|Southside Winner, Walt Brooks|
The calendar year for the Pop Whitten Pro Tour came to an end on an uplifting note as Baltimore, Maryland's Walt Brooks added another notch to his championship belt with an exhilarating 199-160 victory over Smithsburg, Maryland's most formidable foe, Jimmy Burns, in the title game. The win culminated a superior weekend's performance for Brooks, who posted a sound 877 six-game block total in the preliminaries, and a lofty 795 score for his 5-game match play block, leading to the top seeding in the stepladder finals.
The ladder competition began with a promising matchup between the 4th seed, Baltimore's Tim Bosley, vs. the wildcard and multi-tour winner on the old Virginia tour, Michael Weaver.
As the action began, both competitors matched each other with strikes in the first frame, opens in the 2nd, and spares in the 3rd, thus leading to the contest being squared after 3 boxes. Weaver soon nosed out in front, and built a 16-pin advantage after 6 frames, which was a lead he'd never relinquish and at game's end, Michael closed out a 164-149 victory. In the 2nd game on the stepladder, Weaver would face an old nemesis from his Virginia tour days who was also a multi-tour winner in Dale Gustavson. Dale took the early lead after the first 3-frame block, but Mike hung tough and then pulled away, launching a barrage of marks including a 4-bagger in frames 6-9, resulting in a 178-115 win.
In achieving his wildcard position on the stepladder, Weaver was tested in the divisional round, as he gutted out a hard fought victory against the top seed Brooks. Mike weathered a damaging triple-header from Walt in the opening 3 frames of the contest, but staged a dramatic comeback to get into the stepladder finals.
After his match with Gustavson, Weaver's game was fine tuned and he was ready to move into the 2nd half of his stepladder march. If he could get by the next match, he'd be facing Walt Brooks again, this time for all the marbles. But the 2nd seed, Jimmy Burns would prove to be a huge obstacle in Mike Weaver's path.
Weaver started the game in impressive fashion with a strike and then converting the 2-3-6-10 split after ripping the middle in the 2nd. Burns opened the match breezing past a 10-pin single attempt in the first frame, but made amends by successfully converting another 10-pin in his half of the 2nd frame. Weaver faltered slightly in the 3rd and 4th, while Burns got sharper. After another single-pin conversion in the 3rd, Jimmy doubled in the 4th and 5th to open a 17-pin lead at the midway point. Mike roared back with two '20-boxes' in the 5th and 6th, while Jimmy remained steady, and soon the lead for Burns was down to 7 pins.
Business would pick up again for Burns in the latter stages as he posted another crucial double-header in the 8th and 9th boxes, and after the smoke cleared, Jimmy Burns triumphed in a 190-141 effort.
The championship was now set in a battle of the behemoths between Jimmy Burns and the top-seed Walt Brooks. Brooks opened the contest a little off-target, missing the headpin in the first two frames, but making good on his spare conversions, while Burns ripped the middle in the first frame, and converted the 3-4-6 split for a spare in the 2nd. After Walt got his 'sea legs', he then revved up his game a notch, putting together a devastating 6 frame block in which he converted single pins for spares in the 3rd and 4th, and then followed with a thunderous 4-bagger. A lesser opponent would have thrown in the towel, but Burns maintained his poise. Although he couldn't catch a much needed double-header, Burns tallied four straight '20-boxes' in frames 4-8, in which his spares in the 5th and 7th boxes were 7-pin single pins. After Walt opened the 9th frame, he still hadn't quite shaken Burns from his trail. Brooks had a score of 191 after 9 frames, but Burns still had a mathematical chance. With a score of 119 in Jimmy's 7th frame, he had to employ emergency measures, making his strike in the 8th box now his foundation frame. Jimmy still had a shot at 209, if he could strike out from the 9th frame on. While a tall order, all was not lost yet, as Burns had softened the pins up to where strikes were a distinct possibility. Jimmy went forward and once again planted a seemingly perfect ball in the pocket, but this time left a 5-pin. Burns converted the spare, but at this stage the match was over. Walt finished out by ripping the middle, leading to an 8-box and a 199-160 victory.
For Brooks, it was his 4th win on the PWPT to complement his recent surge on the DPBA tour, in which he claimed his 4th win back in October of 2010.
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