Kentucky bowler breaks through at USBC Open

RENO, Nev. - Marc Massie of Alexandria, Ky., said he always has struggled to get comfortable in the team event at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but everything fell into place for him at the National Bowling Stadium on Friday.

The 44-year-old right-hander bowled better as the day progressed on the way to games of 223, 236 and 300 for a 759 series, the highest set in any event during his 17-year USBC Open Championships career. It was the 18th perfect game of this year's tournament and lifted Ebonite Fehr Calhoun to a 3,229 team total.

Massie has flirted with perfection on the championship lanes before, including a 279 effort in the first game of his tournament career, which started at the NBS in 1995.

"The reason I'm so jacked up right now is because I've always struggled in the team event and never gotten comfortable or gotten a great reaction," Massie said. "I had more confidence along the way today, and my reaction was very stable, so I was able to get comfortable. This is something I'll be able to enjoy for the rest of my life. A lot of 300s may be forgotten, but this one is special."

StormCincinnati2014OC465x262As Massie was putting the finishing touches on his 300 game, Ebonite Fehr Calhoun's companion team, Storm Cincinnati, was a few lanes away making a run at history.

The decision to bowl on different pairs was made a few years ago because they struggled with the way the lanes broke down when they bowled together. Sharing the lanes with other teams seems to have worked out for both halves of the group.

The experienced Storm Cincinnati team opened the day with games of 1,112 and 1,104 before nearly chasing down the highest team game in 111 years of Open Championships competition.

All five threw at least two strikes in the final frame, but they came up just short, finishing with 1,285, the second-highest game in tournament history. They moved into fifth place in Regular Team with a 3,501 total. Motion Plus Lanes of Cudahy, Wis., leads with a record score of 3,561, while of Naugatuck, Conn., owns the single-game record of 1,299, rolled earlier this year at the NBS.

Ron Pollard Jr., the newest member of Storm Cincinnati, set the pace with a 761 series and was followed by Eddie Graham Jr. (696), Jeff Fehr (689), Ken Jessee (680) and Ken Abner (675).

Abner and Jessee were part of the team, then known as Browning Pontiac, that claimed the Regular Team title in 2006 and Team All-Events crown in 2007. Fehr was on their companion team at the time but took a lot away from the experience of being so close to that success, which included his father, USBC Hall of Famer Steve Fehr.

"Execution and communication were the keys today, and we talked to each other after each shot," Jeff Fehr said. "We got on a roll the last game, and it fell into place for us. RJ (Pollard) was our rock today, and having two champions on the team with so much experience really helps. I was on the companion team both of the years they won, and there's nothing that can make up for that experience. Now, we're hoping to build on what they've already done here."

Now, Massie and his teammates are hoping to carry their momentum into doubles and singles, which will bring on the challenge of a new lane condition. The team event at the 2014 Open Championships is being contested on a 43-foot Sport-certified oil pattern, and doubles and singles features a 40-foot pattern.

Massie typically feels more comfortable during doubles and singles, and he's got extra confidence after his team performance. He also has spent some time this week at the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, which uses the same pattern he'll see on the main tournament lanes Sunday morning at 1:30 a.m. EDT.

"After bowling at the Bowlers Journal, we now have a good idea about how the lanes are going to break down, so we're going to come in tomorrow and go after it," said Massie, who finished tied for fifth in Regular Doubles last year with Patrick Dombrowski. "Learning about the pattern and having the extra confidence after a 760 start has me really looking forward to tomorrow."

Anthony LaCaze of Melrose Park, Ill., leads Regular All-Events this year with 2,273, while Janz's H.I. of Beaver Dam, Wis., leads Team All-Events with 10,363.

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