© St. Petersburg Times, published December 16, 2002
Floridian wins third straight PBA title
Jason Couch won the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions a third straight time, defeating Ryan Shafer 266-224 Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.
Couch of Clermont earned his 10th career title (fourth major) and $100,000.
"I can't believe it," Couch said. "Year after year there are so many talented players in this field. Just to win once is an unbelievable feeling. To win it back to back was amazing, and now this. I just can't put it into words."
Couch, 33, joined Mike Durbin (1972, '82, '84) as the only bowler to win the title three times. He won in 1999 and 2000; the tournament was not held last season.
Couch, who also beat Shafer for the 2000 title (198-166), led by 21 pins after six frames.
Shafer missed a crucial 10-pin spare in the seventh frame and trailed by 43. Couch finished with four strikes and a spare to seal it.
"Jason deserved to win," said Shafer, who won $30,000. "He threw 10 perfect shots. Shooting 220 is usually a good game on that (oil pattern). But it wasn't good enough today. Jason just likes to throw the 260s at me."
BOXING: Evander Holyfield, 40, has run out of heavyweight titles to give away. He refuses to admit he also is running out of time. Chris Byrd won the IBF version of the heavyweight title Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J., exploiting the legs and reflexes of former four-time champion Holyfield. The win places Byrd on the second tier of heavyweights, beneath WBC champion Lennox Lewis. Holyfield has not given up his goal of again becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion. "I will be back," he said. Byrd hopes to fight the winner of the March 1 WBA title fight between John Ruiz and Roy Jones Jr. Lewis, meanwhile, likely faces Vitali Klitschko in April, despite saying he would wait until after the Ruiz-Jones fight to decide whom next to fight. Lewis later recanted, saying he planned to fight Klitschko.
TENNIS: Monica Seles showed no effects of the foot injury that hampered her last season, beating Anna Kournikova 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 Saturday night in the Minnesota Challenge exhibition at St. Paul. Seles, who finished the season ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour, had her return game working well and served three aces in the final game. Still searching for her first tour title, Kournikova, No. 35, will play in the Sydney International in January to tune up for the Australian Open.
SOCCER: For the third time this season UCLA defeated Stanford (18-5-2) 1-0. For the first, the Bruins (18-3-3) came away national champions. Defenseman Aaron Lopez scored in the 89th minute as UCLA won the NCAA College Cup in Dallas. Offensive MVP Lopez knocked in a free kick from midfielder Ryan Futagaki into the right corner of the goal.
SENIOR GAMES: St. Petersburg's Vanessa Hilliard set records in her 60-64 age group in the discus throw (27.8 meters) and shot put (10.3 meters) in Lakeland. Tampa's Michael Gorham won the men's discus, shot put and javelin throw in the 50-54 group.
AMERICA'S CUP: Alinghi of Switzerland beat San Francisco's Oracle by 48 seconds to sweep the semifinal series 4-0 and advance to the challenger series final in Auckland, New Zealand. Alinghi had to wait through three days of wind-related postponements before two-time Cup winner Russell Coutts guided the yacht to a win. Alinghi goes to the challenger final starting Jan. 11, and Oracle drops into a best-of-seven race repechage against the winner of the second semifinal between OneWorld and Prada. Seattle's OneWorld beat defending challenger champion Prada of Italy twice to move within one win of clinching the series. OneWorld won by .58 and 2:32.
RODEO: Texan Trevor Brazile won his first world all-around cowboy title, finishing the 10-round National Finals in Las Vegas with $273,997. Alberta's Glenn O'Neill won his first world title in saddle bronc riding. Oregon's Bobby Mote took the bareback round and season title. Utah's Blue Stone won his second straight bull riding world championship. In steer wrestling, Texan Sid Steiner won his first world championship. Texan Fred Whitfield notched his sixth world calf roping championship. Texans Speed Williams and Rich Skelton won a record sixth team roping title, topping the mark set by Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper. Texan Charmayne James won her 11th barrel racing championship, but first since 1995.
WINTER SPORTS: Defending World Cup champion Stephan Eberharter of Austria injured his knee when he crashed during a giant slalom in Val D'Isere, France, but doctors think he might be able to compete at the World Championships February 2-16. ... Germany's Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt won the 500 and 1,000 meters in a World Cup speed-skating meet in Beijing. American Chris Witty was second in the 1,000. ... Finland's Hannu Manninem won a World Cup Nordic combined in Harrachov, Czech Republic. ... Four-time Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway won a World Cup biathlon pursuit in Ostersund, Sweden. Germany's Katja Beer won the women's, her first World Cup victory. ... Germany's Sandra Prokoff won a World Cup bobsled in Lake Placid, N.Y. ... Austria's Martin Hoellwarth won in World Cup ski jumping in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany. ... Sweden's Anja Paerson won an experimental World Cup slalom, a three-run elimination. ... Austria's Markus Kleinheinz won his first World Cup luge race in Altenberg, Germany. ... Latvia's Sandis Prusis got his first World Cup victory in the four-man bobsled at Cortina D'Ampezzo. ... Norwegians Tore Arne Hetland and Bente Skari won sprint classic-style races at a World Cup meet in Cogne, Italy.
HORSES: Defending champion Starrer won by 5 lengths in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park, returning $4, $2.60 and $2.10. ... Grey Comet won the $82,625 Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct by 31/4 lengths, returning $9.30, $3.50 and $2.70. Trainer Richard Vega was suspended a month and fined $5,000 for a procedural violation of claiming rules. He waived his right of appeal, meaning the suspension will be cut to 15 days and end Dec. 29.
WATER POLO: Hungary beat the United States 8-7 to win the World Cup women's championship in Perth, Australia. Canada held off Russia 6-5 to win bronze.