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Oregon bowler ends nine-year winless skid

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 23, 2003

Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., ended a nine-year drought by winning the 53rd American Bowling Congress Masters on Sunday at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.

Smith won $100,000 by defeating PBA Hall of Fame bowler and five-time player of the year Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, 236-220.

"I was beginning to doubt if I belonged out here," Smith said. "This couldn't have come at a better time because I was thinking about giving myself another year and then maybe doing something else."

Williams earned $50,000 in his seventh television appearance in 15 tournaments.

In the opening stepladder match, Williams defeated 1993 ABC Masters champion and ABC Hall of Fame bowler Norm Duke of Clermont, 264-234. Duke earned $15,000 for fourth. Williams defeated Jason Williams of Vashon Island, Wash., in the semifinals, 225-178. Jason Williams earned $25,000 for third.

Steve Hoskins, a 10-time winner from Tarpon Springs, stopped Bob Hale of Louisville, Ky., in the first round, then fell to Jason Williams. Titusville's Jason Hurd lost in the first match-play round, and Clermont's Jason Couch lost in the second round of match play.

Others who did not qualify or lost in match play were Largo's Alan Rushton, Seminole's Keith Hedlund, St. Petersburg's Russell Stratton, Palmetto's Kent Wagner and Dunedin's Bob Belmont.

The Masters paid a record $386,000 and drew 537 bowlers. It featured qualifying and double-elimination match play.

The tour is in Las Vegas for the Storm Las Vegas Classic with the finals tonight. They will be taped and aired from 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.

PERFECT TELEVISION: Duke had the 15th televised perfect game in PBA Tour history but did not win the Geico Earl Anthony Classic on Jan. 5 at Tacoma, Wash.

Duke defeated Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the semifinals 300-213 for the first televised perfect game in more than three years.

"That's been a goal of mine for 21 years," Duke said. But Mike DeVaney of Escondido, Calif., defeated Duke 279-248 in the final for his first career title and $40,000.

DeVaney jumped ahead early with the first eight strikes. Duke threw six strikes but couldn't keep up with DeVaney. Duke earned $30,000 for finishing second and another $10,000 for his perfect game.

In the semifinals, DeVaney knocked off five-time champion Bob Learn Jr. of Erie, Pa., 258-211. Learn finished tied with Williams for third, each winning $10,000.

In the opening match, Williams beat first-time finalist Mike Wolfe of New Albany, Ind., 236-167, who earned $9,000. Williams lost to DeVaney in the round of eight but advanced to the finals as the wild-card qualifier. SENIOR SCHEDULE: The PBA Senior tour's nine tournaments will have two majors.

The season begins May 3-6 in Chillicothe, Ohio. The first major, the ABC Senior Masters, will be May 25-30 at Tucson, Ariz. The PBA Senior Storm U.S. Open, the other major, is May 31-June 6.

"It's possible we could add one or two more events before the start of the season," said Mark Bisbing, vice president of tour operations. No events will be televised.

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