Faced with an opponent who left hardly any openings, Jack Jurek made his own breaks Sunday in the championship round of the 56th George A. Obenauer Masters Tournament at AMF Lancaster Lanes.
Jurek, 56, became the oldest Masters winner by edging Mike Zarcone, 623-621, in a gripping final match to win the event for the first time since 1999. It was the first time the two had crossed paths in an Obenauer match.
Jurek’s 86-year-old mother, Eileen, and sister, Kathy, were on hand to watch him win his second Obenauer title after three runner-up finishes and capturing top qualifier honors four times.
"I know I hadn’t won in 20 years and I wasn’t as loose as I wanted to be," confessed Jurek, a veteran of the PBA and PBA50 Tour.
"Funny, the pins seem to know when you’re not quite as loose as you want to be."
Before Jurek, the previous oldest champion was Phil Dewey, who is believed to be 52 when he won his third Obenauer in 1981.
It was as difficult a victory as the score would indicate. Jurek trailed 426-396 entering the finale of the three-game total pinfall match. He won the third game, 227-195, pounding the pocket for seven strikes and making four one-pin spares after solid hits.
Still, it boiled down to the last two frames for Zarcone, who was coming off titles won in the City Open Championship.
Until then, the 52-year-old veteran campaigner from Tonawanda had only one open frame when he couldn't convert a 4-7-10 split in his second game. When he couldn’t convert a 6-7-10 split in the third game, it left an opening.
Zarcone still had a chance to win the match and send the championship to another round, but he needed double strikes in the 10th. He got the first strike, but left the 4-pin on his next ball.
"I never quit," said Zarcone, who lost his opening match on Thursday then won seven in a row to stay alive. On Sunday, he defeated Tom Sorce of Blasdell, 607-599, in an elimination match, then eliminated 24-year-old left-hander Sean Dietz of Lockport, 700-653, in another elimination match to advance to the final.
Jurek had defeated Dietz, 708-625, to secure his place in the championship match.
The win was worth $2,000 in prize money for Jurek plus a paid entry and $500 towards travel and hotel expenses to the 2020 USBC Masters in Reno, Nev. Zarcone collected $1,200 for second place.