USBC Masters From My Point of View

Well the USBC Masters concluded last week and it was one heck of an experience for me.

When I first heard that the Masters was going to be in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the middle of February, I was like “You have got to be kidding me”. It was every bit as cold as I imagined it would be there, but it was well worth it. Besides the fact I did well, the town welcomed us with open arms. We went to a few restaurants , one of which was about 20 minutes from the bowling center, and every singe restaurant had a sign in it that said something along the lines of “Welcome USBC Bowlers”. It was refreshing to say the least! All of the volunteers were awesome and very nice. It was a fantastic venue.

This was the first big event I bowled since making the switch to Ebonite International products. I had been throwing them for a few months now and had my fair share of success already and was very comfortable with them, but I was very interested to see how they would match up for me at this stage.

I struggled to get consistent ball reaction the first 4 games the first night. I would throw 2-3 strikes in a row and then split. It was getting really frustrating. As I started the 5th game, I happened to look over at the wall where the scores were scrolling. I thought to myself, “I wonder if there is a common denominator in the scoring pace”. Sure enough, as I watched the names scroll, one thing stood out to me. The majority of people who were bowling well like to use open angles though the front part of the lane with a decent amount of axis rotation. Pete Weber had bowled 1510 for 6 earlier that morning. So I decided to move my feet left a bit without moving my eyes to open my angle up a hair through the front and get my hand around it and wouldn’t you know it, I found the trick. I finished that game with I think 244 to finish +79 on the night. Nothing spectacular but didn’t shoot myself in the foot at all and now I feel like I am seeing the picture the right way.

The next day I have burn squad which tends to be my wheelhouse anyways. I started right where I finished the night before but with a ball down. I never switched balls the whole day and just continued to move left and get my hand around it more and more. I bowled 1401 that 6 game block and jumped into 17th overall at +280 after the first 10. To put into perspective how good Pete Weber is, I felt like I just whacked em pretty good and I am still 30 pins behind his first 5 games LOL.

Anyways, my swing was loose and my confidence was high. The 3rd day I started with fellow EBI staffer, Dave Wodka. Dave had been struggling a bit with ball reaction the first two days but grinded his way into a position to make a move the 3rd day. He had drilled up a fresh Code of Honor to give him a little different look than the previous days. Through the first 5 frames I was on pace to shoot about 130 and Dave was throwing the Code of Honor he had just drilled and was on about 240 pace. I decided to switch to mine and threw the last 6 or 7 strikes for 205….yes last 6-7 for 205 LOL. If it wasn’t for getting paired up with Dave, I don’t think I would have seen that move and the week may have gone totally different. I finished out the day at +159 and +439 overall and in 3rd place. After the other squads bowled I eventually dropped to 8th. But to see my name near the top of a PBA Major after all 3 days of qualifying was a feeling of satisfaction knowing that all my hard work is paying off and that the bowling balls really are matching up for me better than I could have ever hoped.

My first match was a buddy of mine who I grew up bowling against, Greg Ostrander. it was pretty close through 2 games but then I bowled 287 the 3rd game and won the match 725-653. Up next was Brad Angelo and probably one of the biggest emotional roller coaster matches I have ever bowled. My ball reaction started out great on the pair. I think I bowled 268 to his 212 the first game. I even started the next game with the front 4. Then out of nowhere they seemed to tighten up downlane just enough to where my ball would miss it and 2-8-10. I think I bowled 198 and he bowled 257. So all of the sudden I am down 3 or 4 with one game to go. Brad made a ball change that looked incredible and it was going to take some of my best shot making to beat him. Going into the 9th frame I was down about 20. It was looking grim. The rack on the left lane had been horrific for 3 games now and Brad and I both have used our 2 re-racks this game already. I wasn’t exactly sure of the rule, but I knew I needed to finish on the left lane and I wanted to know if the rack was bad, would I be allowed a 3rd re-rack. The tournament director happened to be walking by so I stopped him to ask my question. “If my rack is bad on the left lane in the 10th frame, am I allowed a 3rd re-rack since I have already used my two?” He responded with “Yes, as long as you ask a tournament official first”. Right as he finished answering my question, his walkie talkie went off very, very loudly. Brad had been up on the approach getting ready to start his approach when it went off. He was not happy AT ALL. He stepped off and exchanged a few words with the TD before resetting to try and bowl his 9th frame. I could tell he mentally was still thinking about what had happened and was not focused on the shot. He missed left and 3-6-10’d and then chopped the spare. Now all of the sudden, I can strike in the 9th and throw the first two in the 10th to win the match. I got up and struck in the 9th and then threw a mediocre shot in the 10th which happened to light mixer strike. Then the shot I needed most I felt I threw the best out of the 3 and it caught the oil in the back of the pattern just enough and came behind the headpin almost 2-8-10ing again but only leaving the 8 for 233. Brad can now get up and double to beat me. He got up and threw a pretty good shot and 10 pin’d. Winner 699-692 and I was all done for the day.

The next morning I bowled my buddy Zeke Bayt. Game one was atrocious for both of us. Each had a 4 bagger somewhere in the game and neither of us had a spare the whole game. I was down 1 after the first game 187-186. Game 2 I fell into ball reaction starting with the front 8 before I hear this loud thud as my ball was coming back from the 8th strike. Of course my ball would fall off the tracks as it was coming back. Had to wait about 15 minutes before it came back and I was able to continue bowling and of course I threw the worst shot of the game and got 7. I was able to finish that game with 277 and had a commanding lead over Zeke. The 3rd game both our ball reactions went away and I basically went into survival mode just trying to fill frames. It was good enough though and I moved on to face Francois Lavoie. That match was not fun for me. I got steamrolled. The whole tournament, my ball was hooking back from 6-7 and now every time it got right of 8 it hit the 3 pin in the face. It was like a different button got pressed on the oil machine. I spent too much time that match trying to figure out how to get that ball reaction back instead of playing what the lanes were now giving me.

Into the losers bracket I go. Next up was Chad Nelson. Not gonna lie, I had never heard of him before this tournament. Apparently he was the man to beat at the high roller events back in the day. And he threw it sick, so it made sense. I bowled an atrocious 148 the first game. Pretty much sealing my fate. Game 2 I finally made the move right I had been contemplating and my ball reaction got significantly better. I bowled 198 simply because I struggled putting together strikes but I knew I was close. Sure enough next game I bowl 258 which with what the scoring pace in all the matches were like, that was more like 358 lol But it still wasn’t enough. I think I ended up losing by 20-30 pins. I legitimately thought I had a chance to win 6 frames into the last game being down 92 going into the game. He easily could have shot 180 with how hard they were and my ball reaction had 270+ written all over it. I made a horrific shot in the 7th or 8th frame and then 4 pinned in the 10th for the 258.

It was a really great experience for me and I learned a lot from my mistakes. One main one being you really can’t afford to make any if you want to beat these guys. haha. The amount you learn bowling with the best in the world is incredible. I feel like I learned more last week than I have in the last 6 months. There is so much knowledge on tour and I am just a sponge wanting to soak it all up….

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