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Couch falls to 1st-time winner


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 20, 2003

Chris Hayden spoiled the homecoming party for Clermont's Jason Couch by winning the PBA VIA Open Sunday at Orlando's Boardwalk Bowl.

Hayden of Greenville, S.C., claimed his first title and became only the second player to go undefeated (12-0) in a single-elimination, match-play format. He defeated Couch 236-227 to earn $40,000.

"It's such an unbelievable feeling to win a title," said Hayden. "To beat a champion like Jason for my first title makes it that much better." In the semifinals, Hayden breezed past Paul Fleming of Bedford, Texas, 265-185. Couch, the wild-card qualifier, defeated top-seeded Bob Learn Jr. of Erie, Pa., 278-209, and then Tommy Delutz Jr. of Flushing N.Y., 223-209 in the semifinals.

Couch, a 10-time winner, received $20,000. He rolled a perfect game in the round of 32. Fleming and Delutz each earned $10,000 for finishing third, and Learn earned $9,000 for fifth.

Ricky Ward of North Fort Myers, Darin Hays of Tampa, and Clermont's Norm Duke and Doug Becker failed to make the second-round cut. Steve Hoskins, a 10-time winner from Tarpon Springs, defeated Dale Eagle of Tavares in the round of 32, then lost to Fleming in the round of 16.

Dennis Rakauskas of Apopka, Jason Hurd of Titusville and Andres Gomez of Orlando lost in the round of 32.

The tour is at Burlington, N.C., for the Tar Heel Open today through Sunday. ESPN will televise the finals live from 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday.

BARNES WINS: Chris Barnes ended a 35-tournament winless streak by capturing the PBA Days Inn Open on Feb. 9 at Dallas.

Barnes won his fourth title in his adopted hometown with a 244-194 victory over Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J. "It was great to win here, but I know I don't want to wait 18 months to win again," said Barnes, who earned $40,000.

Barnes defeated Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., 201-189 before topping Fleming 234-201. Bohn entered the finals undefeated and beat Hugh Miller of Seattle 191-166 in the semifinals.

"I tried everything out there and I never really found it," said Bohn, seeking his 30th win.

He received $20,000 as the runner-up while Fleming and Miller tied for third worth $10,000. Weber, in his second straight finals, earned $9,000 for fifth.

Roger Bowker of Ocala, Duke and Hurd missed the second-round cut. Ocala's Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Ward were eliminated in the round of 16.

PBA NOTES: Williams is $3,500 closer to passing Mike Aulby's single-season earnings record of $298,237. ... Bohn made his first ESPN appearance this year in the Days Inn Open. ... Delutz remains near the top of the PBA World Rankings behind Barnes, Williams and Duke, who all have at least one title. Delutz has not won, but has three thirds, five round of 16 finishes and seven round of 32 appearances. ... Players are battling for points to secure eight seeded positions in the PBA World Championship March 3-9, with Williams the leader. He also is the money leader with $296,100, followed by Barnes ($169,180) and Duke ($135,750).

UCF STRONG: The University of Central Florida women's squad finished fourth in the Brunswick Coca-Cola Classic Feb. 2 at Las Vegas and the men were fifth. Nebraska-Lincoln won the women's title, Wichita State captured the men's crown.

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