Here is my report of the Cream of the Crop tournament held at the Langlo Lanes in New Port Richey in FL. This isn't a PBA tournament, but many PBA members in addition to some of the top non-PBA bowlers bowl in these tournaments. There is a men's doubles tournament, a men's singles, a women's singles and a mixed doubles event. New Port Richey is about 30 miles northwest of Tampa.

MEN'S DOUBLES:

The men's doubles tournament was first. The event has a rule that prohibits 2 PBA members from bowling together. Last year I bowled with Jeff Bellinger, a former touring professional who had dropped his card and we ended up winning the tournament. Jeff is getting ready to join the PBA again as he is turning 50 this summer and plans to bowl some of the PBA Senior tournaments.

Everybody bowled together on the same squad. Entries were down a bit so there were 2 teams per pair except for one pair which had 3 teams. Fortunately for us we weren't following that slow pair. The format was 10 games total pins with a step ladder playoff which followed. The leader of the event has an advantage in that they have to be beaten twice. The lanes were oiled with a fairly flat pattern. However, the lanes tend to break down rather quickly. The lanes seemed to a bit tighter (less friction) than the last few years. Both Jeff and I started playing around the 1st arrow. We both had a bad start as we had 3 opens in the first 2 frames. We both made a nice comeback as I had a double and turkey for a 213 while Jeff had a 4 bagger and a turkey for a 222. In the 2nd game we again had a bad start except it went to the 4th frame as we had 5 opens in those 4 frames. Unfortunately Jeff had a couple of more splits for opens to shoot 139 and I did manage a late turkey to shoot 182. We again had trouble in the 3rd game having 4 opens in the first 4 frames. We weren't able to get any consecutive strikes in the game except for my early double so I had a 191 while Jeff had 160. We were at least 150 pins behind the top 5 teams after 3 games. We started to move left during these couple of games so that I was playing between the 2nd and 3rd arrows. Jeff and I finally did some striking as he shot 254 while I shot 238. Again in the 5th game we had 4 opens in the first 2 frames, but pulled the games out as I had 211 and Jeff had 227. After the first 5 games we were around 70 pins behind the top 5. I started the 2nd 5 games playing around 14 and ended up shooting 269 with a finishing 9 bagger. Jeff shot 222. The lanes were hooking quite a bit more for our 7th game and I ended up moving my feet about 8 boards to the left and my target inside of 20. I bailed the game out with a 6 bagger after having a couple of opens to shoot 225 while Jeff had a late turkey to shoot 201. Game 8 was pretty good as Jeff shot 233 and I had a 279 with a 10 pin in the 4th frame being my only non strike. With the lanes starting to hook a bit I was getting a bit slow at the end of the game to scrape up a 208 while Jeff bowled a really nice 248. We finished strong as Jeff had 246 and I shot 237. We ended up being tied for lead with Dino Castillo and Tommy Jones at +405. We had a one game roll off while the step ladder was taking place on a different pair. We started off with a bit of a lead thanks to a starting 4 bagger on my part. Dino and Tommy were making a match out of it as Dino finished with 6 out of 7 strikes to shoot 248. Jeff had a late turkey and picked up the 3-4-6-7-10 in the 10th frame to shoot 212. Tommy and I matched strikes in the 9th and 10th frames until our fill balls when I left a solid 8 pin to lock up the win with a 247 game while Tommy shot 207. Dino and Tommy won the semi final match which meant that they would have to beat Jeff and I 2 straight games to win the tournament. The lanes were hooking pretty good and I was hooking the ball around 28 at the arrows. I had a great reaction at the start of the match as did the other 3 bowlers. Tommy finished strong with a 5 bagger to shoot 235 to help their team beat us in the 1st game 459 - 426 as Jeff shot 202 to my 224. I was starting to go high at the end of the 1st game and kept doing that in the 2nd game. I struggled in the 2nd game as did Jeff while Dino shot 217 to Tommy's 215 while Jeff had another 202 and I shot a very disappointing 175. I didn't keep my speed up and kept going high in the last game.

In the 10 games of qualifying I had 73 strikes out of 117 shots while missing the pocket 26 times.
I had 1 strike while missing the pocket when I tripped the 4-7-10 in the 6th game.
I had 72 strikes out of 91 pocket shots for 79% strike percentage on pocket shots.
I had 10 opens: 8 splits (4-6, 2-8-10, 4-6-7-10, 6-7-10, 4-6-7-10, 4-6-7, 3-10, 4-6-7-9-10) and 2 missed spares (1-2-4-6-10, 3-6-10). I made 3 difficult spares; the 1-2-10, 2-4-5-8, and the 3-10.

Jeff had 65 strikes out of 113 shots. He missed the pocket 37 times and had 1 strike while missing the pocket, a tripped 4-7-10 in the 10th game.
Jeff had 64 strikes out of 76 pocket shots or 84% strike percentage on pocket shots.
Jeff had 13 opens: 6 splits (4-6-7-10, 2-4-8-10 twice, 4-6-7-10, 4-6-7-9-10, 3-6-7-10), 6 missed washouts (1-2-4-6-10, three 1-2-4-10, 1-2-8-10, 1-2-4-10) and one missed spare, 3-6-9-10. Jeff picked up 5 difficult spares; 3-6-9-10, 3-10, 1-2-8, 3-10, 2-8.

In our playoff and title matches I had 18 strikes out of 34 shots while missing the pocket 12 times and getting 1 non pocket strike when I went high and tripped the 4-7 in our 1st match.
My pocket strike percentage was 17 out of 22 or 77%.
I had 2 opens, both were splits (4-6-7 and 6-7-10).
I did pick up the 1-2-4-10.

Jeff had 15 strikes out of 33 shots with 10 missed pocket shots and 1 strike when he missed the pocket when he rolled the 2 pin in our 2nd match.
Jeff's pocket strike percentage was 14 out of 23 or 61%.
Jeff had 2 opens, both were missed 10 pins.
Jeff did pick up the 2-7, 3-4-6-7-10 and the 2-5-8.

In our matches Dino Castillo had 22 strikes out of 35 shots with 5 missed pocket shots and 1 non pocket strike when he started with a high tripped 4-7 in the last match.
Dino's pocket strike percentage was 21 out of 30 or 70%.
Dino had no opens and made the 2-4-10.

In our matches Tommy Jones had 17 strikes out of 34 shots with 9 missed pocket shots with no strikes when he missed the pocket.
Tommy's pocket strike percentage was 17 out of 25 or 68%.
Tommy had 2 opens, both were splits (4-6-7-9-10, 3-10).
Tommy made the 4-10 and the 3-10 during our matches.

After our poor start Jeff and I rebounded to sneak out the lead from Tommy and Dino. But I wasn't able to throw the ball the way I needed to as the lanes started to hook and Jeff's missed single pins didn't help. Tommy and Dino bowled well in their games against us.

SINGLES:

The singles was bowled using a similar format as the doubles. There were 5 and 6 players per pair with 5 games being bowled before a break before the 2nd 5 games with the heads being oiled. There was a step ladder also in this event for the top 5 with the leader having to be beaten twice.

The lanes were oiled in such a way that there was no oil outside of 4. This creates what the pros refer to as a wet-dry lane condition. If you have the right roll on the ball a player can really score well, but for some players the condition can be confusing. The reason for the confusion is that it is possible for a player to miss right and have the ball end up going more left due to the extra friction. Conversely if a player misses left it is possible that the ball would end up right of a 'good' shot due to the extra oil left of their target. This really isn't my favorite pattern. It is too much like a league condition. The PBA's pattern 'E' is about the most similar to this pattern that the PBA uses and I tend to like to hook the ball on this pattern. So I started the first game hooking the ball from about 12 out to around 3. I did pretty well except in the 10th frame I missed left to leave the 2-4-10 which I missed and shot 232. The 2nd game started giving me some fits as the ball would hook or not hook depending on where I threw it. I missed the 3-6-9 and 3-6-9-10 but picked up the 3-4-6-10 with one double to shoot 174. After 2 frames in game 3 I couldn't stand it any longer and decided to use my spare ball and play straight up the dry part of the lane going up 3. I still didn't want to put to much spin on the ball and by the end of the game I was using my spare release. Unfortunately I missed the 8-10 in the 5th, but made the 3-6-9-10 and the 1-2-4-6-10 in the first 2 frames for a 182. I started to hit the pocket and shot 227 in game 4 followed by a 217 which included a spared 5-7. After the heads (first 20 feet) were oiled I was able to use a more aggressive ball as there was oil on the outside of the lane in the heads. I was still trying to throw the ball very straight and had a nice reaction. I shot 228, 259, 249, 239 in games 6 through 9 needed a decent game to make the top 5. Unfortunately for me had trouble striking in the last game as I left 4 ten pins and 2 four pins on no missed pocket shots for 206. I ended up missing the top 5 by about 15 pins.

In the 10 games of qualifying I had 65 strikes out of 111 shots while missing the pocket 17 times.
I had 3 strikes while missing the pocket; a nose shot in the 2nd game, a high tripped 4-7 in the 3rd game and another high tripped 4-7 in the 7th game.
I had 62 strikes out of 94 pocket shots for 66% strike percentage on pocket shots.
I had 4 opens: 2 splits (2-4-10, 8-10) and 2 missed spares (3-6-9, 3-6-9-10). I made the 2-8, 3-6-9-10, 1-2-4-6-10, 2-4-5-7 and the 3-4-6-10 and 5-7 splits.

My slow start caused me to come up short at the end, but that happens sometimes.

In the mixed doubles event I bowled with a different partner than last year as my partner from last year, Paula Carter, hurt her shoulder and was unable to compete with me. My partner this year was Jody Scheerer. Jody used to bowl on the ladies tour as Jody Ellis from South Africa, but gave up tour several years ago. The format was the same as the men's doubles with 5 games and then another 5 games after a re-oiling break. The lanes were oiled using a very similar pattern as the Men's singles with virtually no oil on the outside of the lanes. I tried to get Jody to move way outside, but she was very uncomfortable playing out there. Unfortunately she really struggled the first 5 games as she averaged around 167. I started the first block using my plastic ball setting the ball down on around 2. I was able to hit the pocket on most of my shots, but I did have quite a few taps. I shot games of 224, 232, 206, 226 and 206 in the morning.

After the lanes had the heads oiled I again was able to go to a more aggressive ball, but keeping a straight line to the pocket. Jody decided to try playing the outside line with a plastic ball in the 2nd round. Jody wasn't very comfortable playing that close to the channel and she had trouble getting her feet far enough right. She managed to average 187 in the 2nd 5 games. Playing an extreme outside angle isn't easy if you aren't used to it and it isn't a line that is played at most bowling centers. With the oil on the outside of the lanes in the first 20 feet the ball didn't jump left if I was a bit to the right. I had a very good reaction in the 2nd set and shot games of 225, 256, 247, 268 and 268 as I missed the pocket once in the last 5 games. Unfortunately we came up a bit short in the final standings as we finished in 7th. I ended up winning the all events for the Men's division.

In the 10 games of qualifying I had 71 strikes out of 117 shots while missing the pocket 8 times.
I had no strikes while missing the pocket.
I had 71 strikes out of 109 pocket shots for a 65% strike percentage on pocket shots.
I had no opens.
I made the 2-4-8 and the 2-5-8 combination spares.

Jody had 32 strikes out of 109 shots. She missed the pocket 58 times and had 1 strike while missing the pocket, a cross over strike in the 2nd game.
Jody had 31 strikes out of 51 pocket shots or a 61% strike percentage on pocket shots.
Jody had 23 opens: 10 splits (3-9-10, three 2-4-10's, 2-10, 3-10, two 4-6-7's, 4-5, 6-7-10), 2 missed washouts (1-2-8-10, 1-2-4-10) and 11 missed spares (1-2-4-7, 2-4-8, 1-3-9, 2-8, 2-4-5 twice, 6-10 twice, 2-4-8, 3-6-9, 7). Jody did pick up 5 difficult spares (1-2-4-8 twice, 3-6-9, 3-10, 1-2-4-6-10, 1-2-4, 3-9-10, 1-2-4-10, 3-6-10).

I bowled fairly well over the 3 days. Jeff bowled pretty well also, but Jody really struggled. Unfortunately I think she may have been a little bit nervous bowling with me but we still had a good time and did make a little bit of money.

http://www.leaguesecretary.com/john/OtherTournaments.asp

Walter Ray