Bowling is never far from my mind. Almost daily I have a plethora of thoughts about this game: League ideas, tournament ideas, and my own ambitions as a bowler.
I’ll be turning 29 in April and will be making my first trip to the USBC Open Championships at the end of April. Along with being truly excited to participate on that stage, I’m also polluting my mind with thoughts of how much my performance there may mean for my future in bowling.
I’m certainly not coming to the end of my bowling career, but how much longer do I have before I realize I’ve peaked? As much as I know that one event isn’t a true measure of one’s ability, I’m not sure how many more trips I’ll have in me to test these waters against a large and talented amateur field.
I certainly intend on having a good time. Enjoying the company of my teammates and friends and reuniting myself with the National Bowling Stadium is something I'm looking forward to. Hopefully I make good decisions on the lanes, good shots, and convert those pesky spares. All things considered, I’ll be really happy if I average 200 over the course of the event. Not only because I think it’s a reasonable goal, but because I've got a lunch bet with my brother on it.
The pros (and most of the world's best amateurs) were there at the Stadium last week and put on another great show Sunday, with Walter Ray Williams Jr. winning his 47th career title. Hopefully, my visit to bowling's version of St Paul's Cathedral will yield similar magic...and those of you who are planning to attend the USBC Open Championship some time this year find your own magic as well.
THE BIG FOUR
1. Is it possible that Walter Ray will get to 50 titles while he’s still 50?
2. I actually feel bad for Chris Barnes. In the last three tournaments, he’s qualified for the show as the top seed twice only to have his opponent’s average better than 275 against him. Did anyone else notice he wasn’t wearing his maroon jersey on the show? I think this was the first time since they started wearing these jerseys that he hasn’t worn the maroon one on TV.
3. Parker Bohn is in the top 40 in points. It was just a few weeks ago he was on the outside looking in at possibly losing his exemption. The other player referenced in that blog has made it back onto page one in 50th place only 5,000 points out of the top 40.
4. I always like a local touch to my big four and this week is no different. The commissioner of Anchorage’s high school bowling program, Chris Clapper, is retiring after 10 years of voluntarily running the program, which he developed back in 2000. Over the years, he’s turned it from a club sport into a letter sport in the Anchorage School District. With sanctioned bowling in decline nationwide, this man actually developed and grew bowling in our community. And because of his insight, personal drive, and dedication to the game, the Anchorage bowling community is better off today.
MY TOP TEN: (Most recent Tournament finish in Parenthesis. Last tournament completed was the USBC Masters.)
1) Walter Ray Williams, Jr. (1st) 2nd at the Dick Weber Open and 1st at the USBC Masters. First in points. First in earnings. First in Player of the Year points. First on my list.
2) Chris Barnes (2nd) 2nd to Walter in
just about every statistical category and 2nd to him at the Masters. I still would like to see him lose twice though before losing the tournament like everyone else in match play.
3) Wes Malott (10th) Having a good run of it lately.
4) Tommy Jones (34th) Third best player that hasn’t won this year behind Barnes and Malott.
5) Rhino Page (38th) Best lefty on Tour.
6) Mike Scroggins (4th) 2nd best lefty on Tour.
7) Bill O’Neill (5th) Finally put together two back to back top 5 finishes.
8) Sean Rash (95th) Having a bad run of late missing match play in three consecutive tournaments.
9) Jason Belmonte (8th) If I gave credit for winning the Chris Paul tournament he’d be up a little higher. Especially considering he had to throw plastic around Hines Ward’s landing area on the right lane.
10) Mike Fagan (39th) First individual title at the Dick Weber tournament. Well earned and a long time coming.