Firestone Tournament Of Champions
$100,000 FIRESTONE TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Riviera Lanes, Akron, Ohio, Apr 1-5, 1969
Godman Overpowers Champs
Power was the name of the game in the $100,000 Firestone Tournament of Champions.
JIM GODMAN is the name of the champion.
The 23-year-old Godman started strong and finished stronger as he won professional bowling's richest prize, $25,000, at the Riviera Lanes in Akron, Ohio.
Power . . . Godman was a respectable eighth after the first day of the tournament.
Power . . . Godman registered a sensational 20-4-0 record in match play, including 13 straight wins, which gave him a 170-pin margin over his nearest rival and seeded him No. 1 in the finals.
Power . . . Godman exploded for seven straight strikes in the title match and registered an awesome 266 to gain bowling's most coveted crown.
Godman told newsmen, "It was the biggest thrill of my life. I just had to do what I had been doing all year . . . throwing the ball hard and keeping a good tight line."
Godman; Dave Soutar; Jim Stefanich; Wayne Zahn, and Don Johnson were the five who made it into the nationally televised finals, and they were seeded in that order.
Johnson, who had been runnerup in 1967 and 1968, fell behind Zahn's opening five strikes and lost, 258-193.
Zahn next ran into Stefanich and in one of the most tense games ever staged in a PBA playoff, they went into the 10th frame with Zahn a pin ahead. Stefanich struck in the ninth and 10th and finished with a spare for 237. Zahn needed only nine to tie, a strike to win. A leave of four pins was difficult to believe and Stefanich was the winner, 237-234.
Against Soutar, Stefanich finished with four in a row and Soutar left a 4-7-9-10 split for the $25,000-on-the-line finale.
Stefanich appeared zeroed in and the consensus of the experts in attendance favored the Joliet Jolter by a slight margin over Godman, who had been waiting nervously for the completion of the three playoff games.
Godman changed their thinking quickly. Smoking every ball, he started with a turkey. He added three more and was halfway home to the big one.
He added a strike in the seventh, but a pin up in the eighth stopped the string. But it was over ---- Stefanich's respectable 228 was no match. Godman, who had missed the finals just the year before by 32 pins, was the happiest guy in the universe.
The tournament was frustration for some others. Defending Firestone champion Dave Davis exited after missing the 24-man finals field, and Dick Weber, who was at or near the top throughout the early going, finished in sixth place.
The biggest block of the tournament was an 1858 turned in Thursday afternoon by left-hander Don Glover. Earl Johnson thrilled a big opening day crowd with a perfect game.
It was a typically great Tournament of Champions week, probably the best in the five-year history of the tournament.
PLAYOFF RESULTS-Zahn defeated Johnson, 258-193; Stefanich defeated Zahn, 237-234; Stefanich defeated Soutar, 227-201; and in the championship game Godman defeated Stefanich, 266-228. 48-GAME TOTALS 24-GAME TOTALS Pro-Am Cashers ($100)-Sam Baca. ($50)-Harry Smith, Mike Durbin, Dick Weber and Jim Stefanich. Qualifying Leader-Weber, 5288. 24th Low-Engan, 4914. *Alternates. **Received $100 for 300 game.
Pro-Am Cashers ($100)-Sam Baca. ($50)-Harry Smith, Mike Durbin, Dick Weber and Jim Stefanich. Qualifying Leader-Weber, 5288. 24th Low-Engan, 4914. *Alternates. **Received $100 for 300 game.