By David Waswo
LAS VEGAS – Many bowlers come to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships with goals, and Michael Hamilton of Davenport, Iowa, was no exception.
Hamilton, a 69-year-old left-hander, struggled in previous trips to Las Vegas in 2017 and 2019, and he looked to improve on those performances this year at the South Point Bowling Plaza and South Point Bowling Center.
To say that he accomplished that goal is an understatement.
After firing a 662 series in his team event Tuesday at the Bowling Plaza and helping his team, Knoxville Tap 2 to a 2,762 total, he moved on to the Bowling Center for doubles and singles Wednesday.
He kept up his consistent bowling by shooting 648 in doubles, while his partner, Dave Miller Sr. of Coal Valley, Illinois, added 537 for a 1,185 total and a spot in the top 15 in Standard Doubles.
Hamilton finished his 38th USBC Open Championships appearance with games of 189, 229 and 214 for a 632 singles series, and his 1,942 all-events total is the highest since the introduction of the Standard Division in 2017.
Standard Singles and Standard All-Events in 2021 includes bowlers with entering Championships Averages of 156-175.
Hamilton said he knew he had a shot to break 1,800 for the first time in a decade as he moved on to singles, but taking the lead didn’t cross his mind.
“I had no idea I was bowling well enough to take the lead, but I knew I was bowling well,” said Hamilton, who made his tournament debut at the 1982 event in Baltimore. “When my teammates told me after that I shot 1,942, I was shocked. My previous favorite moment was when I shot 1,936 in Reno in 2011. Of course, this now is my favorite.”
Hamilton, a retired construction inspector, was in Las Vegas for the fifth time in his Open Championships career, and it has grown to become his favorite host city.
“Vegas is my favorite venue of all,” Hamilton said. “There is always something to do, and the city changes each time we come back.”
The previous leader in Standard All-Events was Eric Synstegard of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, with 1,910.
The highest all-events total in the short history of the Standard Division was 1,915, rolled by Rusty Johnston of Austin, Texas, on the way to becoming the first Standard All-Events champion.