Bob Learn Jr. of Erie, Pa., qualified atop the stepladder, followed by David D'Entremont of Parma, Ohio, Odom, Dave Ferraro of Kingston, N.Y., and defending champion Pete Weber of Florissant, Mo. Dundalk's Danny Wiseman, the 1990 Fair Lanes Open winner, didn't reach this afternoon's championship round.
Odom, who hasn't made a championship-round appearance this year, didn't appear to be in good position for contention on Thursday after finishing 17th of the 24 bowlers that qualified for match play. He was in 14th place going into his final match on Thursday night when, with the crowd at Fair Lanes Woodlawn loudly offering their support, he bowled a 300 game that launched him into fourth place.
"That was great, but it made me tired [yesterday] because vvTC didn't get any sleep because I was so excited," Odom said. "The crowd really pumped me up -- the fans here have been really fantastic."
And Odom gave them even more reason to cheer during yesterday's morning session in winning six of his eight matches.
"I don't feel like I bowled well," Odom said afterward. "But there's a difference between bowling well and scoring well. I made some shots in certain situations that helped me score and win some matches."
Odom's been bowling since he was 13, but as a teen-ager he wanted to play football.
"I played football in high school and I felt I had the best hands in the city -- I could catch the ball," said Odom, who's from Winston-Salem, N.C. "But as a blocker, well, that was not my forte."
Not when you're a 5-foot-9, 130-pound offensive end, Odom's position. Playing on a team that mainly ran the ball and needed plenty of blocking, Odom decided his days as a football player were numbered.
"Our other offensive end was 50 pounds heavier than me and he blocked, so he played," Odom said. "The next year we had 25 people go out for offensive end. So I decided not to play football again."
Instead he wrestled, a sport he continued when he went to Livingstone College. But when he injured a knee and doctors wanted him to get an operation, he decided his career in that sport also was over.
"Since I was averaging 190 as a junior bowler than, I didn't want to miss any time with an operation," Odom said. "So I just stuck with bowling."
Odom has earned $228,041 in his bowling career, which began in 1981. His best career finish was second in the PBA Showboat Atlantic City (N.J.) open in 1989.
1, Bob Learn Jr., Erie, Pa., 13-10-1, 9,953. 2, Dave D'Entremont, Parma, Ohio, 15-9, 9,900. 3, Curtis Odom, Winston-Salem, N.C., 13-11, 9,828. 4, Dave Ferraro, Kingston, N.Y., 13-10-1, 9,731. 5, Pete Weber, Florissant, Mo., 14-9-1, 9,717. 6, Ron Palombi Jr., Erie, Pa., 15-9, 9,696, $5,000.
7, Bob Handley, Pompano Beach, Fla., 12-11-1, 9,656, $4,000. 8, Brian McClure, Wichita Falls, Texas, 13-11, 9,574, $3,500. 9, Pete McCordic, Katy, Texas, 14-9-1, 9,572, $3,000. 10, Norm Duke, Albuquerque, N.M., 13-10-1, 9,568, $2,800. 11, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 11-13, 9,547, $2,600. 12, Brian Berg, Edmond, Okla., 12-11-1, 9,525, $2,500.
13, Jason Couch, Winter Garden, Fla., 11-12-1, 9,462, $2,400. 14, Brad Snell, Elk Grove, Ill., 10-13-1, 9,445, $2 ,300. 15, Jim Johnson, Wilmington, Del., 12-12, 9,410, $2,200. 16, Danny Wiseman, Baltimore, Md., 8-16, 9,389, $2,100. 17, Paul Koehler, Stuart, Fla., 12-12, 9,387, $2,000. 18, Robert Lawrence, Austin, Texas, 14-10, 9,381, $1,900.
19, Guppy Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 10-14, 9,331, $1,800. 20, Justin Hromek, Andover, Kan., 8-16, 9,283, $1,750. 21, Jeff Germann, Warren, Ohio, 9-14-1, 9,274, $1,700. 22, Vince Mazzanti, Levittown, Pa., 10-14, 9,261, $1,650. 23, Tony Franklin, Grapevine, Texas, 13-11, 9,207, $1,600. 24, Roger Bowker, Ocala, Fla., 8-16, 9,136, $1,550.
Facts and figures
What: $150,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open
Where: Fair Lanes Woodlawn
When: Today, TV finals, 3 to 4:30 p.m.
TV: channels 13, 7
Top bowlers: Curtis Odom, Bob Learn Jr., Dundalk's Danny Wiseman, defending champion Pete Weber
Tickets: Sold out
At stake: $31,000 for first place, $16,000 for second
Stop on PBA Tour: Seventh of 16 tournaments