Take a Wild Ride

by PBA Editor February 2, 2003 19:00
C’mon, you know you like it. You’re a stat freak and think that bowling and numbers go together better than peanut butter and jelly. Fear not. You’ve come to the right place. PBA.com’s George Wooten dug deep inside his weekly journal and pulled out some of the more telling statistics from a week full of facts and figures at the 60th U.S. Open presented by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. 0 – PBA Tour titles for Michael Haugen Jr. in 114 career tournaments. 1 – Players who own PBA’s Super Slam (Mike Aulby, ’79 PBA Natl., ’85 PBA Natl., ’89 U.S. Open, ’89 ABC Masters, ’95 T of C, ’95 ABC Masters, ’96 Touring Players Championship, ’98 Masters). 2 –Years that Fountain Bowl has hosted the event (2001, ’03). 4 – Players who have successfully defended the U.S. Open title, including: *Andy Varipapa (1946, ’47); *Don Carter (1952, ’54 and 1956, ’58); *Dick Weber (1962, ’63 and 1966, ’67); and Dave Husted (1995, ’96). *BPAA All-Star events. 6 – Major championships won by Pete Weber (’87 T of C, ’88 U.S. Open, ’89 PBA Natl., ’91 U.S. Open, ’92 Touring Players Championship, ’98 PBA Natl.). 9 – Finals telecast appearances by Walter Ray Williams Jr. in 2002-03 season (17 events). 10 – Countries that Mika Koivuniemi has won bowling tournaments (Finland, USA, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Holland, China, Italy, Sweden & Denmark). 15 – Consecutive matches won by Walter Ray Williams Jr. during the first two rounds of match play. 22 – Entrants from nine foreign countries, including Finland (9), Germany (3), Australia (2), Mexico (2), Venezuela (2), Canada (1), Korea (1), Philippines (1), Sweden (1). 28 – Number of career titles for Pete Weber. 51 – Total number of games bowled by each of the Top 24 players. 60 – Number of years BPAA All-Star/U.S. Open has been held. The tournament became known as the U.S. Open in 1971. 144 – First round qualifying position of Walter Ray Williams Jr. 158 – First game score of Walter Ray Williams Jr. of 2003 U.S. Open. It was all uphill from there. He averaged 216.39 after 51 games and earned the top seed for the finals. 198 – Average needed for 18 games to cash. 206 – Average needed to qualify for match play. 211 – Average needed to make Top 4. 300 – High game of the tournament (Michael Haugen Jr., Match Play Rd. 2). 347 – Number of entrants at the 60th U.S. Open. $1,886.79 – How much each game is worth for U.S. Open champion (53 total games). 7,608 – Number of games bowled at the 60th U.S. Open. $3,004,701 – Career earnings for Walter Ray Williams Jr. with a win at the U.S. Open.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Road Goes Through WRW

by PBA Editor January 31, 2003 19:00
The final round of match play was a mere formality for Walter Ray Williams Jr. at the 60th U.S. Open, presented by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service at Fountain Bowl. The No. 1 player on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour averaged 216.39 for 51 games to qualify first for the stepladder finals Sunday. Williams, Ocala, Fla., won 19 of 24 matches for the right to bowl for his second U.S. Open title. “It feels good to lead the tournament,” said Williams, who won the 1998 U.S. Open title. “I’d rather be the leader, because I only have to win one match for the title. The worst I could do is second.” Williams didn’t appear to be a dominant player early the in the tournament, placing 144th after the first round of qualifying. But the five-time PBA Player of the Year steadily climbed through the 348-player field to eventually lead the tournament by 203 pins. If Williams wins the $100,000 first place prize, he will surpass $3 million in career earnings. “The more we bowled, the more comfortable I became with the lane conditions,” said Williams. “If the pins cooperate the way they’ve done all week, I should be tough to beat.” Michael Haugen Jr., Victorville, Calif., was able to hang on to second place with a 11,403 score. The 36-year-old rolled the only 300 game of the tournament, and will make his first appearance in the championship round this season. Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi qualified in third place with a 11,399 score. Koivuniemi, the defending champion, is looking to become the second repeat champion at the U.S. Open. Rounding out the final four and making his first championship round appearance of the year is two-time U.S. Open winner Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo. The PBA Hall of Famer averaged 211.51, and is seeking his 29th career title. The top four players will compete for the U.S. Open title and the $100,000 first prize Sunday. ESPN will air the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 2, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Williams Running Away

by PBA Editor January 31, 2003 19:00
Walter Ray Williams Jr. is preparing to leave the field behind at the 60th U.S. Open, presented by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service at Fountain Bowl. Williams, Ocala, Fla., stretched his lead to 285 pins after the second round of match play. The 1998 U.S. Open champion has won 15 straight matches (15-1 overall) for a 9,833 43-game pinfall total. “I don’t know if I’ve ever won that many matches in a row,” said Williams, who had a high game of 278. “I haven’t had many big games shot at me, and I’ve become more comfortable with the lane conditions as the tournament has gone on.” The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Hall of Famer admits that his comfort with playing the lanes straighter gives him an advantage. “A lot of guys aren’t comfortable going up the lane,” said Williams. “They want to swing the ball and make the pins go sideways. But because I’m going straighter, I think I’m able to break up splits, and leave easy spares.” With eight match games remaining, Williams has a chance to break the PBA record for number of matches won in a 24-game round robin. Hall of Famer George Pappas went 22-2 at Kansas City in 1974. “I doubt that I’ll break the record, but I’ll certainly be trying for it,” said Williams. “Obviously I’m very positive about the way I’m bowling, and I want to be in the position to bowl one game for the title.” Michael Haugen, Victorville, Calif., has been the bowler that has stayed closest to Williams with a 9,548 score. The 36-year-old rolled the first 300 game of the tournament, and led briefly in the sixth round. Defending champion Mika Koivuniemi continued his march towards a third major title as he moved into third place with 9,498. Norm Duke moved from eighth to fourth with 9,379. With a win in the U.S. Open, Duke would become the fifth player to win the PBA Triple Crown (U.S. Open, PBA Tournament of Champions, PBA World Championship). The top 24 players roll the final eight-game round of match play Saturday evening. The top four players compete for the U.S. Open title and the $100,000 first prize Sunday. ESPN will air the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 2, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Volunteers Make Tournament Tick

by PBA Editor January 30, 2003 19:00
Behind every great sporting event is an army of volunteers. The 60th U.S. Open in Fountain Valley, Calif., is no exception. From scorekeeping to player services, the 108 local volunteers are the key to making the week-long tournament at Fountain Bowl running smoothly. “Without the volunteers, the tournament wouldn’t happen,” said Dennis Mathews, general manager of Fountain Bowl. “The event wouldn’t be what it is without them.” Mathews and his staff have their work cut out for them at the U.S. Open. With 348 players entered in the event, it isn’t your typical event on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. “Most PBA tournaments don’t have this many players,” he said. “It’s almost like hosting three tournaments at the same time. But we enjoy every minute of it.” Volunteers of the U.S. Open are comprised mostly of Fountain Bowl customers. The organization of volunteers begins with a selection of “Ambassadors” who are the center’s most loyal customers. “The Ambassadors act as the base for our volunteer corps,” said Mathews. “They are the ones who make the selections of the volunteers.” Mathews said the group of volunteers started small, but grew by volumes as the tournament progressed. The Ambassadors didn’t have to look very far to recruit workers. “Most of the Ambassadors have significant others, and those folks get roped in, too,” said Mathews. “Then when word gets out that you’re hosting a professional bowling tournament, it seems like everyone wants to be involved.” But the late-comers that wanted to hang out with the stars didn’t get on the list. Mathew’s group of volunteers lend their time to junior and senior tournaments at Fountain Bowl, as well to organizations like Special Olympics. “I didn’t want to discount the efforts of those who are here all the time,” said Mathews. “The late-comers didn’t put in the time that others had, and I respect their loyalty.” There is one Ambassadors for each committee in the event: scoring, security, player services, merchandise sales and welcoming committees. According to Mathews, the volunteers in each group come from all walks of life, from students to retirees. “We have a large range of ages as volunteers, from our junior bowlers all the way up to our seniors,” he said. “So the ages range from 13 all the way up to age 84.” For their efforts throughout the week, the volunteers enjoy exclusive, up-close and personal views of the tournament and players. They also get some pretty nice incentives. “We put them all in U.S. Open apparel, we treat them to food all during the week, and we make sure that they can attend the TV show,” said Mathews. “When we’re all done, we have a very large party for the volunteers. We feed them, and have drawings for U.S. Open items from the tournament.” Mathews is thankful that he has such a reliable crew to assist his staff of 58 in hosting a professional tournament. “There aren’t enough words to describe the kindness and work ethic of our volunteers,” said Mathews. “It’s their dedication and commitment that ensures success for this event and for future events at our facility.” E-Mail this PBA.com columnist
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Shafer Hangs On

by PBA Editor January 30, 2003 19:00
It wasn’t pretty, but Ryan Shafer was able to hang on to the top spot at the 60th U.S. Open, presented by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service at Fountain Bowl. Shafer, Elmira, N.Y., showed moments of mediocrity during the nine-game round. Four of Shafer’s games were under 200, including a low game of 161. But Shafer saved himself by rolling 254 in game two and 269 in game eight to hold on to the lead with a 5,822 score. “I didn’t look like the guy who bowled the last three days,” said Shafer, a three-time winner on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. “My equipment didn’t match up well with the conditions, and it showed for most of the day.” Shafer said he watched other players in the way they attacked the lanes, something he usually doesn’t do. “My ball roll is pretty unique, so I don’t watch other players very often,” said Shafer. “I don’t do it until I am totally lost, and there were a few times today when that was the case.” With the qualifying rounds coming to a close, Shafer is optimistic about the match play competition. “Now the real tournament begins,” said Shafer. “This morning was a wake-up call. The way I bowled today will motivate me to stay on top for the rest of the week.” Moving up to second was Haugen, Victorville, Calif. He began the day in third place, and used a 269 opening game on his way to a 5,776 total. “I’m surprised that I’m doing so well,” said Haugen, a non-winner on the Tour. “I’m not really comfortable playing a deep inside angle, but that’s the way to score this week.” Former U.S. Open titlist Walter Ray Williams Jr. had the round of the day, as he moved up from eighth place to third. The 1998 Open winner recorded a 2,004 total for nine games (222.67) for a 5,757 overall score. Defending U.S. Open champion Mika Koivuniemi slipped from second place to fourth with 5,744, and Rick Steelsmith rounded out the top five with a 5,684 score. The top 24 players now advance to round-robin match play on Friday evening and Saturday. The top four players will compete for the title and the $100,000 first prize Sunday. ESPN will air the finals live on Sunday, Feb. 2, from 12:30-2 p.m. (ET).
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.