By KEITH McMILLAN
MANASSAS – George Pappas, a Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer who won his first tournament in 1970, had been bowling well the past few years, but had only a streak of second-place finishes and a handful of thirds and fourths to show for it.
On Wednesday evening, Pappas made his strong play count, winning his first senior tour title since 1997 at the PBA Senior Manassas Open at Bowl America Manassas.
Pappas, a 57-year-old Charlotte, N.C. native, defeated Tim Kauble 257-213 and 214-187 in the finals of the match-play tournament.
”[I’ve bowled this well] quite often in the last two years,” Pappas said. ”I always ran into a buzz saw. Something would happen. If I shot 190, I got beat. If I shot 250, I got beat.”
Wednesday, he doled out the beatings, going 12-3 head-to-head, with two of the losses coming in the round of 8 against Chuck Pierce. He bowled seven straight strikes in the first game of the final match, and bowled six more in the nip-and-tuck second game.
After the victory, Pappas met a stream of autograph-seekers and well-wishers. Between being as close to home as the senior tour gets and breaking his streak of near-misses, Pappas wore a big smile after accepting the winner’s $8,000 prize.
”If I could pick any city to win it, in the Washington-Baltimore area, this would be the place,” Pappas said. ”Every time I come to this city I have had people support me, cheer for me [and] encourage me.”
The cheers were loudest after Pappas pulled away from Kauble in the final game, one which just four pins separated the two after five frames.
Kauble, an animated competitor who joined the PBA only eight years ago, said Pappas figured out the way the lanes played more quickly than he did. Both finalists felt that the lanes played differently at each end of 44-lane Bowl America Manassas, which has wooden lanes as opposed to a newer synthetic surface.
The tournament, which began on Sunday, had its semifinals bowled on lanes 15, 16, 19 and 20. The finals were bowled on lanes 17 and 18, near the middle of the center.
”The middle lanes were tough all week,” said the 56-year-old Kauble, on vacation from his job with the city of Marion, Ohio. ”George really had them figured out.”
Pappas and Kauble each reached the final by compiling one of the 32 the best 16-game scores among the 138 tournament entries. The 32 bowlers who made the cut were seeded for match play Wednesday morning, and they bowled head-to-head best of five to move on.
In the round of four, the matches were best-of-three. Pappas, who averaged a 212 over 32 tournament games, advanced to the final by beating Roy Buckley of New Albany, Ohio, in two games, 226-207 and 254-206. He had three streaks of four strikes in the match, including two in his 254 game.
Kauble knocked off defending champion Don Sylvia in the round of 16, then advanced to the final by beating Tim Staikoff of Black Hawk, S.D. two games to one in a fairly dramatic semifinal, 176-198, 218-188 and 208-180.
Scott Leonard of Herndon and Vincent Mullally of Sterling were the only Northern Virginia bowlers to make the cut. Manassas’ Larry Wallace finished 57th overall, Stafford’s Greg Wilhelm 69th and Stafford’s Pete Gunn tied for 81st.
This was the second cosecutive year that Bowl America Manassas has been a stop on the Senior PBA Tour.