Chris Tuholski strikes big to claim Husted Open
Troutdale's Chris Tuholski came up big in a pressure-packed spot Sunday afternoon to claim the Dave Husted Open bowling title.
Tuholski spent the latter part of the finals working to hold off a hard-charging Matt McGill out of Grants Pass — the 12th-and-final qualifier from Saturday's games, who had surged into second place by the end of Sunday's match play.
That left the two locked into what amounted to a winner-take-all final game on the center lanes at Milwaukie Bowl.
Both players were up for the challenge, combining to roll seven consecutive strikes through the early frames. Tuholski was able to breath a delayed sigh of relief in the fourth frame after a fallen pin scooted across the back row and kicked out the 10 pin.
"It was intense," Tuholski said. "I knew I had to start striking a lot."
He held a 10-pin advantage midway through the match.
McGill failed to strike in four straight frames, and Tuholski secured the victory by knocking them all down in frames eight and nine.
His father Craig was keeping a sharp eye on the title bout while bowling another placing match on the edge of the alley. After seeing his son's back-to-back strikes, he walked through the bench area and embraced Chris is a long celebratory hug.
"I was kinda going through the motions getting my game done," Craig Tuholski said. "I was more intent on watching his match — the way you would root on a teammate."
The Husteds, Dave and Corey, are the only other father-son combination to win the tournament in its 40-year history.
Chris' most memorable roll was yet to come when he stepped onto the approach and released his first ball in the 10th frame. The ball scattered the 10 pins for a turkey (three strikes in a row), and Chris could be heard yelling 'This is for you grandpa' before moving to the ball return with tears in his eyes.
He wanted to remember his grandpa Lewis 'Bud' Shields, who had passed away a few months earlier.
"He was a big part of my life and he always cared about my bowling," Chris said.
Chris was the player to beat all weekend, finishing Saturday as the top qualifier with a 221.5 average through eight games.
He retained that top position midway through Sunday's match play before seeing McGill take a brief lead by seven pins late in the day.
Tuholski responded with three consecutive head-to-head wins to pick up 90 points in bonus pin-fall (30 per victory).
"I knew I was in the top three all weekend, but it's tough especially with the talent that was in Sunday's top-12," Chris said. "I tried not to look at the scores and just concentrate on the game at hand, taking it one shot at a time."
He was up 80 pins heading into match 11, which happened to be against McGill, who needed a win to have any chance in the upcoming final.
The players were only a pin apart through seven frames before Tuholski suffered a rare split for an open eighth frame, setting up the winner-take-all finale.
"That one didn't go my way, and I just had to forget Game 11," Chris said. "Whoever won that next one was going to take the tournament. I needed to go into it with a new game plan and figure out how to beat him."
His father Craig found himself as high as third on the leader board before finishing in eighth place.
Chris, who has made the final in all six regional tournaments this season, bumped up two spots and sits second in the Northwest season points list (6,135) — 20 behind Dean Richards out of Tacoma.
"This puts me into the running for Player of the Year," Chris said. "I'm going to really have to focus in these next few tournaments."
The Northwest Tour continues through November, culminating with the Epicenter Open in Klamath Falls.
Dave Husted Open Top-10 finishers
1. Chris Tuholski, Troutdale 4,491
2. Matthew McGill, Grants Pass 4,398
3. Zack Stone, Longview 4,366
4. Jason Hollingsworth, Milwaukie 4,347
5. Dean Richards, Tacoma 4,322
6. Corey Husted, Gladstone 4,289
7. Jordan Jung, Vancouver, BC 4,231
8. Craig Tuholski, Gresham 4,230
9. Nick Borgaro, Coeur D'Alene, Id. 4,190
10. Derek Handy, Redmond, Wash. 3,945
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