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EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., threw critical back-to-back strikes in the 10th frame to overcome back-to-back open frames early in the title match to defeat Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, 212-199, and win the PBA Bear Open, the second event of the PBA Fall Swing at Thunderbowl Lanes.
The tournament finals aired Wednesday on CBS Sports Network.
Tackett, the 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year, prevented the 21-year-old Swedish left-handed two-hander from winning his fourth title of the year, instead claiming his third career PBA Tour title. In winning his second title of the year, Tackett joined Svensson and Texas teenager Anthony Simonsen, a two-time title winner, as the only three players to win more than once on the PBA Tour in 2016.
Tackett, who qualified second for the stepladder final, recovered in the match after leaving a 4-6 split in the second frame and 7-10 split in the third frame. Svensson held a four-pin lead in the ninth frame with both bowlers working on a strike.
“I didn’t panic but it was do or die at that point,” Tackett said after the two splits. “I had to do something so I went with a small adjustment with my hand position and fortunately it worked.”
When Svensson bowled a nine count on his first shot in the 10th frame, Tackett extended his string of strikes with a double in the 10th to take take the win.
“I knew sitting there I had a good chance because after the fourth frame I made the adjustment I needed to make to get to the pocket,” Tackett said. “It was just a matter of did I have enough time to catch him.
“I’ve been in that position before where you needed a strike to win the match, and those always seem to be more satisfying when you win that way,” he continued.
It was Tackett’s first win on national television. He won his previous titles in the PBA Xtra Frame Storm Open earlier this season and the 2015 Lubbock Sports Open. Both events were streamed live on PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame.
Svensson, a leading contender for PBA Player of the Year honors after winning the PBA Rookie of the Year in 2015, is the first player to win five PBA Tour titles by age 21. Earlier in the year, he became the youngest player ever to win the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions followed by wins in the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Munich, Germany and the WBT Thailand in Bangkok. He won his first two titles in 2015.
The stepladder final began with No. 4 qualifier John Szczerbinski of N. Tonawanda, N.Y., defeating No. 5 qualifier and one-time Tour winner Jon Van Hees of Charlestown, R.I., 207-183. In match two, Szczerbinski defeated two-time Tour winner Josh Blanchard of Mesa, Ariz., 232-184, to advance to the semifinal match against Tackett. Tackett then ended Szczerbinski’s bid for his first title in the semifinal match, 193-183.
Fall Swing telecasts on CBSSN continue with the Badger Open on Oct. 5, followed by the Detroit Open on Oct. 12 and the King of the Swing special event on Oct. 19. All shows air at 9 p.m. ET. With his victory, Tackett joined Wolf Open titlist Tom Daugherty as the first two players to earn berths in the King of the Swing telecast, which will feature the four PBA Fall Swing title winners plus the player who finishes highest in overall points without winning a title.