Saturday, February 21, 2009

The USBC Masters

This year had a new venue for the USBC Masters ! Instead of traveling to the cold Midewest location of Milwaukee, WI (complete with a Brewer stadium finale), we instead moved west to Sin City - Las Vegas, NV for the third Major of the PBA Tour season.

The venue was also brand new - the Cashman Center, situated just North of the Downtown Las Vegas area. Sixty lanes were installed in the once home of a minor league baseball stadium- turned convention center. The Masters marked the first bowling event to take place inside the venue. Immediately following the completion of the Masters, the 60 bowling lanes will then be the site for the USBC Men's National Championships which will run through July '09. After which, the lanes will also house the Women's World Championships in late July.

There were 465 bowlers from all over the states and the world. Courtesy of the Megabuck tournaments completing in Las Vegas the weekend before the Masters, many international bowlers choose to stay and compete in the Masters.

The lanes proved to be difficult as usual, especially if you were rev challenged (like myself). If you saw the scores of the Masters and actually scrolled down low enough, then you saw that I bowled pretty terrible that week. My first block I shot a decent -7 on the burn shot (not re-oiled lanes).

It was a completely different story on the fresh the next day. Not only did I physically bowl about as bad as I could bowl (without missing single-pin spares), I also had no where to throw the ball. matter if I played hard and straight anywhere from 4-12 board or moved inside into 4th arrow or deeper and hooked the ball, nothing worked. So needless to say I left a lot of splits and hard spares.

However, this a good example that everyone has bad days and everyone gets into slumps, including the pros. So the next time you have a bad league night or struggle a little in a tournament, just remember that you are not alone. Try to think of ways that you could have bowled better and learn from every bowling outting, including the bad ones.

Even though the bowling didn't go as well as planned, it was still a fun week in Las Vegas. See the pictures above.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dick Weber Open in Fountain Valley, CA

This week I competed in the Dick Weber Open at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, CA. This unique, retro, open-field event has its own oil pattern-the Dick Weber pattern. With the tournament being only 10 miles from my house. It was definitely nice to be able to compete and sleep in my own bed!

Each year the Dick Weber pattern plays pretty difficult and this year was no exception. Crucial shot making was a must and versatility was a definite benefactor. The pattern played a lot drier than normal, even when the lanes were freshly oiled. This made the lanes extremely difficult for the grueling break-down block that each bowler had to complete.

There were really only two places to play on the lane - way out (around 5-6 board) or way in (lofting the left gutter cap for most of the guys).

The format consists of three 5-game blocks. The first day each squad bowls one 5-game block on fresh oil and then one 5-game block on the burnt down lane conditions of the squad before (no re-oil). Then the next day consists of one more 5-game block on fresh oil to complete 15 games of qualifying. After the 15 games, the field is then cut to the top 24 players who bowl 24 games of round robin match play with the top five determining the stepladder finals TV show.

Since I was on B squad, I had to bowl my first block on the burnt lanes. I started out swinging 18 and then kept moving inside from there. By the end, I was throwing it really hard and playing about 25 at the arrows. It wasn't very long during that block before the guys were standing in front of the ball return, taking three steps and lofting the left gutter cap. I ended the block at +1.

Then I bowled my first block on the fresh oil. I got off to a great start, but then hit a really bad pair. (And by really bad, I mean REALLY REALLY bad.) I ended up shooting 132 my 4th game, leaving 5 splits and used three different bowling balls and played way in and way out. After that block I was -51 overall.

So needless to say the first day didn't go as well as excepted. I had decided to play inside the entire day, which didn't work out as well for me. So then next day, for my last 5-game block, I decided to have a different game plan.

I played outside, throwing it hard and really straight and started off on fire, shooting +90 after three games. Then the lanes changed and I had to move way inside and start hooking the ball again and didn't make up enough ground to cash. I ended up +25 overall for qualifying and it took +105 to cash and +180 to make the top 24.

My roommate Shalin Zulkifli was the lone female to cash in the event and no women or lefties made the top 24 match play finals.

Stay tuned for the LIVE ESPN finals tomorrow, Feb. 8th.