His Day! Eugene McCune Claims First Title

Eugene McCune claimed his first title and joined the ranks of father/son champions when he won the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Banquet Classic Sunday at Spectrum Lanes.

In the championship match, McCune, Munster, Ind., defeated hall of famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 224-186, and picked up the $40,000 top prize.

The 34-year-old, whose father Don McCune won eight times and was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1991, won for the first time after 15 years on tour.

"It's like throwing a billion monkeys off my back," he said. "It means so much. Your whole career, everyone says 'you throw the ball great' and 'you have all the talent in the world.' When you don't win it's tough. Now I can say I beat the best in the world. No matter what anybody says, they can't take that away from me."

The McCune name is added to the list of father/son champions in PBA history. The roll includes the Weber family (Dick and Pete) and the Johnson family (Don and Jimmy Jr.).

Against Williams, McCune opened with five of the first six strikes and led by 23 pins after the sixth frame. The biggest blow for Williams came in the fourth when he missed the 2-4-5-8 "bucket" combination, his second open of the day. McCune finished the match with a strike in the eighth and spares in the seventh, ninth and 10th. A clean game for McCune proved to be enough as Williams left the 10th frame open after leaving the 4-6-7-10 "big four" split.

"I'm sure Eugene will be on Cloud No. 9 for a week or two," said Williams, who earned $20,000 in his third consecutive title match. "I remember my first title (1986) and how exciting it was. But, I'd rather his first one would've been against someone else."

Williams has now finished second to a new champion seven times in his career, a new PBA record. He also has 35 second place finishes to go along with his 35 titles. The right-hander has earned $80,000 the last three weeks with two second-place finishes and one victory (Taylor, Mich.).
He remains as the PBA Points leader (125,400) for 2002-03 en route to the PBA World Championship in March.

In the semifinals, Williams knocked off Tom Baker, 211-201, while McCune narrowly beat Norm Duke, 222-206. Baker, Buffalo, N.Y., and Duke, Clermont, Fla., tied for third place and garnered $10,000 each. In the opening match, Baker thumped Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 223-175. Machuga picked up $9,000 in fifth.

The PBA Tour travels to Springfield, Pa., and Sproul Lanes for the inaugural PBA Pepsi Open, Nov. 20-24. The event will mark the ninth of 22 tournaments on the 2002-03 PBA Tour.