December 15, 2006 19:00
By Michael Fagan
This week on the PBA Tour was much easier than most for me. I didn’t have to worry about rental cars, flights, or hotel rooms. I didn’t even have to worry about doing my own laundry!
I had been looking forward to this week since I saw it on the schedule in October. Not only because I would be at home and have the support of my family and friends, but I was confident I was going to be able to give them a good show. This was the first time in my 5 years on the PBA that I got to bowl on the Shark pattern and had all the pins carry over. It is my favorite pattern by far and I was excited to see what I could do if the wood wasn’t dropped. I usually don’t come into a tournament with the type of confidence I had this particular week.
I followed the same routine that I do when I’m on the road. Tuesday, after dropping off my laundry at the parents, I took a ride down to Babylon to do some practicing. I met my friend Alex down there. He was going to be bowling in the TQR and we can usually help each other. It was a successful practice session. I worked on getting my feet slower. After having to throw it as hard as you could in Baltimore, I wanted to get my tempo slower. The Shark pattern usually has a lot of oil down the lane and slow speed helps create the angle you want into the pins.
After the practice session we had a nice dinner, which is also a welcomed change from when I’m on the road. Long Island is not lacking great places to eat, any meal of the day. Usually if I ask a breakfast restaurant to make egg whites in anywhere, USA they look at me like ‘why would you want to do that?’ With the exception of Maggiano’s, the Italian food in New York is unrivaled. Only difference is it’s hard to get out of Maggiano’s for under $30 and for $15 you will have lunch for tomorrow. Ok enough about food, I’m getting hungry and I have to finish writing this!
Wednesday morning I swung by my parents place to find my laundry cleaned and folded neatly and then it was on to Babylon. Some of my friends were bowling in the TQR and I wanted to see how they were doing. I didn’t get to watch as much as I would have liked. I planned to drill a ball for the practice session and they didn’t have what I needed on the truck. I took the quick drive over to the distributor. They swapped me out a Storm Spit Fire with a better pin. We chitchatted a little bit and I was on my way. More practice on Wednesday evening let me narrow down what balls could stay in the locker room and which ones had a chance.
My girlfriend Amanda and I went to this great sushi place near our house for dinner. We were just about finishing when I got an emergency phone call. Alex was at the final table of an online poker tournament when his Internet went out!! He asked me to finish it for him, so we got the check, hurried home, and I finished 5th for him. Normal bad beat action but I won’t get into it. I just relaxed the rest of the night, watched some TV and went to bed.
Thursday is always a long day. I bowled well all day. Scores were relatively low compared to what we have been used to this half. I was able to stay away from the low games, which was key. I got to spend the break with Tim and Brenda Mack and their newborn baby. Tim has gone through a terrible injury and it’s good to see him around and competing again.
Another reason I look forward to this format is the schedule. Friday morning in the round robin format doesn’t start until 11 a.m. as compared to 9 a.m. Since we usually don’t leave the center until about 11 p.m. on Thursday it’s hard to get something to eat and get a full night sleep. I crashed after I took the short 20-minute ride home and was ready to go for Friday.
Friday definitely did not start as to plan. The lanes were much different than the previous day. The middle of the lane was not very pretty the first few games. I was forced to move to the outside part of the lane until the middle carried down. I bowled one good game playing to the right and just paced otherwise. I was very tentative on Friday morning and overall was not happy with my performance. I knew I was going to have to turn things around if I was going to make the show. Luckily because of my score on Thursday I still was close to the show going into Friday night.
Thing were beginning to look bleak after the first couple games on Friday evening. I got fooled into playing the outside part of the lane. By the time I had moved back to the middle of the lane I had given two games to the field. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to make it to the show if I was bowling scared so I try to get positive and throw the ball the way I know how. My reaction began to improve as well as my confidence. The last seven games of match play, although only going 4-3, was some of the best bowling I had done all year. I threw the ball well combined with good ball reaction and I put myself in position to make the TV show. Patrick Healey Jr. and I were virtually tied going into the last position round game. I made 12 solid shots and shot 248 to defeat his 238. It felt pretty good and it was a big relief because I had such high expectations of myself going into this week.
Saturday was a pretty slow day, I slept in and grabbed some lunch and headed over to Babylon at 4. I finished working out the Storm Agent I had drilled for the show, signed some autographs, talked with the ESPN crew, and was on my way. I met my girlfriend Amanda where she works at East Meadow Lanes. She was bartending that night and while she set up the bar I ordered some Chinese take out. I headed home after that. I turned off my phone, didn’t sign on Instant Messenger, and just watched some TV. I didn’t really want to even think about bowling on the show and didn’t want to be reminded about it every few minutes by someone wishing me luck.
I actually slept really well on Saturday night. It wasn’t at all a restless night. I didn’t want to get to the bowling center too early and just sit around. Practicing off the set is pretty pointless. The lanes are very different and I just use the practice lanes to get my feet right and my equipment feeling good.
I really liked my look on the TV pair during practice. I actually wasn’t trying to throw as many shots not to carry down too much oil. Unfortunately I didn’t come out of the gate very well and against somebody like Norm Duke that usually doesn’t work to your favor. I wasn’t very happy with my performance on TV. I know I could have made better shots. Norm was going to be tough to beat even if I bowled flawlessly. Maybe I needed somebody to yell in my backswing every shot. I struck the two times that happened.
Overall I would say the week was a success. The more you bowl on TV the more you learn about what the lights and heat do to the patterns. I felt pretty confident and comfortable on the show. I don’t feel like nerves altered my performance. I always try to take away from an event something positive even if the tournament doesn’t end on a positive note.
Thanks for reading my life on tour. I hope that you enjoyed reading about the week that was on the Denny’s PBA Tour.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.