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Couch's win is like old times at Weber Open

January 22, 2007|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

Everything else had gone retro at the Dick Weber Open.

Why not the winner?

Top-seeded and defending champion Jason Couch won the Professional Bowlers Assn. Tour event again, claiming the $25,000 winner's share of a $147,850 purse with a 258-236 victory over second-seeded Patrick Allen in the championship match Sunday at Fountain Valley Bowl.

"I'm comfortable here. It feels a lot like home," Couch said. "It's just a pleasant atmosphere, you know?"

A throwback to the heyday of the tournament's legendary namesake, who died at 75 in 2005, the PBA Tour's only Southern California event is played under an old-style, stepladder format rather than with single-elimination brackets or round-robin groups.

Games also take place on lanes specially conditioned with an old-time oil-strip pattern prevalent when Weber won PBA titles in six different decades but no longer used in most present-day events.

But for Couch, the nostalgia has yet to get old. And winning never does.

"It makes it a special event. How can I not like it?" he said. "I feel like it's my favorite pattern the last two years, for sure."

The title is the left-handed Couch's first since last year's Dick Weber Open, and the 14th of the 37-year-old Clermont, Fla., native's career.

"I would have to say that it was probably my most consistent tournament of the year," he said. "Overall, it was just one of those weeks where I put everything together."

The victory was the first for a top-seeded player after nine consecutive events since February 2005 in which the leader going into the last round was upended. Chris Barnes was the last No. 1 player to win out, at the 2005 U.S. Open.

"I knew I had to get out early today to have any chance of getting that monkey off my back," Couch said.

He led the 153-player field after three rounds of qualifying and was still on top after each of three five-game rounds of match play going into televised finals that included Walter Ray Williams Jr., Parker Bohn III and Andrew Cain.

He used nine strikes, including four consecutive to open the final and four more in a row over the final three frames to beat Allen, a 36-year-old left-hander from Tarrytown, N.Y., who edged out the fifth-seeded Williams, 249-245, in the second-to-last match.

"Jason bowled better than everybody the whole week, so he deserves to win," Allen said. "You always want to win a title, but I don't have a problem losing to the guy that probably should have won the tournament."

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lauren.peterson@latimes.com

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