BATON ROUGE, La — Nine of the 10 bowlers in our Turbo 2-N-1 Grips group plus friend Chris Gibbons (top 10 in USBC Open Championships all-events) traveled to Metro Bowl on Friday morning to bowl the 1-2-3 tournament.
Turbo 1 was assigned to lanes 21-22 and Turbo 2 with Gibbons instead of a resting Tom Howery lanes 19-20.
We attacked the lanes with our game plan for the Open Championships: fairly rough surface balls up around 5-board in practice and to start and then balling down and moving in slowly. We quickly opened up a decent shot just inside 5-board and kept opening it up as we bowled, ending crossing about 10 or just inside of 10. With five on a pair this was about equivalent to the middle of the second game.
The biggest issue we had was the approaches, which were very tacky and led to some bad spare shooting and some off first balls.
In addition, our carry was mostly poor. I, for example, missed the pocket four times in three games — two buckets, a 4-6-7 and a 3-6 — and managed just 639 (201-216-222) with the only opens being the split and a missed 7-pin.
Mike Shady led our group with 710 (234-240-236) with a pair of 10-pin misses — I don't think he's missed two 10-pins in nearly 15 years of bowling with our group! Marc McDowell rolled 626 (192-236-198), Gail Myers Jr. 612 (231-205-176) and Steve Richter 604 (213-165-226).
On the other pair, Gibbons fired 654 (211-233-210), Dan Goepfert 601 (180-244-193), John Wittkowske 586 (210-180-196), Mike Walters 558 (177-188-193) and Bret Faulkner 502 (187-162-153).
When we left, I joked that I’d like to take another shot at the pair we just came off of, knowing how nice it was and what potentially we could shoot on it.
Turns out, my thinking was dead-on, as on Friday afternoon back at the Belle of Baton Rouge, Jeff Fehr came up and goosed me and said, “Thanks.”
He had bowled on 21-22 and shot 756, while Ken Abner bowled on 19-20 and shot 715, and their 1,471 easily took the 1-2-3 doubles lead.
I congratulated him and joked that he owed me a beer later.
Seriously, this shows how the side events have the same issue as the Open Championships: there needs to be fresh oil for all squads.
Fehr and his group did nothing wrong following us on those pairs and deserve whatever they win.
But it should never have been possible for them to start with the burn condition they did — every squad of the 1-2-3, BTM and Bowlers Journal tournaments should start with the same fresh pattern.
The good thing we took out of Friday morning is more reinforcement for our game plan.
If — and this is a huge if — the lanes at the Baron Rouge River Center play close to what we saw at Metro Bowl and have seen in multiple practice sessions, we believe we have a shot at taking the lead for the fourth straight year.
Given a close look, decent execution and spare shooting, and smart adjustments, the only issue will be carry. I’m certain we can get 1,075 or better the first game and 2,350 the last two in some fashion if we get all that.
But those are comically huge "ifs" and we could just as easily not have any to all of those factors and have a 2008 — the last year we had a poor team event.
Whatever happens, this is the best bowling day of the year to me. There is nothing like team bowling and the Open Championships is the biggest team event there is.
Now if I could just find an anti-adrenaline pill for that first game!
Note: Matt Cannizzaro texted me Friday afternoon with the information that Bo Goergen's group moved from Friday/Saturday to May 27/28.