In the first of seven PBA World Series of Bowling telecasts on ESPN, Detroit area favorite Harry Sullins ended a 15-year winless dry spell by winning the resurrected PBA Senior World Championship at Thunderbowl Lanes.
Sullins, who won his fifth and last PBA Tour title in 1994 in Windsor Locks, Conn., defeated Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Wash., 222-192, for a $15,000 prize, his first PBA Senior Tour title and a berth in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions. The PBA Senior World Championship was resurrected as a part of the new PBA World Series of Bowling after lying dormant since 2002.
“It feels great,” Sullins said. “I’ll be glad to go back to the Tournament of Champions.”
Admittedly nervous, Sullins confessed, “It’s been almost 11 years between TV shows, 15 years since I’ve won a title. You try to stay as calm as you can. Some guys might say they don’t get butterflies, but I don’t care who you are – you get ‘em. The question is, how much pressure can you take and still move your feet, swing your arm, roll the ball and hit what you’re throwing at? It worked out.
“The difference was I made all my spares,” he continued. “That keeps the pressure on. It kept me 19-20 pins ahead the whole match. I threw two strikes in a row twice early in the game and that was huge. I could tell Hugh was trying to figure out which ball to use, so kept telling myself, just get a double.”
Sullins felt like the title was his for the taking after he was warmly greeted by the Detroit area fans attending the finals in a center where he had honed his game for years.
“I’ve bowled at Thunderbowl for 30 years,” Sullins said, “but when we came out for the introductions, I actually had the fans with me. That was so pleasing. It was like, it’s my time to win.”
It was also rewarding for a long-time PBA Tour competitor who made a less-than-satisfying debut on the Senior Tour the previous season.
“I wanted to come out full blast last year,” the 52-year-old Michigan native said. “I had big goals – rookie of the year, all of that – but I went out to the west coast and didn’t do so well. In the Senior U.S. Open I threw my elbow out, so I wound up missing the whole balance of the season.
“This year I had a different outlook. I wanted to start strong in Jackson (Mich.), but I got a job with the U.S. Census Bureau. I hadn’t had a job in three years, so I decided the seniors could wait. I wound up staying home and bowled the Regional Players Championship at Thunderbowl, which gave me an edge to get ready for the Senior Tour and for the World Series. In the six Senior Tour events I did bowl, I had four championship round appearances including a win and a second. So I’m happy.”
PBA SENIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich.
Championship – Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Township, Mich. ($15,000) def. Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Wash. ($7,500), 222-192.