PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., the top seed in the tournament, defeated second-seeded Hugh Miller in the championship match by a score of 248-231 to win the tournament and claim the $8,100 top prize.
“I was able to win today because I hung in there and played my game,” Williams said. “I got behind in some matches early on, but I was able to pull it out in the end.”
Williams lost only one game in the tournament, dropping his opening effort against amateur Dick Baker before reeling off seven straight victories en route to capturing the title. After bowling 194 in the opener, Williams decided to change balls, a decision that proved to be a difference maker.
The victory earned Williams his second title of the season and cemented his position as the favorite to win the PBA Senior Player of the Year award.
“It feels good to be in this position right now,” Williams said. “I’ve been Player of the Year on the regular tour, and I had a chance to win Senior Player of the Year last year, so it’d be nice to add that to all my accolades.”
Williams finished second in points in last year’s running for Senior Player of the Year. He has been named Player of the Year seven times on the national tour, and still competes on that tour while also playing in the senior tour, which is open to bowlers 50 and older.
The Northern California Classic victory, which netted Williams 16 points toward Player of the Year honors, broke a three-way tie in the standings between him, Mike Edwards and Amleto Monacelli. Williams has accumulated 48 points; Edwards and Monacelli both sit at 32. Two tournaments remain to be played in the season.
Williams now has four Senior Tour titles to his credit to augment his record 47 standard PBA Tour titles. He finished seventh and 17th in his two previous appearances at the Northern California Classic.
This is Miller’s second consecutive second-place finish at the Northern California Classic. He failed in his bid to become the seventh different winner of the season, but pocketed $4,600 for reaching the finals.
Miller currently sits at fourth on the POY points list – and has a mathematical chance to win the award – but would need to win the two final events and hope Williams does no better than fourth in either tournament.
Williams, who now resides in Florida but was raised in California, was thrilled to return to his home state and win a title. “I grew up all over California, really, with a lot of time nearby in Stockton,” Williams said. “I have family in Sacramento. “It’s great to be able to come back here and get a victory.”
In the semifinals, Williams defeated Mike Dias 259-228 and Miller defeated Hall of Famer Wayne Webb 216-205 to advance to the title match.
Four East County senior bowlers made it through the qualifying rounds for this event, but did not make it to the final day. Dan Roberts of Brentwood finished 62nd, Marc Clyburn and Al Bella of Pittsburg finished 64th and 70th, Duane Wilson of Brentwood placed 83rd and Rob Rhiner of Discovery Bay placed 84th.