Ninth Annual National Championship
$80,000 NINTH ANNUAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
New Madison Square Garden Center, New York City, NY, Dec 1-6, 1968
Zahn Cops 1968 National
"Wayne Zahn has the National Championship wrapped up, I don't see what everyone's so excited about."
So spoke Harry Johnson, one of the pros who was ousted earlier. And, he said it at the time Dave Davis had just taken over the lead after winning eight straight games in the first session of the head-to-head competition.
Johnson's prognosis of the Madison Square Garden extravaganza proved unerring. Zahn, after being out of the lead for one game, came back like a lion to wrap up the $80,000 tournament going away.
Asked later why he predicted as he did, Johnson replied: "Wayne was throwing 'easy-like' all through the tournament. The rest of the guys were straining. It was that simple."
"Easy-like" did it for the 6-foot, 175-pound blond. At the finish of the 60- game grind he was 441 pins ahead of runner-up Nelson Burton, Jr. And, he was just as "easy-like" in the press room following his $10,000 win.
"Worried? Certainly, nobody goes into a tournament like this not worried," he replied to press questions. ' "When did I feel I had it wrapped up? When I threw that 265 in the 59th game of the tournament.
"It was a great personal victory for me. Although I had won two other titles this year, I wanted the big one again. It was a great feeling knowing I could do it twice in three years."
Zahn was referring to the victory he scored in the PBA National Championship in 1966. And, the two wins in 1968 at Houston and Edison, N.J.
Actually, this was the 27-year-old pro's easiest victory. After Steve Wallace shot to the front on the strength of a 300 game in the opening six-game set, and Bob Strampe moved to the fore in the second session, Zahn shot two 1,400 blocks . . . 1,412 and 1,449 . . . to take over the lead he didn't relinquish for the rest of the way, except for the one game when Davis took over.
When the race went into the second eight-game block of the match game play, the race was for second place, and it was a dandy. Davis and Dick Weber gave it the big try before settling for seventh and sixth, respectively. Nelson Burton, Jr., Jim Godman, Bobby Cooper and Dick Ritger came strong at the end to fill the gap from second through fifth.
The $10,000 first raised Zahn's earnings for the year to $38,607 and fifth place in the 1968 race. Jim Stefanich, who earned a record $67,375, was followed by Davis ($46,350), Bill Allen ($42,125) and Don Johnson with $38,990. Stefanich and Johnson failed to cash in the National while Davis received $1,800 for seventh and Allen reaped $1,250 for 15th place.
The tournament was tagged a whopping success by Joe Acquafreda, director of Bowling at Madison Square Garden Center.
36 GAME TOTALS
36--Game Qualifying Leader-Zahn, 8072. 24th Low-Oppenheim, 7506.