LAS VEGAS - Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Tom Baker of King, N.C., has bowled for the title in the three consecutive United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters, but if he's going to get back to the championship match this year, the road will be a little bit longer.
Baker quickly proved he is up for the challenge by starting the 2009 event with games of 276, 249, 247, 224 and 216 for a 1,212 total and the overall lead after the first day of qualifying at South Point Bowling Center. Tom Carter of Rockford, Ill., is second with 1,204, while opening-squad leader Keith Sharp of Orlando, Fla., is third with 1,165.
As the defending champion in 2007 and 2008, Baker was seeded directly into the double-elimination match-play bracket. This time, however, because he fell to Kenny Parks of Hammond, Ind., in last year's finale, Baker must endure the 15 qualifying games while Parks looks on and waits for his chance to take the lanes for match play.
"It seems like I always bowl well in this tournament, and I don't mind having to go through qualifying because it gives me a chance to see how the lanes are going to change along the way," said Baker, who is nursing a sore back and injured foot. "I knew I wasn't 100 percent coming in today, but I bowled pretty solidly, and I'm ecstatic about that. But there are a lot of great bowlers out here, and there's such a long way to go, so I'm just going to take it one day at a time. "
Baker has been a dominant force since joining the PBA Senior Tour in 2005. His success was immediately recognized with Senior Rookie of the Year honors and four consecutive Senior Player of the Year awards from 2005-08.
The 54-year-old right-hander owns eight Senior Tour titles, including four majors, and would like to add to that total. He hopes his early momentum will carry over and help him into match play. Baker's keys to success are selecting the right equipment for the conditions, making spares and making adjustments as the lanes transition.
"To win a tournament like this, you need a few breaks along the way, but you also need to recognize what's happening on the lanes and learn what to look for from pair to pair and as the lanes break down," said Baker, who also owns 10 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titles. "The goal now is to get through qualifying and into match play, but I don't want to look too far ahead. I'll just come back tomorrow with the same game plan, which is to do the best I can."
Carter found success Monday with a little help from his friend, Wayne Webb, who won last week's PBA Senior U.S. Open.
"I sat down with Wayne last night, and we talked for a long time," Carter said. "I have been looking at the lane all wrong, and now I'm seeing it better. I also matched up pretty well today, and when you start out strong, you hope to keep it up. Luckily, I was able to do that. I'm just going to try to stay focused tomorrow and make good judgment calls. When you've got this many entries and so many styles, there are no givens and anything can happen."
All 338 Senior Masters competitors will bowl 15 qualifying games over three days, before the field is cut to the top 63, who then will join Parks in the double-elimination match-play bracket.
Qualifying continues Tuesday with squads at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Pacific.
Match play will begin Thursday morning, and all matches will consist of three games, with total pins determining the winners. The tournament champion will take home a $17,000 top prize.
For more information on the USBC Senior Masters, visit bowl.com.
United States Bowling Congress
The United States Bowling Congress, as the national governing body, ensures the integrity and protects the future of the sport, provides programs and services to nearly 2.5 million adult and youth members and enhances the bowling experience.
2009 USBC Senior Masters
At South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Qualifying Round 1
(Five games; Top 100)
1, Tom Baker, King, N.C., 1,212;
2, Tom Carter, Rockford, Ill., 1,204;
3, Keith Sharp, Orlando, Fla., 1,165;
4, Brian Brazeau, Ocala, Fla., 1,152;
5, Robert Faragon, Schenectady, N.Y., 1,141;
6, Mike Henry, Brunswick, Ohio, 1,135.
7, Bob Handley, Winter Park, Fla., 1,133;
8, Matt Surina, Everett, Wash., 1,132;
9 (tie), Ziggy Czaja, Fontana, Calif., and Ron De Groat, Las Vegas, 1,122;
11, Charlie Tapp, Portage, Mich., 1,118;
12, Larry Reynolds, Frisco, Texas, 1,117.
13, Bill Hewlett, Meridian, Idaho, 1,114.
14, Vinnie Atria, Louisville, Ky., 1,105;
15, Marc Scherlis, Littleton, Colo., 1,101;
16 (tie), Ronald Boroff, Mansfield, Texas, and Scott Hansel, Stockton, Calif., 1,100;
18 (tie), Garry Blanton, Owensboro, Ky., Christopher Keane, New City, N.Y., John Muller, Gervais, Ore., and Warren Nelson, Las Vegas, 1,096.
22, William Anthony, Converse, Texas, 1,094;
23, Kevin Foley, Reno, Nev., 1,080;
24, Barry Gurney, West Hills, Calif., 1,079;
25, Marv Sargent, Temecula, Calif., 1,075;
26, Darwin Wimer, Mesquite, Nev., 1,073;
27, John Cocchi, Las Vegas, 1,065.
28, Miguel Aguilar, Guatemala, 1,064;
29, Sam Ventura, Syracuse, N.Y., 1,064;
30, Michael Karch, Edgewood, Wash., 1,062;
31, Don Sylvia, Orlando, Fla., 1,061;
32, Bill Argenbright, Waynesboro, Va., 1,060;
33 (tie), Bob Kelly, Dayton, Ohio, and Ted Staikoff, Black Hawk, S.D., 1,058.
35, Kent Wagner, Palmetto, Fla., 1,057;
36 (tie), Roger Kossert, Lithia, Fla., and Stan Winters, Simi Valley, Calif., 1,053;
38 (tie), Gary Hiday, Indianapolis, and Ron Hosler, Denver, 1,052;
40, Yasutomo Bannai, Japan, 1,051.
41 (tie), Bruce Hall, Palo Alto, Calif., and Michael Bruce Heim, Marietta, Ga., 1,049;
43 (tie), Ron Profitt, Brookville, Ohio, and Dave Sill, Cary, Ill., 1,047;
45, Dale Traber, Cederburg, Wis., 1,046;
46, Bob Purzycki, Las Vegas, 1,045.
47, Dennis Psaropoulos, Lake Worth, Fla., 1,044;
48, Hugh Miller, Marcos Island, Wash., 1,043;
49, Wayne Webb, Sacramento, Calif., 1,040;
50 (tie), Tim Dunbar, Largo, Fla., Rod Mclean, N. Las Vegas, and Max Shellabarger, Ogden, Utah, 1,039.
53, Steve Kiss, Clackmas, Ore., 1,038;
54, Keith Kolozsi, Las Vegas, 1,033;
55 (tie), William Keenan Jr., Orlando, Fla., Pete Mc Cordic, Katy, Texas, and Jeff Suma, Auburn Hills, Mich., 1,031;
58, Harry Sullins, Chesterfield, Mich., 1,029.
59 (tie), Donald Breihan, Columbia, S.C., Henry Gonzalez, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Jim Murtishaw, Menifee, Calif., 1,024;
62 (tie), Brad Newhouse, Henderson, Nev., Les Shirwindt, Las Vegas, and Sam Zurich, Grant, Fla., 1,023;
65, Bob Priess, Las Vegas, 1,022.
66, Van Fenner, Reno, Nev., Leo Plaia, Metairie, La., and Norb Wetzel, Fond Du Lac, Wis., 1,021;
69, Daniel Emmett, Las Vegas, 1,019;
70, Edward Silva, Manteca, Calif., 1,017;
71, Russ Davies, Las Vegas, 1,016.
72, Vaughn Doody, Las Vegas, 1,015;
73, Jim Hutchinson, Ludlow Falls, Ohio, 1,014;
74 (tie), Bob Chamberlain, The Villages, Fla., and Brian Voss, Kennesaw, Ga., 1,013;
76, Scott Weston, Auburn, Mich., 1,012; 77, Charles Cannon, Green Cove Springs, Fla., 1,011.
78 (tie), Will Friedrich, Green Bay, Wis., and Greg Shields, Independence, Mo., 1,009;
80, Paul Herrera, San Jose, Calif., 1,008; 81, Skip Pavone, San Jose, Calif., 1,007;
82 (tie), Ross Packard, San Jose, Calif., Mark Scime, Winter Garden, Fla., and Mitch Vernon, Olympia, Wash., 1,006.
85, Willie Wells, Garland, Texas, 1,005;
86, Nick Morgan, Sacramento, Calif., 1,003;
87, Kevin Croucher, Grants Pass, Ore., 1,001;
88, Duane Podgorski, Lakeland, Fla., 1,000;
89 (tie), Bob Bohler, St. Louis, Steve Ferraro, Kingston, N.Y., 999;
91, Gary Skidmore, Albuquerque, N.M., 998.
92, Kenneth Racette, San Diego, 997;
93 (tie), Jim Micus, Renton, Wash., Ron Mohr, Eagle River, Alaska, and Douglas Talsma, Las Vegas, 996;
96 (tie), Michael Lucente, Warren, Mich., Michael Monyak, Las Vegas, and Bill Nichols, Roseville, Calif., 993;
99 (tie), George Lord, Mulberry, Fla., and Mark Williams, Beaumont, Texas, 992.