|Dick Weber Playoffs Champion, Dick Allen (Photo courtesy PBA LLC)|
Dick Allen of Columbia, S.C., who called himself the "X factor" among the three finalists, swept favorite Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, in the "best-of-two-game" championship match to win the inaugural Dick Weber PBA Playoffs at Woodland Bowl.
The other finalist, Randy Weiss of Columbia, South Carolina was eliminated in the 'low score-out' round, prior to the title match. In the 3-man elimination round, Barnes rolled a 245, Allen had 209, and Weiss shot 200.
Borrowing a chapter from end-of-season championship playoff series in virtually every other sport, the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs provided a showdown for 108 top regional players who earned their way through competition points races within their respective regions, along with the top 72 players from the 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour points list.
Because the playoffs structure provided for up to three bye rounds for PBA Tour players based upon their points ranking, it was extremely important for every player to bowl at a high level during the season. The top six players on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour points list earned "byes" for the first three rounds. Players ranking seventh through 12th enjoyed two bye rounds. Those ranking 13th through 18th in points at the conclusion of the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship in Cheektowaga, N.Y., earned one bye round.
The Playoffs format included six unique "regional pods" for 18 top PBA Regional players based upon competition points as of Nov. 30, 2010. Players within the East, South, Central, Southwest, Midwest and combined West/Northwest Region pods remained in their respective pods throughout the event, heading into the television finals. Each pod also was assigned seeded PBA Tour players based upon their 2010-11 points rankings. Exempt Tour players who ranked between 19th and 72nd for the season were assigned to pods, regardless of the players' home regions, for the opening qualifying round.
Allen, who earned his third career PBA title and first in five years, threw the last five strikes in the first game in the championship round to overcome a 15-pin deficit and win, 237-218. He put together another string of five strikes in the second game to take advantage of back-to-back pocket 7-10 splits by Barnes to win the second game, 221-193.
Allen immediately turned over the $50,000 check to his wife Sarah, but held onto the crystal trophy. "The money comes and goes. I want the trophy and a banner in the bar at Woodland Bowl along with all of the great players who have won titles here," Allen said. "That means more to me than anything."
Allen said he came into the PBA Playoffs finals under the radar. "A lot of people were cheering for Randy (Weiss) to win his first title, and Barnes was the obvious favorite," Allen said. "So I was happy to be the X factor. I just kept my head down and tried to get one more pin than the other guys. That's all I did today."
Barnes threw strikes on six of his first seven shots in the first game against Allen, but Allen stayed close despite leaving the 10 pin on four of five shots in the middle of his game. When Barnes left the 4-6-7-10 split in the eighth frame, Allen capitalized with his closing string of strikes.
Allen was the victim of a pair of splits in the second game, helping Barnes take a 25-pin lead in the fifth frame, but the consecutive 7-10s "pretty much took the wind out of my sails," he said. "There were a few pocket 7-10s on the left lane earlier in the tournament, so the first one wasn't a huge surprise. But the second one was a stunner. I thought I threw the ball well."
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