McCune leads qualifying at 2019 USBC Senior Masters Article Image

- Eugene McCune of Munster, Indiana, used the momentum of a perfect game Thursday to lead qualifying at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters.

The 50-year-old right-hander finished qualifying at Sam's Town Bowling Center with a 15-game total of 3,510, a 234 average over three days, to pace the 300-player field.

Professional Bowlers Association and USBC Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida, is second with 3,484, and defending champion Chris Warren of Grants Pass, Oregon, jumped into third place after posting the biggest five-game block Thursday (1,292) to finish with 3,480.

Warren defeated Duke twice in the stepladder finals of the 2018 Senior Masters to claim the title.

Blaine Weninger of Clackamas, Oregon, and USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III of Jackson, New Jersey, round out the top five with 3,440 and 3,410, respectively. is providing wire-to-wire livestream coverage of the event for USBC members age 50 and older.

McCune's block on the burn variation of this week's 40-foot lane condition Thursday started with a 268 game, but he quickly found his second pair playing drastically different.

He waited until his fill ball to make a move to the right, increase his ball speed and tighten his angle to the pocket to finish with 191.

Throughout his PBA Tour career, McCune has thrived on conditions that allow him to take advantage of his ball speed, and he was able to do so again Thursday, finishing with games of 300, 226 and 223 for a 1,208 total.

He added sets of 1,175 on the double-burn and 1,127 on the fresh. All bowlers in this year's field bowled one-five game set on each variation of the oil pattern.

"On the first pair, I was able to stand about two left and throw it anywhere to shoot 260," said McCune, a three-time PBA Tour champion. "On the next pair, I ended up moving 10 boards and also had the left lane playing weird. I figured if they were going to be that way, I'd try a fill ball out. It looked good, so I tried it on the next pair and never missed the pocket."

McCune retired from the PBA Tour after the 2016 season, but his time on the lanes has been picking up since he turned 50 last June. He won the 2018 PBA50 South Shore Open in his PBA50 debut as a non-member, and he's added a handful of regional events to his schedule in 2019.

Looking ahead to match play, McCune hopes his mindset throughout the week at Sam's Town will allow him to make quick moves during his three-game matches.

"I tried to not get caught up in playing one shot because a lot of pairs are different," McCune said. "If you go into match play thinking you're only going to play them one way, and they're not that way, you need to find something else really quick."

All bowlers at the 2019 Senior Masters competed in three five-game sets over three days to determine the 63 bowlers joining Warren in the double-elimination bracket. Match play will feature three-game total-pinfall contests to determine which players advance.

McCune will face Alvin Lou of El Cajon, California, in Friday's opening round, which will start at noon Eastern.

The left side of the bracket will hit the lanes first, while the right side of the bracket will get underway Friday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Lou finished tied for 63rd place with Las Vegas' Alan Frederick to earn the final spots in the bracket with matching 3,218 totals, a 214.53 average. Frederick will face Duke in the first round.

Match play will take place Friday and Saturday at Sam's Town until the top five bowlers are determined for Sunday's stepladder finals, which will take place at 1 p.m. Eastern. The winner will take home the $20,000 top prize.