HAMMOND | Brian Gunn needed this one.
The Chicago resident and Griffith native looked relieved when his ball struck in the final frame of the third annual Times/Pepsi Masters Classic Saturday at Olympia Lanes, giving him the 191-160, 204-198 win over Rick Thomas.
"Words can't describe it. This is the first thing I've won in a very long time," the PBA tour regular said. "This one's going to be dedicated to my mom."
Gunn's mother, Zoanne, died about a year ago. This is his first major win since.
"I've been going through a lot lately, changing my game and trying to better myself, bowling tour events," Gunn said. "I didn't really even want to bowl today, but I decided I was going to go ahead and give it a chance."
The Masters Classic is played on the 2013 USBC Masters tournament oil pattern. It's meant to be more difficult and draw out only the best bowlers.
Gunn worked his way through the loser's bracket to avenge an earlier match play loss to Thomas with two victories in the final.
Lady luck appeared to be on Thomas's side at one point in game one, though. Gunn left two spares out there in the sixth and seventh frames while Thomas notched Brooklyn strikes in the sixth and eighth.
"I had been changing tape a lot and I didn't change it on the ball I was using and I kind of hung it a little," Gunn said. "But that's no excuse. I just missed flat-out them."
Thomas, from Willowbrook, was visibly frustrated and made several ball changes during the two-game final round. He wasn't able to take advantage of Gunn's missteps.
"I was pretty well lined up before (the championship round), but I got a tough pair (of lanes) here," Thomas said. "I didn't have the same break point."
Thomas said he'd been using three balls for most of the day but was baffled by the lanes in the final.
"I was really searching," he said. "At least I made it close for him."
Olympia manager Mike Kozy said the overall number of entries was down this year compared to 2012, probably due to several other major tournaments taking place this weekend.