SEATTLE – Heading into the final two tournaments of the Professional Bowlers Association’s 2012 Senior Tour season, Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., holds a commanding lead in the Senior Player of the Year points race.
That’s probably a welcome relief after the PBA Tour’s all-time career titles record holder experienced probably his worst season on the PBA Tour in a career that began 31 years ago.
As the Senior Tour’s only two-time winner this season, the 52-year-old Williams holds a 16-point lead over fellow Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli and Mike Edwards heading into the PBA Senior South Shore Open presented by DV8 which returns to Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Ind., Aug. 6-9. The Senior Tour season wraps up the following week with the PBA Senior Decatur Open presented by Brunswick Aug. 11-14 at Spare Time Lanes in Decatur, Ill.
With 16 Player-of-the-Year points going to the winner of each event, plus eight points for second, four for third and two for fourth place, Monacelli or Edwards would have to win in Hammond or Decatur (or finish second in both) while Williams would have to go point-less in order to lose the Player of the Year contest.
Williams’ good fortune on the Senior Tour this season could be considered an unlikely turnaround after a PBA Tour season in which his highest finish was 16th and he failed to make a TV finals for the first time in 26 years.
“Bowling on the regular tour the last two years has been very frustrating for me. But bowling with the Seniors this season has definitely given me back a little bit of confidence,” said the 2010 Senior Rookie of the Year. “I'm planning on bowling as many (PBA) Tour events as I can this upcoming season. In fact, I just won a paid entry into the World Series of Bowling at a recent regional tournament.”
Williams’ first title this season came in the Senior Don Carter Memorial under trying circumstances. Mid-way through the event, his father passed away after a lengthy illness. He followed that emotional victory with a string of top-10 finishes which included a second in the Senior U.S. Open and seventh in the USBC Senior Masters.
His second title of the season and fourth of his Senior Tour career came in the PBA Senior Northern California Classic in late June just prior to a six-week break for the Senior Tour. His worst finish this season has been 11th in the PBA Senior Dayton Classic.
This season four players have scored wins in their first year of eligibility including Lennie Boresch Jr., who won the Sun Bowl in The Villages in his Senior Tour debut; former PBA Tour player Bob Learn Jr. (Senior Mooresville Classic), Monacelli (Senior U.S. Open) and Edwards (USBC Senior Masters). Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia was the other winner this season, winning the Senior Dayton Classic to become the first player to win either a PBA Tour or Senior Tour event in six decades.
“There are plenty of good bowlers who are becoming eligible and successful on the Senior Tour each year — it’s just a matter of how much they want to bowl,” said Williams, who is hoping to record his first Senior Player of the Year crown to go with his record seven on the PBA Tour. “For the guys who are just coming off the regular tour or are bowling both tours, they naturally have the advantage on the Senior Tour. But the guys who primarily bowl the Senior Tour, they’re plenty competitive as well. They just might miss a few more shots than they used to.”
In 2011 Williams finished 13th in Hammond and fifth in Decatur, where he was also top qualifier last season. He has also won a PBA Tour title in Hammond (the Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championship in 2008).
“I have bowled well in both of those houses in the past so I’m hopeful of having good tournaments to finish the season,” Williams said.
The season-ending Senior Decatur Open will be covered live on PBA’s Extra Frame online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame logo.
PBA Senior South Shore Open presented by DV8 Schedule Olympia Lanes, Hammond, Ind., Aug. 6-9
Monday, August 6
8-9 a.m. - A Squad practice
11 a.m. – Noon - B Squad practice
Pro Am Squads - 1, 3, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, August 7
9 a.m. - A squad qualifying (eight-games)
3 p.m. – B squad qualifying (eight games)
Wednesday, August 8
9 a.m. - B squad qualifying (eight games)
3 p.m. - A squad qualifying (eight games)
Thursday, August 9
9 a.m. - Players qualifying 17-32 (best of five-game match play)
11 a.m. - Winners and players qualifying 9-16 bowl (best of five-game match play)
2 p.m. - Winners and players qualifying 1-8 bowl (best of five-game match play)
5 p.m. - Round of 8 (best of three-game match play) Round of 4 (one game) begins at 7 p.m. (TV style) Round of 2 (one game) immediately following