California two-hander reaches goal at OC

RENO, Nev. -
Warren Crawford of McKinleyville, Calif., has been close to perfection several times over the course of his United States Bowling Congress Open Championships career, and he drew on those experiences Sunday night as he became the 31st bowler to roll a perfect game at the 2013 event.

The 35-year-old two-hander, who attacks the lane from the right side, began his team event at the National Bowling Stadium with a 193 game before striking on 22 of his next 24 shots on the way to games of 300 and 276 for a 769 series. His score helped Degenerate Bowlers of Redding, Calif., to a 3,284 tally. Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando, Fla., leads Regular Team with a record score of 3,538.

Crawford has dreamed of this moment on bowling's biggest stage for many years and has come close in the past. He has notched the first nine strikes on the championship lanes a handful of times but never has been able to finish it off.

"I've had the front nine probably three or four times," said Crawford, who made his 10th tournament appearance. "Nine always was as far as I could get. I don't know what it was. I tried to stay calm, but it was hard to stay calm on the last one. I was pretty amped up. It was a surreal feeling for me. It's a dream come true. I've wanted to shoot 300 here forever. I'm just happy it happened."

Crawford and his teammates worked together to open up the 41-foot Sport Bowling-certified oil pattern, and their scores showed that their persistence paid off. After a 984 start, Degenerate Bowlers rallied to totals of 1,139 and 1,161.

"Everybody tried to stay right as long as possible," said Crawford, who entered the 2013 event with a lifetime average of 213.6. "We tried to play up six to start out in practice and moved in a little bit to bump off the burn spot we made. It worked out well."

With the perfect game in the books, Crawford's next goal is to take home an Open Championships title. He nearly achieved that at the 2008 event in Albuquerque, N.M., where he finished fourth in Regular Singles with 779 and fifth in Regular All-Events with 2,159.

"I've wanted to win an eagle forever," Crawford said. "I came close in 2008 and have been hungry ever since. This was probably one of the best experiences in my bowling career. It means everything to me. I love coming here every year, and it means a lot to me to have my name up on the wall."

Crawford also found success at the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC as he prepared for his 2013 event. He paired with Willie Wells of Las Vegas and moved into third place in Open Doubles with a 1,463 total. Craig Nidiffer of Trenton, Mich., and Brett Shepherd of Louisville, Ky., lead with 1,474.

The Bowlers Journal Championships is being held in conjunction with the Open Championships for the 67th year, but this marks the first time the two events have been under the same roof. The Open Championships is being held on the first 64 lanes of the 78-lane NBS, while the BJ is being contested on lanes 69-78.

Earlier in the day at the Open Championships, Pete Thomas of Oklahoma City rolled a 299 game on way to a 705 series and helped Artistic Expressions 1 of Oklahoma City to games of 1,023, 1,203 and 1,199 for a 3,425 team total, the record 18th 3,400 of the year.

Thomas, who finished second behind USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. at last week's PBA50 Northern California Classic presented by Track, was joined on the lanes at the NBS on Sunday by Jimmy McMartin (764), Billy Young Jr. (683), Ted Pritts (659) and Xeno Garcia (614).

Thomas and his teammates will be featured on the final live stream broadcast of this year's Open Championships when they hit the lanes for doubles and singles Tuesday at 2 p.m. EDT, with the one-day delay being the result of a scheduling conflict.

Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.