Haugen wins PBA event in Las Vegas

Jan 27, 2008 - 9:11 PM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) - Michael Haugen Jr.'s chances to win his first career major title looked bleak in the sixth frame of Sunday's H&R Block Tournament of Champions.

What followed next may go down as one of the greatest comebacks in PBA Tour history and one of the most heartbreaking moments in the career of a man who has had many.

Haugen overcame a 50-pin deficit to edge Chris Barnes, 215-214.

The title match that was as much about Haugen's guts as it was about the crucial mistake Barnes made to miss out on his third career major title.

The top-seeded Haugen had an adventurous week, which started in urgent care Wednesday night due to a sickness. He bounced back to make match play by qualifying eighth and went 15-3 in round-robin to earn an automatic berth in the title match.

Barnes came into the finals riding a seven-game losing streak, the second-longest streak on his career, but he had a history of breaking losing streaks with a flair for the dramatic: he broke a career-worst eight-game losing streak in 2005 by winning his first career major title in the 62nd U.S. Open

Things looked to be heading that way again when the second-seeded Barnes breezed past No. 3 Ryan Shafer, 257-205, in the semifinals and started the title match with strikes in the first three frames while Haugen left the 4-6-7 in the second and the 4-7-10 in the fifth, giving Barnes what seemed like an insurmountable lead.

The match started to turn in the seventh when Barnes lost his carry and left three consecutive single pins, the third of which set off a stunning turn of events.

Barnes whiffed the 10-pin in the ninth frame, giving Haugen the slightest of openings. Haugen, who had struck in the seventh and eighth frames, took advantage by striking in the ninth and then doubling in the 10th to force Barnes to double for the win.

The eight-time champion left a 2-pin with his first shot in the 10th and picked up the spare which still gave him a chance for the tie with a strike. Instead, he left the 4-pin this time, leaving Haugen to celebrate from the bench for the second time this season.

"You can't give up, you just can't," Haugen said. "There's a lot of pressure and prestige in this event and you just want to make good shots and not embarrass yourself.

"I looked at the scoreboard around the seventh frame and knew if he didn't strike the rest of the way and I did, the most he could get was 220s and I could get to the 210s. I knew I could at least make him think about it. Anything can happen, a 7-10 or a 4-9, but I never thought it would be a missed single pin."

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