Elusive PBA Tournament of Champions Crown Still Missing From Walter Ray Williams Jr.’s Resume

by Jerry Schneider January 16, 2010 04:17

A look at the stellar list of PBA Tournament of Champions winners can be considered a snapshot of bowling greatness.  But one of the names that stands out as missing from that list is Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr.

As the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour's leader in career titles with 46, the only major accomplishment he hasn’t achieved is a Tournament of Champions title.

Williams will be competing in the 45th Tournament of Champions along with 62 other players in a battle for one of professional bowling’s most prestigious crowns Jan. 19-24 at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.  The finals will be televised live on ESPN on Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Pacific).

First conducted in 1962, the Tournament of Champions was created to showcase the Tour’s elite. The ticket into the event has always been based on winning a PBA title.

For Williams, a Tournament of Champions win would set off a domino effect into ultra-elite status among PBA players.  He has already won the PBA World Championship (2001, 2003 and 2006), U.S. Open (1998 and 2003), United States Bowling Congress Masters (2004) and PBA Touring Players Championship (1994), so a Tournament of Champions victory would mean completion of the PBA's Triple Crown, Grand Slam and Super Slam.

Only five PBA players have won a PBA World Championship, U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions - Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia, Pete Weber, Mike Aulby and Norm Duke. Aulby and Duke are the only ones to add a Masters title to complete the Grand Slam. Aulby is the lone Super Slam member, including the Touring Players Championship (an event no longer conducted).

“I definitely have to be bowling well to have a chance,” said Williams, who has won a PBA Tour title in a record 17 consecutive seasons.  "In passing I think about winning it (the Tournament of Champions), but I don’t have nightmares. It would be nice. It’s one of those things I’m missing, but I have no disappointments about my career. It would be another feather.”

“I want to bowl well in every event. I know some guys put more importance on majors, but I try to win every tournament I play in.”

Williams' best previous Tournament of Champions finish was second in 1989 when he lost to Del Ballard Jr., 254-218, in the championship match. Still going strong at age 50, the six-time PBA Player of the Year won his 46th title in the Motor City Open during the PBA World Series of Bowling, the first event of the 2009-10 season.

The Tournament of Champions is open exclusively to Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exempt-player champions; the winners of the most recent PBA Regional Players Championship and Regional Players Invitational; the USBC Masters winner; the USBC Senior Masters, PBA Senior U.S. Open and PBA Senior World Championship winners; all Tournament of Champions past winners, PBA Hall of Famers, and for the first time, the PBA Women’s World Championship titlist (Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J.).

Additional in-depth coverage of the PBA Tournament of Champions and all Tour events is available by subscribing to pba.com’s Xtra Frame video service. Subscription information is available by visiting pba.com/xtraframe.

PBA Tournament of Champions Winners

1962     Joe Joseph

1963     not held

1964     not held

1965     Billy Hardwick

1966     Wayne Zahn

1967     Jim Stefanich

1968     Dave Davis

1969     Jim Godman

1970     Don Johnson

1971     Johnny Petraglia

1972     Mike Durbin

1973     Jim Godman

1974     Earl Anthony

1975     Dave Davis

1976     Marshall Holman

1977     Mike Berlin

1978     Earl Anthony

1979     George Pappas

1980     Wayne Webb

1981     Steve Cook

1982     Mike Durbin

1983     Joe Berardi

1984     Mike Durbin

1985     Mark Williams

1986     Marshall Holman

1987     Pete Weber

1988     Mark Williams

1989     Del Ballard Jr.

1990     Dave Ferraro

1991     David Ozio

1992     Marc McDowell

1993     George Branham

1994     Norm Duke

1995     Mike Aulby

1996     Dave D’Entremont

1997     John Gant

1998     Bryan Goebel

1999     Jason Couch

2000     Jason Couch

2001     not held

2002-03  Jason Couch

2003-04  Patrick Healey  Jr.

2004-05  Steve Jaros

2005-06  Chris Barnes

2006-07  Tommy Jones

2007-08  Mike Haugen Jr.

2008-09  Patrick Allen

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