Connecticut pair takes Classified Doubles lead at 2019 USBC Open Championships

By Matt Cannizzaro and Makinzey Marracco
USBC Communications

Kevin Graham of Fairfield, Connecticut, and Anthony Merritt of Naugatuck, Connecticut, are headed home from the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships with the honor of leading Classified Doubles.

Setting out to just have fun and shoot the best they could, they never saw what was to come Wednesday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, and the element of surprise made their accomplishment even sweeter.

The uncle-nephew duo was led by Merritt, a 24-year-old right-hander who had a career day on the biggest stage in bowling. He rolled games of 277, 150 and 232 for a 659 series, nearly 200 pins better than any set during his first three years on the championship lanes.

Graham, a 58-year-old left-hander, added games of 135, 152 and 187 for a 474 series and 1,133 total.

The hot start and big finish helped the two past Charles Hurst of Julesburg, Colorado, and Matthew Walters of Englewood, Ohio, who previously held the Classified Doubles lead with 1,103.

"It feels great," said Merritt, who made his fourth USBC Open Championships appearance. "It's always been a one carries the other type of thing for us, and once you're in the running, you're there. Today was a lot of fun."

Graham, who made his seventh tournament appearance, was disappointed in his own slow start but motivated by his striking nephew.

"I didn't start out good, and I wasn't even paying attention to our score," Graham said. "I was ready to just practice things out there, but once Anthony said we still had a shot, we just kept on trying."

Graham and Merritt are used to helping each other out on the lanes. This year, they won their league at Amity Bowl in Woodbridge, Connecticut.

Though there's still more than three months left in the 2019 Open Championships, the two do intend to celebrate their success a little bit before leaving town. They're planning on a nice Vegas-style steak dinner before heading back home, and then the leaderboard watch will commence.

The 122-day run of this year's tournament will conclude July 8.

Merritt added a 443 series in singles and 439 in team for a 1,541 total, a career-best for him at the Open Championships by 300 pins. Graham had 549 in team and 466 in singles for a 1,489 all-events total.

Classified Doubles includes teams with combined entering averages of 310 and below.

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