BATON ROUGE, La. - Jonathan Dunbar of Powhatan, Va., picked the perfect time for the first perfect game of his bowling career and now is the proud owner of the eighth 300 of the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
Dunbar has been close to perfection on smaller stages twice before but settled for 299 games on both occasions. He was admittedly nervous as the strikes added up at the Baton Rouge River Center on Monday, and he even went Brooklyn on the 11th shot. He immediately gathered himself and closed the game with the best shot possible.
"It's hard to contain your emotions at that point," said Dunbar, who bowls league at King Pin Lanes. "I was shaking. I'm not going to lie to you. It's tough to shake the nerves in that situation. I was disgusted with myself after the Brooklyn, but it carried. I knew the 12th shot was good off my hand. I've been waiting for this for eight years, since I got back into bowling."
The 34-year-old right-hander opened doubles with a 180 game, but then exploded for a nine-strike 267 effort. The pins continued to fall in the finale, and the 300 helped him to a career-high 747 series. He teamed with Sam Tutoro of Chesterfield, Va., for a 1,267 total. Adam Barta of Girard, Ohio, and Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Wash., lead Regular Doubles with 1,429.
"It's pretty unbelievable," said Dunbar, who made his fifth USBC Open Championships appearance. "I've been close several times before, but for it to happen here is just crazy. This was the last place I thought it would happen."
Dunbar looks at the Open Championships as a measuring stick to see how his game has improved because of its high degree of difficulty and Sport-certified lane condition. Before his career day, he had never cracked the 600 mark at the Open Championships, and his highest all-events total was 1,619. He added 554 in singles and 514 in team for a 1,815 this year.
"I though shooting 300 here was not attainable," said Dunbar, who is a plumber for Baker and Hazelwood in Richmond, Va. "Don't get me wrong, I am happy about shooting 300, but I'm happier about shooting 747. I had never shot 600 at the tournament before, and this is my highest series ever."
Perhaps most of all, Dunbar was proud to have his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Shyla, in attendance. Ironically, Kathy predicted her husband's perfect game on the way to the River Center.
"It was really special to have my wife and daughter here," Dunbar said. "Kathy said I was going to shoot 300 today, and amazingly enough, I did. Plus, she is pregnant and due in October, so I am more than thrilled about today. It's been a good day."
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.