Michigan bowler exceeds goals at 2014 OC

RENO, Nev. - Bill Bruce of Howell, Mich., always has considered himself a strong league bowler, but that has not translated to success at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, until now.

Along with a motivated group of teammates, Bruce worked especially hard to be prepared for this year's event, and it paid off in the form of a 300 game during singles Friday at the National Bowling Stadium. It was the 28th perfect game of the 2014 tournament.

The 42-year-old right-hander rolled games of 177, 300 and 215 for a 692 series, the highest set of his five-year USBC Open Championships career. Louis Jenkins Jr. of Warr Acres, Okla., leads Regular Singles with 826.

"In years past, I've come out here and struggled, and that is really frustrating," said Bruce, who bowls league at Woodland Lanes in Livonia, Mich. "I wanted to prove to myself I could play a shot I don't usually play, and I was able to do that."

Bruce arrived in The Biggest Little City in the World with more confidence than in the past thanks to numerous practice sessions at home with his teammates and countless hours with his ball driller making sure he had the right equipment for the two Sport-certified lane conditions he'd be facing at the NBS.

The 2014 event marked the fourth year Bruce and his two-team group have bowled together on the championship lanes, and a solid game plan contributed to his success this week.

"I bowled fairly well in team yesterday and had good hopes coming in today because we worked hard and had a good plan," said Bruce, who had 673 in team and 610 in doubles for a career-best 1,975 all-events total. "We wanted to stay as far right as possible, and as the lanes started to transition, change equipment and move deeper to follow the oil. Playing inside definitely is my comfort zone, but having the right equipment this year helped me do well until I could move in."

Bruce actually made his Open Championships debut at the 1999 event in Syracuse, N.Y., but marriage, work and a move from Ohio to Michigan kept him from bowling's biggest stage until his return in 2011 alongside the friends he made within the Detroit-area bowling community.

While Bruce's goal coming in this year simply was to post his first 1,800 all-events total, he was excited to catapult past it. His previous high was 1,731 at the 2011 tournament, also at the NBS.

"It feels awesome," Bruce said. "I was a lot more focused and determined and put more effort into this tournament than in the past. As a team, we bowled solid, and that was a good feeling. And this was the best I've bowled in doubles and singles. Having the right equipment, plus all the hard work, really paid off."

Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open/Women's Championships page.

Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.