|Mike Fagan (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)|
By Lucas Wiseman
Mike Fagan of Dallas won his first career major title on Sunday, January 29, defeating Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 246-213, to win the 2012 Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels United States Bowling Congress Masters.
A three-time winner on the PBA tour, Fagan completed a 30-pin comeback to pull off the upset over the top-seeded Barnes at Sunset Station's Strike Zone Bowling Center.
"All week long I really wasn't thinking about majors, matches or what my opponents were doing. I just wanted to do what I do to the best of my ability," said Fagan, who earned $50,000 for the victory. "Now the fact that it has paid off feels amazing. Sometimes you can bowl your best and not come out on top. I know how few and far between these opportunities can be, so for me to take advantage of it is amazing."
Fagan failed to strike in the first four frames of the championship match, while Barnes started with four out of five strikes to open the contest. Fagan then rattled off a back-breaking 7-bagger to take control.
"I really didn't like any of the first couple shots off my hand because they were a little fast or a little bit too aggressive," Fagan said. "The next few shots I really just wanted to get my body position right and let the swing follow and the pins cooperated—thankfully."
"This one hurts; it was a difficult day," said Barnes, who has now lost the Masters as the top seed three times. "I was more nervous today for the final than I have been in a long time. There were a lot of legacy things on the line, and I'm not confident I will get another chance to win this tournament because it's so hard to get through all the matches." Fagan advanced to the championship match by defeating 2003 Masters champion Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., 228-180. Smith never led in the match and failed to double, allowing Fagan to pull away with a four-bagger down the stretch.
In the stepladder opener, Smith had a come-from-behind victory against Canada's Dan MacLelland, 251-212. MacLelland began the match by striking on five of his first six shots and grabbing a 24-pin lead, but an open in the seventh frame allowed Smith to pull ahead and take the win. The nation’s top youth bowlers will have the opportunity to compete on Professional Bowlers Association lane conditions and rub elbows with the greats in the game when Teen Masters qualifiers will be conducted in conjunction with selected PBA Regional tournaments in 2012.
The PBA has entered into an agreement with Killer ‘B’ Promotions to hold 18 Teen Masters qualifiers at PBA Regional events beginning in March through the end of May. The Teen Masters qualifiers will be hosted on lanes designated for Teen Masters competition.
The Teen Masters has featured challenging lane conditions since its beginning in 1997. “Our slogan has always been ‘Bring Your Spare Game!’ Our partnership with the PBA strengthens the opportunity for America’s top high school competitors to test their bowling skills and mental fortitude in a demanding environment,” said Teen Masters founder, Gary Beck.
Many Teen Masters champions have gone on to advance to the top levels of the sport. On the boys side, Mike Fagan, the 1997 champion, and Ryan Ciminelli, the 2004 champion, have both become national PBA champions. On the girls side, Brittni Hamilton, the 2006 champion, and Danielle McEwan, the 2009 champion, have both claimed NCAA titles and membership on Team USA.
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