I always preach that as a bowler it’s best to be process oriented instead of results oriented.
Bowling is so inherently unfair in some respects that being results oriented inevitably leads to mental issues like excessive frying.
In the title match of the PBA Midwest Region Premiere Bowling & Entertainment Cheetah Open in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, on Sunday, my process was very good but my results left me a pin shy of Dave Traber.
Which is why I could only smile and shake my head afterward — I performed well when it counted and there’s nothing else you can do as a bowler.
Lanes 15 and 16 were the title pair and they were hooking a ton more than semifinal pair 13 and 14, making for a crazy title match.
Dave told me after the match that he couldn’t move in more and just had to fire it. I had switched to my one-finger shot (leaving my ring finger out of the ball) for the stepladder finals and had no problem skidding it in wins over Parker Bohn III and Eugene McCune, but against Traber it was another story.
I had moved in a couple of boards during practice, but punched the face in both the second and fourth frames on lane 14 despite moving another board in the fourth. I left one 6-7-10 I couldn’t convert. Dave also punched the face once but left only the 6-10, which he converted.
I finally moved another board on each lane and ran a 4-bagger heading into the 10th as Dave left a couple of brutal ring 10-pins in the 9th and on the second ball in the 10th after opening the 10th with a strike to end with 216.
That meant I needed the first strike in my 10th to be in the 220s or 9-spare and strike for a 216-216 tie.
My 10th was on lane 14, which was hooking even more than 13. My first ball was a great shot but a tad slow and I left a 4-pin.
After converting the spare, I threw a great shot that left a ring 10-pin for a tough 216-215 loss.
Dave earned $2,500 for the win, while I settled for $1,400 for second.
Since it was the first time I’d bowled for a PBA title in a few years and I threw good shots when I needed them, I could hardly be upset. Disappointed for sure. But proud of my process.
And truthfully, I was very fortunate to even have the chance in the stepladder.
After tying for the qualifying lead, I started Sunday losing my first three matches, falling from first to ninth. The second loss was a crazy game against Don Breeden where I only needed a mark to win and lost the ball off my hand almost directly in the gutter (playing an outside line on the Cheetah pattern). I could have spared to win but left a solid 9-pin on the second ball.
The next game I rolled a credible 226 but lost to a 299 by Josh Hepp.
On Saturday, I’d bowled about the first half of qualifying going very straight up outside 5-board with a Storm TROPICAL BREEZE, then switched to a FRANTIC and played a circle shot going from between 10 and 15 at the arrows out to maybe 5 at the break point.
The straight shot didn’t work at the start Sunday as I had more hang on the edge. Eventually, I got to the same high-pin, strong drilled FRANTIC and then a weaker FRANTIC before switching to a high-pin, strong drilled REIGN SUPREME in the position round.
Guys that threw it much harder than my Raisin bones can dream of were able to use balls with some surface straight up the outside for a great reaction early on Sunday.
After game three, I went on a roll with games of 269, 221, 232, 237, 278, 225, 212 and 235, winning all but one match, which I tied.
That got me back to fourth for the position round, where Bohn beat me 236-212.
That left me at the mercy of my old buddy Dale Traber, who was leading his match until Cameron Foster finished with four strikes and Dale couldn’t carry in the 10th. Dale not getting 30 bonus pins allowed me to take the final spot in the four-man stepladder.
I then got to bowl Bohn again on the same pair (11-12) that we bowled the position round match on. Parker said the 236 he bowled against me was his high game of the weekend on that pair and it showed in our match, as he couldn’t recover from a pair of early splits and I advanced 235-200.
Lanes 13-14 were much tighter and McCune simply couldn’t carry while I had a perfect look, firing an 8-bagger after an opening spare to coat to a 267-200 win.
Traber then beat me for his 27th PBA Regional title to conclude another great weekend at Premiere.
Now that I am 50, I plan to bowl almost exclusively Senior events in PBA competition but the event at Premiere will be an exception so long as I my schedule enables me to make it.
Danny and Betty Thurman treat the bowlers so well they deserve to have the biggest regional of the year. The spread they put out in the paddock includes pulled pork and beef brisket.
They even put out a birthday cake on Saturday for Pete Weber, who just turned 50, and myself.
And during the pro-am introductions on Saturday night, they got Weber with a gift of a walker and me with a gift of a cane. Those are the kind of special touches we truly appreciate.
Full results of the Regional are here.
For those who are wondering, Weber simply couldn’t carry on Sunday no matter what he tried as he went 0-12 in match play. As high as the scores were, not carrying spelled doom.