June 3, 2008 19:00
By Jerry Schneider, USBC
When PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker competes in the 2008 USBC Senior Masters, he hopes to become the event’s first three-time winner, not to mention being the first to win three years in a row.
The 2008 Senior Masters will be conducted June 9-13 at Golden Pin Lanes in Tucson, Ariz., and Baker will be one of nearly 300 of the world’s best senior competitors ages 50 and older competing in the season’s first senior major. As defending champion, Baker will not have to qualify and will be seeded directly into match play.
Baker, who has eight PBA Senior Tour titles including a record four majors, admits to often getting off to a slow start whether it be the Senior Tour or the Denny’s PBA Tour, where he also competes. But he plans to be in top form for the Senior Masters.
“I seem to struggle on both tours at the start and there always seems to be an adjustment period for the first part of each season,” said Baker, who also owns 10 regular tour titles including one major, the
2004 PBA World Championship. “I’ve been fortunate that my game always seems to come around in time for the majors.”
For the Senior Masters, the field will bowl 15 games of qualifying in three five-game blocks stretched over three days (June 9, 10 and 11).
The field will then be cut to the top 63 players who will join Baker in the three-game double-elimination match play round. Practice and pro-ams will be conducted June 8.
While Baker has had what he describes as a mediocre Senior Tour season thus far, he will have to be in top form as the PBA Senior U.S. Open presented by the Suncoast immediately follows the Senior Masters at the Suncoast Bowling Center in Las Vegas. Both events have demanding formats.
“I’ve been doing a lot of practice and working out so I know I will be ready for these tournaments which have long and challenging formats,” Baker said. “I always find a way to hit the pocket so it will be a matter of making the right adjustments at the right time and getting some breaks.”
Many other bowling greats have won the Senior Masters over its 15-year history. They include USBC and PBA Hall of Famers Gary Dickinson (2004, 1997); Pete Couture (2002, 1998); Dave Soutar (2000), and Dave Davis, the only other bowler to win in back-to-back years (1995, 1996).
Other notables who will be competing are 1994 USBC Masters Champion and USBC Hall of Famer Steve Fehr; 2005 Senior Masters champion Vince Mazzanti Jr.; USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Teata Semiz; PBA Hall of Famer John Petraglia; PBA Hall of Famer Roy Buckley; 2003 Senior Masters champion Dale Eagle; 1996 Masters champion, USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Ernie Schlegel; 1981 Masters champion Randy Lightfoot; USBC Hall of Famer Bob Chamberlain and USBC Chief Operating Officer Kevin Dornberger.
The first Senior Masters, conducted in 1993 in Tulsa, Okla., was won by Phil Ware of Knoxville, Tenn., who defeated Frankie May of Reading, Pa., 238-237.
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