July 30, 2007 19:00
It took a lot of convincing from a lot of different parties for Jimmy Johnson to compete in his first career PBA Senior Tour event this week, but so far it’s looking like he made the right decision.
Bowling with a brace covering his entire left arm following recent surgery, Johnson led the field after the first day of qualifying with a 1,938 eight-game pinfall in the 2007 PBA Senior Council Bluffs Open at Thunderbowl.
Just a month ago, Johnson tore a tendon in his left arm while water skiing which required surgery to reattach the tendon. Prior to bowling Tuesday, he had his cast removed and replaced with the brace. He was unable to pick up the ball with both hands, but was mostly unaffected by the inability to use his left arm.
“The toughest thing is not being able to pick the ball up with both hands. I have to get my grip on the ball return and then lift it up with one hand,” Johnson (Bellevue, Neb.) said. “A lot of people questioned whether balance would be a factor but that hasn’t been as much of a problem as I thought it would be.”
Johnson started his day with a 213 before averaging 256 over the next four games. He had his lowest game of the day in game six with a 187 but rebounded with a 288 in game seven. Johnson needed a 225 in the final game to pass the first squad leader, Vince Mazzanti Jr. A strike on his fill ball gave him 226 and the one-pin lead.
The 52-year-old is no stranger to success at Thunderbowl as he captured his only PBA title in a PBA Regional Tour even in 2005 at the center. He credits the encouragement of Denny’s PBA Tour champion Rick Steelsmith, part-owner of Thunderbowl Ted Baer and Johnson’s fiancé, Brenda Stevens who is the manager of Thunderbowl, for convincing him to compete.
“I bowled in the regional here this weekend and missed the cash by 12 pins. I hadn’t planned on bowling this event unless I cashed in the regional but the people who believed in me talked me into it,” Johnson said. “It’s easy to doubt yourself if you’re not having a lot of success but it’s neat when you have people believing in you and it tells me that I should believe in myself, too.”
Mazzanti (Levittown, Pa.), who is looking to bounce back after two difficult years since breaking a toe, had a consistent day Tuesday. He fired five games in the 240s with a high game of 279 in game seven to finish with 1,937. The three-time PBA Senior Tour champion is looking for his first title since the 2005 USBC Senior Masters.
Mike Dias (Lafayette, Colo.) is just one pin behind Mazzanti in third with 1,936, while Tom Cater (Rockford, Ill.), who fired one of two perfect games on the day, is fourth with 1,914.
The field of 93 will bowl another eight-game block Wednesday after which the field will be cut to the top 32 bowlers for Thursday’s match play. The final two bowlers will square off for the $8,000 top prize Thursday evening at Thunderbowl at 6 p.m. CST.
It's been a good week for Mazzanti, who was just named Bucks County's (Pa.) greatest bowler of all time, according to the Bucks County Courier Times. Mazzanti beat out a PBA legend in Fred Lening, who was a charter member of the PBA and won the first-ever televised PBA Tour event in 1962, as well as another former PBA member, Vince Lucci Sr. Lening and Lucci were ranked third and second on the list, respectively.
As told by Tom Gamble, Mazzanti has been the most dominating bowler in Bucks County, combing power and accuracy for the last 30 years and has thrived on all lane conditions, using rubber, plastic, urethane and reactive resin balls. His local honors include five county titles and a record 14 nods on the Lower Bucks All-Star teams. A member of the PBA for more than 30 years, he owns 16 PBA Regional Tour titles to go along with his PBA Senior Tour titles. In 2002 he was named the PBA Senior Rookie of the Year.
Johnson was full of thank yous on Tuesday. In addition to thanking Steelsmith, Baer and Stevens, he also gave thanks for his first bowling coach, Darrell Umscheid and friend Dennis Butler.
Steelsmith, Johnson said, is the one who has really helped his game in recent years, focusing mostly on his arm swing and his mental game. They are both natives of Manhattan, Kansas.
"That's where he came up through the youth leagues. I thought I was the hot shot around there and then I kept hearing about this Steelsmith kid and I was like 'who is this new kid who's supposed to be so good,'" Johnson said. "Well, then I saw him bowl and he was that good and he just kept on going."
PBA Senior Tour
PBA Senior Council Bluffs Open
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Tuesday, July 31
ROUND ONE QUALIFYING
(Pos., name, hometown, eight-game pinfall.)
1, Jimmy Johnson, Bellevue, Neb., 1,938.
2, Vince Mazzanti Jr., Levittown, Pa., 1,937.
3, Mike Dias, Lafayette, Colo., 1,936.
4, Tom Carter, Rockford, Ill., 1,914.
5, Gary Smith, E. Peoria, Ill., 1,898.
6, Don Sylvia, Discovery Bay, Calif., 1,862.
7, Dale Traber, Cedarburg, Wis., 1,854.
8, Roger Kossert, Lithia, Fla., 1,846.
9, (TIE) John Shreve Sr., Elyria, Ohio, and Keith Sharp, Orlando, Fla., 1,841.
11, Gary Dickinson, Edmond, Okla., 1,836.
12, Kevin Croucher, Grants Pass, Ore., 1,827.
13, Ronald Krippelcz, St. Louis, 1,815.
14, Greg Shields, Independence, Mo., 1,811.
15, (TIE) George Lord, Lakeland, Fla., and Dave Patchen, Oregon, Ohio, 1,808.
17, Matt Buxton, Jefferson City, Mo., 1,804.
18, Rich Holden, Chinchilla, Pa., 1,803.
19, David Ozio, Beaumont, Texas, 1,794.
20, Barry Gurney, West Hills, Calif., 1,786.
21, Robert Holzbauer, Madison, Wis., 1,782.
22, (TIE) Sam Zurich, Grant, Fla., and Perry Keplinger, Amherst, Ohio, 1,772.
24, Bob Brady, Santa Monica, Calif., 1,771.
25, Jerry Swank, Chouteau, Okla., 1,765.
26, Jim Knoblauch, Waukesha, Wis., 1,756.
27, Patrick King, Yankton, S.D., 1,747.
28, Fred Cole, Visalia, Calif, 1,731.
29, Terry Norton, Omaha, Neb, 1,726.
30, Dale Eagle, Tavares, Fla., 1,718.
31, Fred Kaczmarczyk, Martinez, Calif, 1,717.
32, Bob Chamberlain, The Villages, Fla., 1,714.
33, Michael Henry, Brunswick, Ohio, 1,713.
34, Randy Niehaus, Rockford, Ill., 1,709.
35, Chuck Pierce, Dallas, 1,706.
36, (TIE) Bob Kelly, Dayton, Ohio, and Timothy Kauble, Marion, Ohio, 1,698.
38, (TIE) Bill Henson, Westerville, Ohio, and Shannon Starnes, Fort Worth, Texas, 1,691.
40, Lucien Casagrande, Canada, 1,690.
41, Larry Galloway, Fresno, Calif., 1,684.
42, (TIE) Darrell Adams, Flintstone, Ga., and Bill McCorkle, Westerville, Ohio, 1,681.
44, (TIE) Michael Evans, Hutchinson, Kans, and Bob Oakes, Akron, Ohio, 1,680.
46, Robert McDonald, Addison, Ill., 1,677.
47, Paul Mielens, Menomonie, Wis., 1,673.
48, (TIE) Henry Gonzalez, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Lee Rautenberg, Boca Raton, Fla., 1,670.
50, Steven Jansson, Barnes, Wis., 1,669.
51, Ron Garr, Ridgedale, Mo., 1,664.
52, (TIE) John Sharkey, Rapid City, S.D., and Frank Gallo Jr., Newport News, VA., 1,661.
54, Rohn Morton, Vancouver, Wash., 1,650.
55, (TIE) James Brenner, LeClaire, Iowa, and Richard Latvala, Eagan, Minn., 1,648.
57, Sidney Smith, Omaha, Neb., 1,636.
58, (TIE) Dave Soutar, Bradenton, Fla., and D.A. Carbone, Broomfield, Colo., 1,626.
60, Jay Aono, Boise, Idaho, 1,619.
61, (TIE) Dale Diamond, Springfield, Ill., and Marc Lineberry, Camanche, Iowa, 1,616.
63, Michael Chrzanowski, Shepherd, Mich., 1,614.
64, Dave Gualeni, Gladstone, Mo., 1,604.
65, Mel Wolf, Jackson, Mich., 1,600.
66, Robert Teeters, Lapel, Ind., 1,598.
67, Leo Plaia, New Orleans, 1,591.
68, William Keenan, Jr., Orlando, Fla., 1,589.
69, Dan Duskin Sr, Atlantic, Iowa, 1,579.
70, Jerry Lau, St. Peters, Mo., 1,575.
71, Thomas Kelley Sr., Omaha, Neb., 1,572.
72, George Hall, Palatine, Ill., 1,570.
73, Ron Woodruff, Emporia, Kan., 1,569.
74, Ken Waters, Kingsport, Tenn., 1,557.
75, Dave Bernhardt, Shelby Twp., Mich., 1,556.
76, David Axon, Bellevue, Neb, 1,551.
77, Richard Hunt, Valparaiso, Ind., 1,542.
78, Mike Polreis, Sioux Falls, S.D., 1,538.
79, Frank Fiscello, Bloomfield, N.J., 1,535.
80, Steve Stein, Staten Island, N.Y., 1,523.
81, Richard Nardozza, Clearfield, Pa., 1,519.
82, Daniel Miner, East Moline, Ill., 1,501.
83, Pete Heim, Omaha, Neb., 1,496.
84, James Scott, Villa Park, Ill, 1,488.
85, Chuck Huckelberry, Rockford, Ill., 1,476.
86, Keith Hennricks, Green Bay, Wis., 1,450.
87, Daniel Osborn, Beatrice, Neb, 1,442.
88, Will Friedrich, Green Bay, Wis., 1,422.
89, Jim Wynne Sr., Bemidji, Minn., 1,412.
90, Fred Baldwin, Sturgis, Mich, 1,408.
91, John Twitchell, Ankeny, Iowa, 1,362.
92, Robert Hoddick, Kansas City, Mo, 1,356.
93, Steven Wiles, Carthage, Mo., 1,268.
300 games (2) – Matt Buxton, Tom Carter.
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