Mike Edwards never has won a Denny's PBA Tour event on American soil. Just get him near the Canadian border, though, and watch out.
The Native American from Tulsa, Okla., joined three other survivors of Friday night's match play in the GEICO Classic at AMF Thruway Lanes.
Edwards will face veteran Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., in one of the semifinals on Sunday's television show (ESPN, 12:30 p.m.). Parker Bohn III and Doug Kent of Newark, N.Y., who are brothers-in-law (married to sisters), are the other finalists.
Edwards, 44, breezed through three rounds of match play with a 12-2 record and averaged 240.9 for the tournament to earn his shot at his first tour title since he won in Markham, Ont., way back in 1994.
"I've always bowled well in this house. I love bowling up in this area," Edwards said. "The crowds are great and the fans understand what the sport's about.
"This week everything [equipment and lane conditions] just matched up for me, and, obviously, the carry was there, too."
Duke disposed of Mike Scroggins (4-2) and Mike DeVaney (4-1) before he finally put down Tim Criss of Bel Air, Md., in seven games. That was the longest of the four matches in Friday night's round of eight. Duke started the finale with four strikes and went on to a 235-231 win.
Kent, who owns a bowling establishment in Newark where he will host a tournament Sunday, knocked out the No. 1 qualifier, 2005 Player of the Year Patrick Allen of Tarrytown, 4-1, and also posted wins over Dennis Horan Jr. (4-3) and Eugene McCune (4-2).
Bohn went 12-3 in match play as he defeated Tommy Delutz Jr. (4-1) and David Traber (4-2) before sweeping Wes Malott.
The Jackson, N.J., bowler credited a ball change with getting him through his last two matches.
"It propelled me to the top, and here I am now," he said.
Amateur Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and tour veteran Jack Jurek of Lackawanna were the last Buffalo entrants eliminated. Both lost leads in their best-of-seven matches in Friday afternoon's round of 16 and fell by 4-3 counts.
Ciminelli built a 3-1 lead but couldn't hold off Criss despite bowling 225, 245 and 254 his last three games. Criss responded with games of 266-279-259.
Malott, a 6-foot-4, 270-pounder from Austin, Texas, simply took charge of the seventh game against Jurek, winning, 259-228. The powerful Texan struck in the third through eighth frames to take a commanding lead. Jurek, who had led, 2-0 and 3-2, had a clean game but couldn't string any strikes until his last five. By then, it was too late.
Tom Baker of Buffalo had to bowl a 279 in his morning match against McCune to avoid being swept. McCune was simply overpowering, winning with games of 269, 234, 237 and 277. Baker averaged 230 in the loss.
Southpaw Allen eliminated Brad Angelo in five games after the Lockport bowler had won the first game, 231-226.
The lanes favored left-handers all Thursday, so Angelo knew he was in for a difficult time.
"Either he would have to get some bad breaks or I had to flat-out outbowl him, which is not easy to do," Angelo said. "Patrick is not only the best left-hander on the tour, there's a lot of discussion about him being one of the best players out there."
Ciminelli not only got into the tournament via the Tour Qualifier on Wednesday but topped the entire Qualifier field, pro and amateur. He drew a large number of fans for his matches Friday -- many of them his fellow Erie Community College students and former Cheektowaga and ECC teammates.
The left-hander came through in the clutch, doubling in the 10th frame to win the seventh game of his morning match against Dale Traber. He won the deciding game, 237-229. His victories included a 279 game. However, Criss proved even tougher in the round of 16.
Disappointed or proud of his achievement?
"A little of both. Actually, a lot of both," Ciminelli said. "I exceeded a lot of my expectations. [Criss] just bowled great the last three games. I bowled close to 250 and lost all three games. He made a ball change in the 10th frame of the fourth game, and it turned out to be perfect. It opened up the whole right side for him.
"Still, I'm proud of what I accomplished, and I don't normally say that about myself."