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A repeat winner here is, at the least, feasible

In bowling, a double in the seventh is nice. That would be back-to-back strikes in Frames 6 and 7. In the Medford PBA tournament, a double in the seventh would mean someone won for the second time here.

The Lumber Liquidators Earl Anthony Medford Classic — I know, I know ... you won't see that name in a headline anytime soon — unfolds next week as one of the longest running events on the Denny's Professional Bowlers Association Tour. In its seventh year, it's tied with three other stops: Fountain Valley, Calif.; Taylor, Mich.; and Wyoming, Mich.

Two of the other three venues have had the same bowler win at least twice. That makes sense, I guess. If you can have horses for courses, you can have horses for houses. At Fountain Valley, it's Jason Couch; at Taylor, it's Patrick Allen.

So what are the odds of a former Lava Lanes champion stepping up again next week?

The laws of probability don't exactly come into play on the PBA Tour. There are more variables than you can shake a pin at: who's hot, who's not, who draws who in match play, lane conditions, ball speed, ball revolutions, ball weight and drilling specs and how all that matches up to oil movement and the effect of multiple players throwing over the same line. You might as well try to predict which snowflake will hit the ground first.

Maybe Walter Ray Williams Jr. could take a stab at it. He has a degree in physics from Cal-Poly Pomona.

Otherwise, like Brian Himmler says, "It's a crapshoot."

However, then he says, "I almost did it last year, so it's feasible."

Feasible? We could feasibly have a repeat winner? That's good enough.

Himmler won in 2006, then made the championship match again last year but was drubbed by that Diaper Dandy, Sean Rash. After them, there are only two others to consider, but it's a pretty good pair to draw to: Mike Wolfe (2004-05) and Hall of Famer Pete Weber (2003-04).

Those are the four options. The winners of the first two events, Ricky Ward and Bryan Goebel, are no longer on tour.

As for form, Rash and Wolfe have already won this year and rank near the top in several stat categories.

Weber hasn't made a championship-round appearance but had a first-half streak of four tournaments where he placed sixth once and seventh three times. He also has the due factor working. In the 25 years since he first won on tour, only six times did PDW not post a win.

Himmler only had one top eight finish in the first half, but he's made the previous two shows here and would have made it three straight had Hall of Famer Norm Duke not defeated him in the round of eight three years ago. He might even be considered the horse for this house.

"Some places you just walk in the door and get off to a good start and you get to feeling comfortable," says the man they call "Chief." "That's how it's been the last few years there."

Himmler has had a pattern in recent years of struggling early in the season, then coming on strong. The first half certainly fit that mold, and it was exacerbated in the last stop in Spartanburg, S.C.

"I didn't even touch a ball," Himmler says of the two weeks off for the holidays. "I needed a break. I was pretty fried after South Carolina. It's easy when things are going really good. But when you're just kind of hanging around and then have a bad week ... I just wanted to get away for a while. Out here, everybody's good. When you've got it, you've got it. When you don't, you're battling. It's a roller coaster out here."

Of the four going for their second win here — and excluding himself — Himmler taps Wolfe as someone to watch for "if I had to pick one of those people. It's just because of how good he's bowling and what we're bowling on next week. He matches up real well on that one right now."

That would be the cheetah oil pattern, which has been used only once this year (in a tournament won by Williams) and has changed from last year, making it something of a mystery.

"It's been one of my favorites," says Wolfe, "but they tweaked it a little bit so it's still pretty fresh to everybody. The highest scorers will be the guys who figure it out the fastest."

Wolfe thinks a good scenario would be to have all four former winners in the championship round.

"Sean has a good TV record," says Wolfe of defending champ Rash's 7-0 mark on the show. "Pete's still Pete, and Chief can win any given week. Then you throw myself in there. I don't know if you could put odds on that one."

At least that would ensure a double in the seventh.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

Mike Wolfe defeated Walter Ray Williams, Jr., and Norm Duke to win the 2004 Earl Anthony Medford Classic.