By Matt Cannizzaro and Sam Neves
LAS VEGAS – Four-time Team USA member Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan, has made some clutch shots in his career on the way to becoming a Professional Bowlers Association Tour major titlist, the PBA Player of the Year and a world champion.
Some of his most noteworthy, career-defining moments have come on the lanes at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, and he added one more memorable performance to the list Tuesday night at the South Point Bowling Center.
The 26-year-old right-hander filled his final frame to secure the first 800 series of the 2021 USBC Open Championships, and the performance propelled him into the lead in Regular Singles and Regular All-Events with 802 and 2,203, respectively.
He stepped up in his final frame with a chance to shoot 823, but a 10 pin on his first shot slowed his momentum. He needed to convert the spare and knock down at least eight pins to reach the 800 mark and surpass Rick Schafer of Arvada, Colorado, who took the lead earlier in the day with 799.
Anderson, also a USBC Board member, finished singles with games of 269, 277 and 256 and added sets of 724 in doubles and 677 in team to reach his career-best all-events total and the top of the all-events leaderboard, previously occupied by fellow Team USA member Michael Martell of Brooklyn, New York, with 2,194.
“I haven’t been that nervous in the 10th frame since I won the (USBC) Masters,” said Anderson, a three-time winner on the PBA Tour. “I feel like I thrive under pressure, but I’m still fairly upset with my first shot in the 10th. I feel like I really only threw two errant shots during the set, the first one in the 10th frame of Game 3 and the 2-4-10 I left and spared in the sixth frame of Game 2.”
Anderson won the 2018 Masters for the first major title of his professional career on the biggest stage in bowling, built from the concrete floor up, inside the Oncenter Convention Center in Syracuse, New York, for the 2018 Open Championships.
It was the first time the two events had shared the same venue since 2011, and it marked the beginning of whirlwind of success for Anderson.
He returned to the Open Championships in 2019 hoping to spend quality time competing with his friends and his brother, Matthew, which he did, but with more eyes on him than ever, since he entered the event as the reigning PBA Player of the Year and a trios gold medalist at the 2018 International Bowling Federation World Men’s Championships.
The visit to the South Point Bowling Plaza was a roller coaster ride for Anderson, who found the spotlight again and joined his brother in the Open Championships record book with a perfect game, but lost his look and composure quickly after.
His 300 was one of 12 for the year, but the joy of matching the feat his brother accomplished in 2014 was short-lived. He followed the perfect game with 137 and 187 for a 624 singles series.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 Open Championships, Anderson needed to wait two years for a shot at redemption, and he took full advantage of the opportunity Monday and Tuesday in his return to South Point.
Again, the experience included a flurry of emotions. While the individual success is special, and the chance for two Eagles is exciting, his ultimate goal was to help his team find success in 2021, too.
Anderson, who’s now one of 37 bowlers in Open Championships history with both a 300 and 800 on the tournament lanes, helped Bo Goergen Team 9 of Sanford, Michigan, make a run at the lead in Regular Team on Monday, before settling into fourth place with a 3,301 total.
The seven-time Open Championships participant knew they left pins out there, just as he and his teammates had done on the way to a third-place finish in the team event in 2017.
But, again, his desire to see the group succeed, plus the head start toward Team All-Events, meant some momentum heading into doubles and singles Tuesday and another chance to make a run.
Anderson was followed in the overall effort by Frank Snodgrass (1,967), Craig Nidiffer (1,898), Justin Neiman (1,895) and Daniel Pollak (1,871), but their combined effort again wasn’t enough. Their 9,834 total left them 93 pins shy of Team All-Events leader, K and J Finishing 1 of Carpentersville, Illinois (9,927).
“I’m really hurting for my guys,” Anderson said. “They were struggling on a different pair than me. We came so close to taking the team lead last night, and I was really hoping we could get there for Team All-Events tonight.”
Along with his performance, Anderson also made an effort to lead the team with his words.
“Before singles started, I grouped them together and told them I was going to give them 800 and told them to get as much as they can,” Anderson said. “While the nerves were there, what I really wanted to do was give us something to celebrate. In the end, I really feel like I left too many pins out there during the team event.”
With the 2021 Open Championships still in its first month, Anderson now must endure the long wait to see if his scores are enough to claim the first Eagle, or Eagles, of his young career.
The tournament kicked off its 79-day run May 1 and will run daily until July 18. During that time, more than 38,000 bowlers will visit South Point looking for Open Championships glory and a coveted Eagle trophy.
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