ARLINGTON, Texas - After an emotional victory at the 2011 United States Bowling Congress Masters, Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa, thinks the key to his chances of successfully defending his title is keeping those emotions in check.
Hess was tearful and exuberant after defeating Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y., 225-214, to win last year's title at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. When the 2012 Masters begins Tuesday at Sunset Station's Strike Zone Bowling Center in suburban Las Vegas, Hess will have around 300 bowlers looking to dethrone him.
"I'm ready to try and defend, and hopefully I can find the same kind of magic that I found last year," said Hess, whose victory last year was his first title on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. "The key is to keep my emotions a little more level. I don't want to have the big peaks and valleys in the short matches."
Though his goal is to keep his emotions in check, Hess knows that when they announce him as the reigning champion before his first squad that he's likely to get a little teary-eyed once again.
"I can imagine when they go through and announce the previous winners of the Masters at the start of the first squad, that is going to be a pretty emotional moment and take me back to the day when I won last year," Hess said. "It was a childhood dream of mine to win on the PBA Tour. I never thought it would take until I was 41 to get that done, and to win was an amazing accomplishment."
It has been more than four decades since anyone has repeated as champion at the Masters. It's only been done twice and Billy Welu was the last to do it in 1965. So Hess knows history won't be on his side as he takes to the lanes next week.
"Do I think I can do it? Absolutely," Hess said. "But that stat right there just goes to show how hard it is to win back-to-back. If I go out and perform like I know I can perform, I like my chances."
All participants will bowl two five-game blocks of qualifying Jan. 24 and 25 before the first cut is made to the top 25 percent of the field. After another five games the morning of Jan. 26, the top 63 bowlers will join Hess in match play, which continues until the top four bowlers are determined for the TV finals. The stepladder finals will take place at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 29 and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
The Masters, which is one of four majors on the PBA Tour, also is a part of the World Bowling Tour organized by the World Tenpin Bowling Association. For more information on the Masters, visit BOWL.com/masters.