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Spare gives 49-year-old his first major PBA title

Published April 8, 2004

Tom Baker converted a seven-pin spare to defeat Mika Koivuniemi 246-239 and win the PBA World Championship in Ypsilanti, Mich., on March 21.

It was Baker's first major title and 10th overall. He earned $120,000 and a record five-year tour exemption.

"It's a story I can't believe," said Baker, 49, the oldest player to win a major title. "This means so much to me from where I was. This week is by far the highlight of my career, and I just couldn't believe it."

Koivuniemi defeated Wes Malott 225-193 and Baker defeated Brad Angelo 277-243 in the semifinals.

Koivuniemi won $50,000, and Angelo and Malott won $20,000. The $438,000 purse tied a record set in the 2003 World Championship.

Koivuniemi defeated Clermont's Norm Duke 3-0 and Malott ousted Ocala's Walter Ray Williams Jr. 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Missing the cut were Steve Wilson of Lake Worth; Ricky Ward of North Fort Myers, Steve Hoskins of Palm Harbor, Randy Pedersen of Fort Lauderdale and Christopher Loschetter of West Melbourne.

The championship concluded the 2003-04 PBA tour season.

GLASS SCORES: Robert Glass defeated Don Sylvia 258-235 in the final game of the best-of-three title round to win the PBA Senior Epicenter Classic in Klamath Falls, Ore., on March 31.

Glass, the 2000-01 senior player of the year, converted a 3-10 split in the 10th frame of the first game to win 211-207.

Sylvia evened the match after Glass left five consecutive 10 pins down the stretch.

In the third game, the players were even entering the final frame. After Sylvia threw a spare, Glass struck out to win it.

The title was Glass's seventh on the senior tour and first since the 2001 PBA Senior Hammond Open. Glass earned $8,000 and Sylvia $4,000.

In the senior tour, the field is reduced to the top 16 after two rounds of qualifying. Match play, single-elimination best-of-five matches are used for the rounds of 16 and eight.

The semifinals and finals are best-of-three.

Failing to make the cut were Dale Eagle of Tavares; Dave Soutar of Bradenton; Pete Couture of Cocoa; Ken Waters of Homosassa and Patsy DellaPenna of Palm Harbor.

The seniors wrap up the ABC Senior Masters at Las Vegas on Friday then move on to the Clarksville, Tenn., Open on April 24-27. There is no television.

The tour has added the Senior Jackson Open in Jackson, Mich., Aug. 14-18, making nine stops for the seniors this season.

PBA NOTES: Team Geico, with Baker, Koivuniemi and Steve Jaros, won the team title and $60,000. ... The World Championship featured 15-year-old Jack Perry, the youngest to ever bowl in an event, and 17-time winner and PBA Hall of Famer Carmen Salvino, 70, the oldest player in the event. ... Top contenders for bowler of the year include Patrick Healey Jr., Robert Smith, Jaros and Koivuniemi. ... Koivuniemi heads the tour money winners with $238,590 followed by Williams at $233,950 and Pete Weber at $206,217. ... The PBA trials are June 1-6 in Merrillville, Ill. The top eight from the five-day competition will be awarded the final exemptions for next season's 64-man tour. ... It was a sprint to the finish to claim one of 50 exemptions (without having to go to the trials), and Richard Wolfe was a big winner. Wolfe, of Vienna, Va., started the World Championship 68th in points. He lost to Koivuniemi in the round of 16 but earned enough points to move into 49th.

[Last modified April 8, 2004, 01:35:43]


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