, Middletown, Pa., 2,469, $600.
24, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 2,432, $600

Herbert Bickel

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