Tony Dolan has a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University at Buffalo.
Now he has his first George A. Obenauer Masters title to analyze as well.
The 38-year-old left-hander from West Seneca survived the most dramatic finish in the 52 years of the Masters, winning a one-ball rolloff, 9-7, over Pete Zmozynski of Depew in the Greater Buffalo USBC Association’s showpiece event on Sunday at AMF Lancaster Lanes.
Zmozynski came out of the losers bracket and handed Dolan his first match-play defeat, 617-547, in the first match of the championship finals. That forced another total-pinfall match to decide the title.
Dolan had a 19-pin lead heading into the last game and after a spare in the 10th needed just seven pins on his final ball to clinch the match. Incredibly, he got six, leaving the 4-6-9-10. That left the bowlers tied at 568 pins each. The rules called for a one-ball rolloff to decide the champion, and Dolan, as the higher seed, got to make the call on what lane would be used and the order of bowling.
Dolan chose to go first and on the right-hand lane, No. 14, where he had finished the regulation game.
“I liked the shot when I left the 6-count and I wanted to go first and let him feel the pressure,” Dolan explained.
He left the 6-pin on his ball. Zmozynski needed a strike to win it or nine to extend the shootout. Since he had more solid pocket hits throughout the match, he seemed in good shape. Incredibly, though, he left three pins, the 6-9-10, giving Dolan his first championship.
“I’ve made it to Saturday twice, but never to Sunday until this year,” said Dolan, still shaking his head at the sudden turn of events.
The championship capped a big year for Dolan, who runs a concrete products company in West Seneca. He bowled four 800 series during the winter season, including a personal-best 869 at the Broadway Sports Center.
Zmozynski opened the third game with four strikes in his first five frames, but Dolan, who had trouble striking the whole match, woke up and threw three in a row starting in the sixth frame. He grabbed the lead in the match with the second of the three and was in front by 13 after Zmozynski opened in the seventh.
Dolan, however, opened the door again with an open frame in the ninth and took only a four-pin lead for the match going into the final frame. That set up the crazy finish.
“Everything was late,” Dolan said of his inability to consistently find the pocket.
Zmozynski, meanwhile, had solid pocket hits most of the match. He totaled 32 strikes in the six games against Dolan while his opponent had only 12.
Zmozynski was 39 pins behind late in the second game of the final, but closed with four strikes to draw within range. However, slow starts in the first two games of the final match eventually led to his undoing.
“I think I was a little too fast, too amped up,” said the 36-year-old Zmozynski, a corrections officer. He had three opens to start the first game of the finals and two more to start the second.
Given the choice, Zmozynski said he would have liked to take his last shot on the left-hand lane, where he felt he had more room, but said he wasn’t upset by the situation.
Dolan defeated Frank Bellavia Jr., 608-539, in the final of the winners bracket while Zmozynski was winning over former champion Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, 636-619. Zmozynski then eliminated Bellavia, 575-542, to gain a place in the finals.
Dolan collected $1,750 for his victory and Zmozynski earned $1,000 for his best finish ever in the Obenauer. He was fourth in 2014. In addition to the winner’s check, Dolan won a paid entry to the next USBC Masters plus expenses, making the total package worth $3,000.