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BEAT THE CHAMPS: Wes Malott ready to get rolling

Reigning U.S. Open champiWes Malott will set men’s target score for 53rd BeChampions Christmas Day. | JCunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Reigning U.S. Open champion Wes Malott will set the men’s target score for the 53rd Beat the Champions on Christmas Day. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 14, 2013 10:01PM

Even though it’s his first time bowling the men’s target score for Beat the Champions, Wes Malott gets it.

‘‘The whole event is about the charity,’’ Malott said. ‘‘I am just happy to be here and to be part of it. More than willing.’’

Contest week for league bowlers in the 53rd BTC was Dec. 1-7. Next is the traditional Christmas Day TV broadcast of the target scores (11 a.m., CSN). As tradition dictates, reigning U.S. Open champions Malott and Liz Johnson will set the targets at Suburbanite Bowl in Westmont.

Malott has the charity part down. In the first 52 years the Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association and the Sun-Times co-sponsored BTC, 5,681,134 entries have raised $2,776,374.70 for charity.

In recent years, there have been added charity angles, including Charity Strikes. In that, each pro setting the target score chooses a charity. For each strike in the fifth and 10th frames of each of the three games in the target show, Miller High Life donates $100 to the charity of the pro’s choice.

For Malott, that is the Go Mitch Go Foundation (, which was formed in 2009 to honor
the legacy of Mitchell Graham Whitaker, who died of complications associated with leukemia at the age of 10 in 2007. Whitaker’s life mirrors that of Malott’s son. The foundation provides funding for research and assistance to families struggling with the disease.

That’s the serious side of BTC. There’s also the fun side of shooting a TV show that isn’t as deadly serious as a PBA event — although in the case of Malott and Johnson, there are complicating factors.

Johnson, who will set the
women’s target score for the third time, has beaten Malott twice
before in televised events, including the first ‘‘Battle of the Sexes’’ last summer at the U.S. Open.

‘‘I need to put to rest her beating me on TV, but mainly we want to have fun,’’ Malott said.

Malott has won nine PBA titles, the last coming when he defeated Parker Bohn III on Dec. 1 to win the Cheetah Championship. Malott was the PBA player of the year in 2009, when he won three titles.

Malott is bringing something new to BTC. He has a new Storm bowling ball, the IQ Tour Fusion, a hybrid ball that will be released early next year.

‘‘I had it drilled in Japan,’’ Malott said. ‘‘Maybe I have an edge.’’

Ultimately, edges are what final-
ists are looking for in BTC. After all, the top prize for the men’s and women’s champions in March are automobiles from the Chicagoland Ford Dealers.

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