Defending champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., and top qualifier Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., are among the 16 players in the winners bracket after the first day of match play at the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters.
Also undefeated at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wis., are 2012 USBC Senior Masters winner, Mike Edwards of Tulsa, Okla., and a trio of hall of famers, Amleto Monacelli of Aventura, Fla., left-hander Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., and Brian Voss of Centennial, Colo.
In his second match Friday, Williams found himself down 38 pins after two games against fellow USBC Hall of Famer Rick Steelsmith of Wichita, Kan., but he battled back and sealed the win with a strike on the first shot of his final frame after Steelsmith opened the door with a pair of late opens.
“Rick was bowling a great match, and I told Parker [Bohn III] I’d need a minor miracle if I was going to beat him,” said Williams, who outscored Steelsmith 258-201 in the final game and won the match 704-685. “He was a little off the last few frames, and that gave me a chance, which I was able to take advantage of.”
Last year’s USBC Senior Masters victory also came down to a dramatic finish, in which Williams collapsed the 2-4-5 combination to log a must-have strike in his final frame against Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y.
A two-time winner at the USBC Masters (2004 and 2010) as well, the 55-year-old Williams knows success in the unique format sometimes requires a combination of good timing and good fortune, along with great bowling.
“Fortunately, I bowled two great sets today and won them both, but I definitely made some bad shots along the way,” Williams said. “I like what I did today, and I made good shots when I needed to. You don’t have to bowl the best when it comes to this event, you just need to make the shots at the right time. I feel like I bowled decent yesterday, and better today, which is what you want.”
In the opening round, Williams defeated Ted Staikoff of Black Hawk, S.D., 715-652.
For Weber, 52, his two wins Friday were just a continuation of the success he’s had in Green Bay, which includes leading every round of qualifying on the way to a third-place finish at the 2015 Masters in February and a dominating performance through qualifying this week.
Weber defeated No. 64 seed Bill Sell of Menasha, Wis., 664-616, and then downed southpaw Mark Abraham of Lansing, Mich., 650-588.
Match play continues Saturday with all 16 winners returning to the lanes at 10 a.m. Eastern. Weber will take on Tracy Teeters of Eugene, Ore., while Williams faces Robert Brown of Cody, Wyo. Brown rolled the only 300 game of the week during the second round of qualifying.
The 16 competitors remaining in the elimination bracket also will be back on the lanes Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern.
All rounds of match play are being broadcast live on BowlTV and will conclude with the stepladder finals Sunday at noon Eastern.
Competitors at the Senior Masters, open to all USBC members age 50 and older, rolled 15 qualifying games over three days before the field was cut from 194 to the top 63, who joined Williams in match play.
The Senior Masters is the first of three USBC tournaments that will take place in Green Bay in the coming week. Senior Masters bowlers are competing for a $16,000 top prize from an estimated prize fund of nearly $115,000.
The Senior Masters will be followed by the International Training and Research Center Super Senior Classic, the premier event for USBC members age 60 and older, and the USBC Senior Championships, which will bring bowlers from across the United States and Canada.
All qualifying and match-play rounds at the Super Senior Classic also will be broadcast live on BowlTV.
To watch the Senior Masters and Super Senior Classic live, visit YouTube.com/BowlTV.