Winning the Etonic Championship on Sunday is going to cost Mike Wolfe -- one puppy.
The 31-year-old from New Albany, Ind., defeated Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., 256-225, in the final match to win the Denny's PBA Tour event at AMF Thruway Lanes. It was his third Tour championship and first since he won the Empire State Classic in Clifton Park in 2005.
The victory was worth $25,000 for Wolfe but deduct a small chunk of that.
"I promised my fiancee that I would buy her a puppy if I won," said Wolfe, who didn't know the name of the breed. "One of those little yappy dogs."
Speaking of canines, there wasn't a dog among the four matches Sunday. All were tense and each had a dramatic turning point.
In the PBA Women's Series final, Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix defeated Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colo., 227-217, and captured the $10,000 prize. Johnson needed to double in the ninth frame to even the match, but left an 8-pin on a solid pocket hit and lost in a battle of left-handers.
Wolfe struck in six of the last seven frames to outlast Williams, who was looking for a record 44th Tour victory. The television appearance was Williams' 160th, also a record.
Their match was virtually even until Wolfe tripled in the sixth frame and Williams left a 10-pin. It was a 21-pin swing and when Williams left an 8-pin and a 4-pin in the next two frames the match was almost history.
"It's part of the game," said Williams of his tough luck on what looked like solid pocket hits.
Wolfe wasn't going to waste his opportunity.
"You don't get him in that situation very often," he said.
Wolfe considered himself a lucky man before the finale. Friday night, he trailed Chris Loschetter, 3-0, before pulling the match out, closing with a 300.
"He had his foot on my throat," Wolfe said.
Then Sunday, in his semifinal against Chris Barnes, Wolfe trailed nearly all the way -- as many as 31 pins at one point -- before putting together five strikes in frames five through nine. Wolfe had finished his 236 game and all Barnes needed was an eight count on his ninth-frame spare and then a spare and at least a nine on his final ball to force a roll-off or a final strike to win.
Barnes left the the 2-4-5, leaving him a pin short in a 236-235 loss that cost him at least $7,000 and possibly $19,000. That was the difference between third and fourth place money ($6,000) and second ($13,000) or first-place money.
Wolfe had opened his match against Barnes with a 7-10 split but rallied.
"Not the best way to start a television match," he joked later.
Williams took advantage of two open frames by Mike DeVaney of Temecula, Calif., to win his semifinal, 247-226. DeVaney missed a 4-pin in the fourth frame after opening with three strikes and chopped two pins off the 3-6-9-10 in the seventh frame. He had nine strikes in his loss, the same as Williams.
Pluhowsky, 25, kept her usual nerves under control in her victory over USBC and PWBA Hall of Famer Johnson, 45.
"This [bowling professionally] is something I've always wanted to do," said Pluhowsky, who was a collegiate and amateur star. "And to win, that's great."