BATON ROUGE, La. - If someone would have told Michael Sagers of Clearfield, Utah, he was going to roll the seventh perfect game of the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships on April Fools' Day, he wouldn't have believed it.
But, Sagers is a firm believer now.
The 33-year-old right-hander rolled 12 consecutive strikes during the second game of his team event at the Baton Rouge River Center on Sunday night. It was the first 300 recorded during team competition this year.
Sagers' 300 was sandwiched between games of 203 and 238 for a 741 series. His efforts helped A Case of the Grabs of Sacramento, Calif., to a 2,804 team total. Nicholas J's Pro Shop 2 of La Crosse, Wis., leads Regular Team with 3,401.
"I'm just excited," said Sagers, who made his third USBC Open Championships appearance. "This is the highlight of my life. A lot of people dream of shooting 300, and to do it is really special. It's the national tournament. It's pretty special to do it here. It was a lot of fun, I'd have to say."
Sagers is no stranger to shooting 300, but the moment can be amplified on the grand stage of the Open Championships. The amount of people who stop and watch can be an intimidating factor.
"It's just like any other 300," said Sagers, who is a Special Procedures Technologist at Intermountain Healthcare in Ogden, Utah. "I just told myself that I've been here before, and I tried to think as if there was no difference. I got up there, took a deep breath and went. It was kind of fun to have that amount of people watching and cheering. That's something I haven't experienced before. Plus, my teammates were rooting me on, and my wife, Lori, recorded it for me. I definitely have to thank her for all of her support."
Sagers will always be in the Open Championships record books for his feat, but he also might be remembered for the date he achieved perfection. It's something he never would have believed had he not been the one to make history.
"I would have said no way," said Sagers, who bowls at Davis Lanes in Layton, Utah. "I wouldn't have believed it. My wife texted my ball rep, and he thought it was an April Fools' joke. He had to see the video to believe it. It's kind of funny that it happened on April Fools' Day. It gives it a little more humor."
Sagers also began the third game with five consecutive strikes, giving hope to becoming the second bowler in history to roll back-to-back 300s. Ron Bahr of Topeka, Kan., is the only bowler to achieve the feat (2003 singles).
"Unfortunately, I did think about that a little bit," Sagers said. "I mean, how could you not? You start with the front five, and you feel like you have something that no one else has. After the sixth frame, everything just eased off, and I tried not to make a bad shot the rest of the way. I had the right ball. I made a move at the end of the first game, and everything opened up for me. It's just one of those things."
Because of work commitments and lack of a team, Sagers didn't make his Open Championships debut until 2009 when some friends he met at a Japanese American National Bowling Association tournament invited him to bowl.
Sagers now looks forward to the opportunity to compete against more than 60,000 of the best bowlers from across the country every year.
"The very first time, in Las Vegas, I was hooked," Sagers said. "I want to compete. If you can do something to put yourself on such a prestigious list, it's incredible. There are 300s shot everyday on house shots, but to do it here, where it's a little bit more difficult, gives it more meaning. Obviously, my goal is to win an eagle, but not everybody gets a chance to do that. If I get lucky enough to do that one day, so be it. If not, I'm okay with that, too."
Sagers closed out his 2012 tournament campaign with 644 in singles and 541 in doubles for a 1,926 all-events total.
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.