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Expectations met at PBA Pro-Am

By DEREK LaRIVIERE
Published July 28, 2006


SPRING HILL - Going into the 18th Annual PBA Pro-Am Tournament at Spring Hill Lanes last week, my expectations were those of any other mid-level amateur bowler.

My goal was to put up a respectable showing and not embarrass myself in front of professionals from PBA's Southern Region. This would be my first opportunity to compete on the professional oil pattern, and being a first-year bowler with a 159 average, my first priority was to not have that one game where I dip below a 100 and completely lose it.

The format for the Pro-Am: Six amateurs compete on each pair of lanes as professional bowlers cycle through so the amateurs compete with a different pro each game. With the no-tap format in play, a nine-count on the first ball of any frame would count as strike - a rule I soon found was not so easy to take advantage of.

The first professional I encountered was Gary Lambert, a PBA South regular from Orlando. Lambert threw a light ball and struggled finding his line at first. Still, he pulled it out in the end, finishing with a respectable 224.

I, too, had some trouble in the first game of the three-game set. I moved around looking for a good place to roll my ball across the oil for the first four or five frames. I finally settled on a shot where I was throwing the ball about 22 miles per hour across the lane.

It worked well enough to net me a 149 for the string. I had only one nine-pin strike in that game. It would be my only such mark for the rest of the series.

Erik Ramos, another Orlando resident, was the second pro to grace the lanes. The 26-year-old Ramos was the most decorated of the three bowlers who competed with me in the Pro-Am, with one PBA tournament title under his belt.

I began to find my groove in the second game, tallying a 169 after striking out in the 10th frame. Ramos shot a very impressive 265, so that may have motivated me more than the first game.

Ramos was great to bowl with. He was talkative and down to earth. He complimented everyone on the lane from one shot to the next and was constantly high-fiving the bowlers after strikes and spares. Not that the other two pros were anti-social, but none were as talkative as Ramos.

The final PBA bowler to come over was Mike Austin. Austin struggled far more than the other two pros before him. He registered only a 172, and he had to have a strong finish to accomplish that.

My shot strategy changed in the third game when I began to have problems. I took a lot of speed off of the ball and began to shoot even farther across the lane. Eventually my adjustments worked, and I once again ended with a 149.

The series total was good enough for me to come in 51st out of a Spring Hill Lanes record 267-bowler field, something I took great pride in. Bowling with professionals and watching them make the same adjustments and have the same difficulties as the rest of the amateurs in the tournament was really enlightening. The entire experience gave me immeasurable confidence, and I cannot wait to do it all over again for the 19th Annual PBA Pro-Am Tournament.

[Last modified July 28, 2006, 06:41:48]


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