DECATUR — Ron Mohr did a small fist pump after a strike on the fifth frame of Tuesday’s PBA Senior Decatur Open finals at Spare Time Lanes.
That strike was just Mohr’s second of the championship match, as both he and Harry Sullins tried to figure out the best approach on a new pair of lanes that had been sitting unused for about four hours after being oiled. Mohr found his spot in the fifth frame.
The two-time Senior Player of the Year (2009, 2011) rolled strike after strike, with his fist pumps getting a little more animated each time. They culminated in a big fist pump and clearly audible “Yes!” in the ninth frame.
Mohr made it six strikes in a row to open the 10th frame and finished his game with eight more pins to beat Sullins 243-181 and win his first tournament of the year after putting together four wins and nine top-four finishes last year.
And while Mohr was rolling, Sullins was struggling after leading the tournament from the first day.
“Mathematically, as I’m watching his maximum score diminish, now my target is a little bit different,” Mohr said. “With each strike, it’s going to make it progressively more difficult for him to get the number I’m already at.
“When I got the fifth (strike) for 230, I knew I should be in good shape — 220 put me over the hurdle because he was going to have to strike out, and 230 locked it up.”
Sullins’ game fell apart in the fourth frame when he was left with a nasty 4-7-9 split after his first ball. He missed the 4-pin trying to pick up the spare, leaving the door wide open for Mohr.
“I tried to stay slow and then went too fast, and when you go fast you kind of yank,” Sullins said. “When I yanked it up it was just a hair high and not too often do you see a 4-9, or now a 4-7-9, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, you’re not supposed to leave that.’ ”
Mohr, of Eagle River, Alaska, took advantage of Sullins’ open frame. The first five strikes of his streak gave him the win. He went backdoor for strike No. 6, accidentally hitting the opposite pocket but still rattling the pins for a strike.
“Those are huge, especially if you’re opponent is struggling a little bit,” the 56-year-old Mohr said of his sixth strike. “If you get a break like that, it’s just like a dagger and then twisting it a little bit.”
Sullins, Chesterfield Township, Mich., said he had a different plan for Tuesday’s matches than he played Monday, and the one-and-done nature of the semifinals and championship match didn’t allow for much margin of error.
He beat Hall of Famer Wayne Webb in the semifinals even after leaving an open second frame when he hit a sticky spot on the approach and ended up almost two lanes away while trying not to fall. Eight consecutive strikes after that, though, had him in the finals.
That’s where Sullins said Mohr’s more inside track on the lane was a factor in the win.
“Those are the first shots I actually saw Ron throw in three days,” Sullins said. “He’s, out of the gate, playing inside, which I didn’t even think about at the time. Hindsight, it’s one game, I probably should have jumped in and played the hook line.”
Mohr said he played a couple boards tighter (inside) against Sullins than he did in his semifinal win against Mike Henry. He said playing inside of Sullins on the lane allowed him to be able to miss slightly left or right of Sullins’ line and still have a shot at a strike.
“I’ll try to watch where guys are playing,” Mohr said. “I’ll just get a board or two to the left of them because then where they’re playing gives me a little bit of room. I was fortunate to just kind of tweak it a little bit in practice and then just move in. (Sullins) was never able to find it.”
Mohr said his drop-off from his outstanding 2011 season to this year was part not playing as well and part adjusting to the new oil and oil patterns the tour used this season.
He had six new balls drilled midway through and said that, along with adjusting to the new patterns, helped him play better at the end of this season and in his Decatur Senior Open championship — a win he’ll have some time to relish.
“This is going to be about as vain as you can possibly imagine, but now this page stays up on the Internet, on PBA.com, for like two or three months,” Mohr said. “I can go to PBA.com and let it scroll through and can see, ‘Hey, I did win one.’ ”
Williams earns POY honors
Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Mike Edwards both entered Tuesday’s match play rounds with a shot to be named the PBA Senior Player of the Year. Edwards had to win to leapfrog Williams in the points standings, while Williams had to finish at least second if Edwards made a run.
But both players lost in the Round of 16, and Williams earned his first Senior Player of the Year title to go with his record seven from the PBA Tour.