BATON ROUGE, La. - Fresh off a tournament win, Fero Williams of Falls Church, Va., was comfortable with how he was throwing the ball heading into the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships this week, so stopping by the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC wasn't at the top of his list of things to do in Baton Rouge.
He changed his mind at the last minute and decided to put his skills to the test after all. Following a subpar four-game total (822) during his first attempt at Metro Bowl on Tuesday, the 31-year-old right-hander made the necessary adjustments and bowled again.
Everything clicked for the former Team USA member (2006-08), and he fired games 223, 246, 262 and 274 to take the top spot in Open Singles and on the Dual Entry standings with a 1,005 total. Pete Thomas of Oklahoma City previously held the lead with 941.
"It feels phenomenal," said Williams, who entered the season as USBC's career leader for perfect games with 123. "To be able to lead a tournament, especially a national tournament as big as this, makes you really appreciate the time and effort you put in to try to be one of the best bowlers in the country."
The Bowlers Journal Championships is running alongside the USBC Open Championships for the 66th year, and although it's just a small piece of the national-tournament landscape, a win means a lot in the bowling community.
"Although the BJ is a side event, it's also a great tournament," Williams said. "It does help you get your arm swing ready for the Open Championships. I really wasn't in the mood to bowl, but I decided to bowl a couple of squads to get lined-up. I had just bowled a trios tournament at Metro, and I won that, so I decided to bowl the BJ. The first squad, I only shot 822, so I decided to try again, and I went crazy. I had a good look and just tried to stay consistent and finish all four games."
Williams drew from his years of knowledge and experience to successfully attack the Sport-certified lane condition at the Bowlers Journal.
"I had to keep my ball straighter through the front part of the lane," said Williams, who also made his eighth Open Championships appearance. "Every time I didn't stay behind the ball, I got a funky reaction. But, if I stayed behind it and came through my shot, I had a great look, great push and great reaction."
Williams is a very accomplished bowler with several key wins in tournament competition including the prestigious Hoinke Classic handicap tournament. He also has experience in the professional ranks as the second-round leader at the 2009 Professional Bowlers Association Detroit Open and the leader in the clubhouse after two rounds at the 68th U.S. Open.
His pedigree breeds winning, and it's safe to say that Williams would love to add a Bowlers Journal title to his resume.
"If my BJ score holds up, I would rank it in my top five," Williams said. "Making Team USA was one of my biggest goals as a kid, and I finished second (at the 2006 USBC Team USA Trials) one year. I won the Hoinke one year, which is a very prestigious handicap tournament. I led the PBA Detroit Open and the U.S. Open for three days. Of course, I would really like to have a major. A lot of great bowlers bowl the BJ while they're at nationals, so it would mean something."
Many bowlers who lace up their shoes to compete at the Open Championships have the dream of one day winning a title at the historic event. While an eagle will have to wait another year for Williams, it will be a career-defining moment if it happens.
"The eagle is like the icing on the cake," said Williams, who closed out his 2012 campaign with 672 in doubles, 626 in singles and 592 in team for a 1,890 all-events total. "It's like getting your Ph.D. It's the cream of all crops. Your name will be in the record books forever, even after you pass. You want to win to make sure your legacy is forever. It's something for your kids to look at."
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.