|PBA Senior Player of the Year, Wayne Webb (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)|
Wayne Webb did it the hard way, but the veteran from Columbus, Ohio, overcame a nagging knee injury to not only win the final PBA Senior Tour event of the year—the Jackson (Mich.) Senior Open—on Aug. 25, but he joined fellow PBA Hall of Famer Mark Roth as only the second player ever to win PBA Senior and PBA Tour Player of the Year honors.
Needing to finish third or higher to lock up the 2010 PBA Senior Player of the Year points title in the event of a Walter Ray Williams Jr. victory, Webb qualified 25th for the single-elimination match play finals. He then became the first player in Senior Tour history to advance from 25th to victory in single-elimination competition, defeating Ray Johnson of Battle Creek, Mich., 211-194, in the title match. (Incidentally, Johnson was the No. 26 qualifier).
The title—Webb’s third of the year and fifth of his career—turned a close Senior Player of the Year race into a rout. Webb finished the season with 64 points. Walter Ray Williams Jr. was second with 36 and Mark Williams of Beaumont, Texas, was third with 32 points.
Webb, despite missing a pair of Senior Tour events, also won the earnings title with $41,900 and the competition points title. Williams Jr. was the average leader, bowling at a 225.49 pace.
Thanks to his victories in the Senior Columbus Open and the USBC Senior Masters earlier in the season, Webb also joined Dick Weber, Johnny Petraglia and Dave Soutar as the fourth player to win PBA titles in five different decades.
Nursing a knee injury suffered in the PBA Senior U.S. Open in June, Webb qualified 40th after the first round in Jackson and had to fight back to qualify 25th to make the cut for match play after the second round. He then won six matches Tuesday on his way to the victory.
“I thought about withdrawing after the second round but because Player of the Year was on the line I felt I should keep going,” said Webb, who also owns 20 PBA Tour titles. “The whole tournament was a roller coaster ride."
Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. had a shot at Senior Player of the Year with a win and a fourth-place finish or worse by Webb. Williams, who won a record seventh PBA Player of the Year title at the conclusion of the 2009-10 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season in April, was trying to become the first player to win both the Senior Tour and PBA Tour Player of the Year in the same season, but was eliminated in the best-of-five-game Round of 16 by Dale Traber of Cedarburg, Wis., 3-2.
Mark Williams of Beaumont, Texas, who also had a shot at Senior Player of the Year going into the final event with a victory, also lost in the Round of 16.
“It didn’t look like it was going to happen,” said the 53-year-old Webb, “The way he (Walter Ray) was bowling, I don’t know if I could have beat him."
“With my knee, I felt lucky to still be in the tournament. After awhile I was just running on adrenaline.”
Roth won PBA Player of the Year crowns in 1977, ’78, ’79 and ’84 and Senior Player of the Year in 2002.
“Mark was my idol growing up and I’m honored to be in his company,” said Webb, who is a bowling proprietor in Columbus, Ohio. “Winning Player of the Year 30 years apart is pretty cool—it’s something they can’t take away from you."
In the semifinals, Webb defeated Patrick King of Yankton, S.D., 236-198, and Johnson defeated Dale Csuhta of Wadsworth, Ohio, 232-226, to advance to the championship match. Webb earned $8,000 for the win and Johnson $4,500 for second.
Webb truly earned his Player of the Year crown, given the fact that he defeated both bowlers in title matches who were his closest competition in the year-long race.
Wayne was victorious over Mark Williams in the Senior Columbus Open early in the year, 264-253 for the tournament championship. Striking in the first four frames, Webb held a commanding lead in the fourth frame but let Williams back in the match after throwing a 3-6-7-10 split in the fifth frame which he failed to convert. Williams, of Beaumont, Texas, went on to throw eight consecutive strikes to finish the match but Webb was able to get back on track and finished with seven consecutive strikes to pull out the win.
The victory gave Webb his third career Senior Tour title to go along with his 2008 and 2009 Senior U.S. Open titles, and came after finishing second in the season-opening Senior Dayton Classic.
“I had him by 25 or 30 pins early in the match and I was disappointed that I gave him an opportunity to get back into it,” said Webb.
“Fortunately I was able to answer Mark’s strikes. If you give someone like Mark an opening like that, chances are it’s not going to turn out the way you want it to.”
And in the Senior Masters event in June, Webb won a 2-game final over Walter Ray Williams, 705-628.
Ironically, in careers where both Webb and Walter Ray Williams competed on Tour at the same time for approximately 20 years, their Senior Masters title match showdown marked the first time the two had ever met in a championship round.
“As it got down to the final matches, I was kidding Walter about how tired he must be after all those matches in the losers bracket,” Webb laughed. “I said I’d be happy to give him an early rest by handing him a loss in the first match of the final (which requires the losers bracket qualifier to win twice in the championship match for the title). Naturally, he said he would have no problem bowling two matches against me.
“If you lose early like (Walter Ray) did, it’s really an unbelievable effort in that double-elimination format to get to the championship match. I could only hope that he would run out of gas.”
While Webb was cruising along in the winners bracket, winning six matches to get to the championship match, Williams bowled non-stop for two days in the losers bracket after an opening-round loss to Hugh Miller, winning 10 consecutive three-game matches.
“The lanes were harder for me on the last day and for several matches I was struggling to shoot 200,” Webb said. “I could see Walter coming and I knew if I was going to bowl against him I was going to get run over if I didn’t turn it around.
“Even in the last game of the title match I was figuring if he threw 300 at me I would still have to shoot 191 to shut him out. He comes out with the first five strikes before he finally opens and I’m thinking come on, can’t you make it easy on me?”
Webb, a 20-time Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titlist, who moved to the Columbus, Ohio area in early April to open Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, had planned to end his season after the Senior Tour’s two majors in Las Vegas to concentrate on his center operations. But after a win in the Senior Columbus Open, a runner-up finish in the season-opening Senior Dayton Classic and a ninth-place finish in the Senior U.S. Open, he was a leading contender for Senior Player of the Year honors. As a result, he had to adjust his schedule to compete in the last three events of the season.
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