The first two tournaments didn't go as well as I had hoped. First, we bowled in the PBA Badger Open at Waukesha Lanes, a wood bowling center. We competed on the new Badger oil pattern which is 52 feet in length and is the longest of the PBA patterns. As with many longer patterns, I played near the middle part of the lane using a Columbia 300 Enigma. Although I missed the cut in this tournament, I was very happy with how consistent my scores were - high game 238, low game 190, shooting +171 for the 10 games of qualifying. I finished 35th overall.
The next tournament - The PBA Wolf Open, was contested at AMF West Lanes. The new PBA Wolf oil pattern is only 32 feet in length and is the shortest of the PBA oil patterns. Going from one extreme to the other in pattern lengths meant that we had to completely change where we were playing on the lane, as well as make speed and release changes. For this pattern, I played the extreme outside part of the lane, trying to get my breakpoint to 1-2 down lane, so that the ball was almost teetering in the gutter. Unfortunately, I felt that I didn't execute as well as I could have during this tournament and shot +139 overall for the 10 games of qualifying, which put me in 42nd place in the tournament, again missing the cut.
Due to the fact that the first two tournaments didn't go as well as planned, I did get to take in the sights of Milwaukee. Scott Norton and I took a tour at the Miller Brewery, which was pretty interesting to see how they actually make beer. I don't drink beer, but nonetheless still interesting.
We also visited the site of the oldest sanctioned bowling lanes in the world - The Holler House, which consists of two lanes in the basement of an old bar. The bowling lanes still use pin boys to spot the pins, so you must call ahead of time if you want to bowl. We didn't actually bowl, but we did have an amazing time with the owner - Marcy.
We also had time on the actual "off" day to take in a baseball game at Miller Park and watch the Brewers take on the Pirates. The Brewers ended up losing the game, but it was still a fun time. Also on our day off, we visited the coolest bar/restaurant I've ever been to. If you are ever in the Milwaukee area, you MUST visit the SafeHouse. This spy themed bar/restaurant, complete with a secretive entrance and all of the pomp and circumstance you can imagine was completely flawless for pulling off the secretive "spy" world. Can't say more than that, you just have to go there and experience it for yourself! :)
So, on to the last of the three main PBA events for the PBA Summer Swing - The Bear Open, which was contested at Bowlero Lanes. The new Bear oil pattern is a 40 foot flat pattern, meaning that the lane conditions are very difficult and hitting your mark and picking up spares are a premium. I used a Columbia 300 Omen during a majority of qualifying. I played the lanes incorrectly to start and then decided I was not going to play further right than 13/14 at the arrows. I played a pretty tight inside angle, very similar to how I played the PBA U.S. Open last year when I made matchplay at Carolier Lanes in NJ.
I shot games of 171, 223, 227, 255 and 196 for +72 the first set. I was close to the top 24 cut after 5 games and needed to stay strong. The next 5 games of qualifying, the lanes were even tougher due to tighter backends, making the carry suffer a bit and making it harder to hit the pocket. I shot games of 186, 190, 192 and then finished big with a 235 and 215 to squeeze into the cut number with +90. It ended up taking +74 to make the cut.
Even though I had a good day, +90 wasn't quite enough for me to qualify for the overall top 28 in the PBA Milwaukee Open. I finished 32nd and missed the cut to that tournament by only 28 pins.
The next day we bowled 16 games of round robin matchplay with 30 bonus pins awarded for each match win. I again used my Columbia 300 Omen as well as my Columbia 300 Enigma. I started off strong shooting 243, 190, 209, 254, 232 and 247 being 4-2 in matchplay. I had moved into the top 5 and had gotten as high as 3rd place in the overall standings. I then lost shooting 190 and ended on a bad note having some execution problems the last game shooting 158.
Going into the final 8 games of matchplay, I was in 9th place and 63 pins out of the top 5. I drilled another Columbia 300 Omen, pin up to use towards the end of the block. I started out the block with 3 losses shooting 198, 214 and 178. Then I decided enough was enough and started bowling really well, shooting games of 241, 243 and 246, winning all three matches. I had made it back into the top 5 with two games to go. Then I moved down to the low end of the house and hit an atrocious pair. I couldn't stay out of trouble, leaving splits and couldn't figure out one of the lanes. I had a disastrous game at the worst possible time, shooting 154 which knocked me into 10th place and 31 pins off the show going into the position round.
The last game, there were 6 people in range of obtaining the final spot on the TV show. I knew that I needed to just throw great shots and hope that the pins fell my way. I started out with the front 3 strikes and then left a 10 pin. I never missed the pocket, but couldn't seem to string any more strikes together shooting 213 and winning my match, but coming in 7th place overall. Tom Hess, who was in 8th place going into the position round and 16 pins out of the top 5, started out with the front 8 strikes shooting a 268 to earn the final 5th spot on the TV show.
Although I missed the TV show which was upsetting and disappointing, I was still happy with my performance, finishing 8-8 in matchplay and only 70 pins from the TV show. Finishing 7th is now my new high at a PBA Tour National event. My previous high was tied for 9th place at the 2012 USBC Masters. So I can't be upset about that.
All in all a roller coaster of a week, but at least I ended on a good note.
Until next time...