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PBA Xtra

that has been down for the last twenty years. So I practice on an older surface all the time. The regional I won a couple weeks ago also was on HPL. I guess it’s just that my ball matches up with older surfaces, because that’s what I practice on.” Shawn Maldonado, too, seemed

to benefit from that HPL, a synthetic surface softer than Pro-Anvilane and therefore more given to friction. The two-hander fell behind Mitch Beasley, who won the tournament last year, by nearly 50 pins before stringing seven strikes to roar back and win, 222-200. O’Neill then outlasted Maldonado, 267-235, to advance to the title match. Gomez determined last December

that no particular lane surface would be enough to rescue his game. For him, only work would do. Hard work. “I saw that I wasn’t bowling as well in 2014 as I did in 2011, 2012, and 2013, so I started looking at myself. I am my own coach. I went back to video, started looking at those TV shows, and saw differences in my technique,” Gomez explains. Gomez noticed his posture had

become too steep a couple steps before he arrived at the foul line, a body position that prevented him from getting the kind of hand position he once enjoyed at the release. “So, I wasn’t comfortable,” Gomez adds. “I thought I was, but I just wasn’t



as soft [at the release], and I wasn’t able to go around the ball like I used to.” Gomez went to work on the

problem for a couple months. He made the cut at the Masters, but finished 52nd. Weeks later, however, he finished seventh at the H.H. Emir Cup in Qatar, a PBA Tour title event — ahead of the likes of Jason Belmonte, Sean Rash, Bill O’Neill, and Mika Koivuniemi. “I felt my game coming back to me,”

Gomez says. He felt his game return to him fully

in Pensacola, where he entered the stepladder finals as the top seed with a 9-3 match play record. Until, that is, a 2-10 split in the 8th frame of the title match against Tom Daugherty, and his failure to convert the spare. Just the sort of moment when it

helps to forget. “I knew I opened the door a bit for

PRODIGY:Tackett’s woes on tele- vision belie a talent that gained national attention well before he went pro. In 2011, he made the cut at the U.S. Open as an ama- teur. That same year, he shot 300 at the Team USA Trials. Watch him blow the rack on the final three strikes of that game here.

Tom, but I had a good ball reaction and left the split because I threw it bad,” Gomez says. “It wasn’t like I had thrown it good and the ball didn’t come back. I missed it at the bottom a bit, and thought about just making two really good shots and closing the door.” Which he did. Gomez doubled to lock up the title in a grind-out, 211-192. “Had I thrown that ball good and

split, I probably would have made an adjustment, and then anything can happen,” Gomez says. “On tour, we like to say that when you go 2-10, never,


ever move right. Make a different adjustment. Maybe slow down, hit it more, throw it softer. We all have different tricks.” The trick that works best for Gomez

and Tackett these days has nothing to do with hand position or ball speed. It has to do with the ability to leave in the past the things that need to stay there. “I’m glad I was able to put it behind

me,” Gomez says of that 8th frame. Daugherty advanced to the title

match on a 237-212 win over 18-year- old Anthony Simonsen, the 2014 PBA Southwest Region Rookie of the Year. In the opening match, he downed Tommy Jones, 247-233. Daugherty is fast becoming pro

bowling’s most fed-up runner-up. The 2013 Scorpion Championship winner finished second in three consecutive regionals over a span of seven days in Hawaii this past spring, losing the Kona Open title to Josh Blanchard on April 27, then losing both the Hawaii Open and the Hickam Air Force Base Open titles to Scott Norton on April 29 and May 3, respectively. His latest runner-up finish in

Pensacola prompted him to post on Facebook, “This 2nd place stuff is getting old real quick.” Count Daugherty as another PBA

player for whom the art of forgetting could go a long way.

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