Some of the Top Amateurs of All Time – Part 2

Last week we started our list of the top amateurs from 1988-200 – the era that our own John Gaines competed in. On yesterday’s list, we listed some of the names that the casual fan may not have ever heard of. Today, though, we will be going over some rather big names. Names that later went on to find success at the Professional level.

Once again, as we stated yesterday, this was a very tough list to compile, and John wanted me to make sure that I emphasized that there are MANY other great amateurs from this era that could and should be considered for this list. But, alas, let’s begin.

Brian Kretzer – In order to be truly great, a bowler has to be good at everything, or the best at one thing; Kretzer was the best at slow hooking it. Period. Although his PBA career never really panned out, his amateur career was very, very impressive. A big time shot maker that always performed his best when the money was on the line, Kretzer won many big money sweepers throughout his amateur career. John recalls a certain night at the Super Hoinke where Kretzer won a sweeper for $15,000 dollars and, in the same squad, won $15,000 dollars in brackets.

Mike Neumann – One of the greatest shot makers our sport has ever seen. Neumann didn’t have a prototypical style, due to an injury early in his career, but, when it came to making quality shots, he’s one of the best to ever do it. In addition to his shot making, Neumann could get his ball to hook on ice. He was a member of Team USA, won both the Super Bowl High Roller and the Super Hoinke (both for $100,000 dollars), and, at the 1990 Open Championships, Neumann won 4 Eagles, which, to this day, is tied for an OC record.

Mika Koivuniemi – Mika, to most, is know for his PBA and Major success. However, his amateur career was every bit as impressive. Mika was an international standout before his PBA days as a member of Team Finland, winning two World Championships. He has won tournaments in 21 different countries. Shot 300 on TV in international competition, which came with a $100,000 bonus. One could make the argument that Mika might be the greatest international bowler of All-Time. In addition to his international success, Mika also won the Super Hoinke and number World Team Challenge titles.

Tommy Jones – Another bowler better known for his PBA days (this is going to be a common trend with these last few bowlers). Jones is and was a member of Team USA, in 1999, won the All-Events titles at the Open Championships as a 20-year-old. And was a member of the team that won the 1999 World Team Challenge Grand Championships.

Tim Mack — Today, Mack is most recognizably known as one of Storm’s PBA tour reps or as the manager of the L.L. Bean Portland Lumberjacks in the PBA Team League. However, before his days as manager and tour rep, Mack was internationally recognized as one of the best amateurs in the world. Mack has 72 — yes, I said it, 72 — world-wide titles, including the 2003 World Championship. Mack is a three time World Bowler of the Year and probably the single most accomplished American bowler in the history of international competition.

Patrick Healy Jr – Interesting stat that John shared with me: Pat Healy was the first amateur to EVER sign a ball contract. Think about that! WOW! As for his accolades, there are many. Healy was a stand out member of Team USA, where he won countless numbers of gold medals in international competition, including a gold medal at the Pan American games in Cuba that was presented by one Fidel Castro and a World Cup title. Healy was also a teammate of John’s at the 1997 and 1998 Open Championships, where they brought home the Team All-Events title two years in a row, which, in my opinion, is one of the most impressive feats in Open Championship history.

Chris Barnes – One of the most talented bowlers of all-time, amateur or professional. And while he has had a terrific professional career – he is a sure fire PBA Hall of Famer – his amateur career was just as impressive. According to Gaines, the thing that made Barnes so special was that he NEVER had a bad performance. Every tournament he entered, he had a chance to win. Earlier, when I was talking about Kretzer, I said in order to be great a bowler has to be great at one thing or good at everything, well Barnes is one of those rare beasts that was GREAT at everything. Like Healy, Barnes was a member of the 1997 and 1998 OC team that won back-to-back Team All-Events. He was a collegiate standout at Wichita State multi-time member of Team USA. And won countless, and I mean countless, numbers of big time amateur events.

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