LAS VEGAS - While the final scores may have been significantly different, the situations were identical, and defending champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Missouri, rose to the occasion in both instances to remain undefeated after two rounds of match play at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters.
The 54-year-old right-hander, who was the undefeated top seed for the stepladder finals at the USBC Senior Masters in 2015 and 2016, is one of 16 unbeaten players this week at the Sam's Town Bowling Center.
Among the other winners are USBC Hall of Famers Lennie Boresch Jr. of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida, Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, Sam Lantto of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and international stars Mika Koivuniemi of Finland and Junichi Yajima of Japan.
Competition resumes Saturday at noon Eastern with both winners-bracket and elimination-bracket matches.
Weber doubled in the final frame of each of his three-game matches Friday to secure wins over Robert Worrall of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Chris Warren of Grants Pass, Oregon, but he will be the first to tell you his success in those moments was as much about fortune as it was about skillfully handling pressure situations.
"This tournament, and the regular (USBC) Masters, are a lot about luck of the draw, who you bowl and when, and what each pair of lanes is giving you at that time," said Weber, the 2013 and 2016 Senior Masters champion. "But, more than anything, if you don't get some breaks along the way, you're probably going to have a hard time winning. Today, I was fortunate to get a few breaks, and I was able to capitalize on those."
On the second shot of his final frame against Worrall, the 1981 QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup champion, Weber's ball drifted high and had as much chance of being a 4-6-7-10 split as it did being a match-winning strike. He escaped with a 588-579 victory.
The Weber-Warren match was much different, with Weber entering the final game with a 555-526 advantage, following 300 in Game 2. Warren, the 1990 USBC Masters champion, also started that game with eight consecutive strikes, before a 10 pin in the ninth frame ended his run.
In the finale, Weber failed to strike on the right lane in his first four attempts, but a Brooklyn strike in the ninth frame gave him a break he was glad to take advantage of. He added a double in the 10th frame to lock out Warren and advance with a 781-774 win.
"Robert and I both struggled in the first match, and I was lucky enough to come away with the win, but I knew I needed to quickly refocus heading into the match with Chris," said Weber, a USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer. "I just lost the look on the right lane the last game. I moved left in the ninth frame and thought I threw it well, and I ended up going Brooklyn. When the 6 pin went down late, I felt really bad, but I didn't. You need breaks like that if you're going to be successful at this tournament. What I did after that was capitalize on it."
Weber will face Scott Kraye of La Habra, California, in his first match Saturday morning.
Koivuniemi, who turned 50 in April, also experienced some good fortune in his second match Friday, rolling a 2 pin on the first shot of his final frame against USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss of Centennial, Colorado. It was Koivuniemi's third consecutive strike and gave him the chance to shut out Voss.
Koivuniemi left a 10 pin on his second offering and converted it, forcing Voss to throw three strikes for a one-pin victory. Voss left a 10 pin on his first shot to fall, 702-692.
Competition hasn't been Koivuniemi's priority in recent years, as he has turned his attention toward coaching. He is the head coach of the United Arab Emirates national team.
Although he has not been able to stay as sharp as he was when he competed regularly on the PBA Tour, he has relied some simple things to stay in contention.
"I haven't bowled much in the last two years, but I practiced for about four weeks in preparation for this and the (Suncoast PBA Senior) U.S. Open," Koivuniemi said. "I feel pretty good, but I've lost some of my touch, which makes certain things difficult. I'm happy because my game is pretty simple, and my lines are straight, so I can still hit my target pretty well when I'm throwing it well. I'm still in the winners bracket, which is good, but I have another tough match coming up with one of the best in Walter Ray."
The two-time PBA Player of the Year and 2000 Masters champion will face Williams, the 2014 Senior Masters champion, in Saturday's third round.
All 277 competitors at the 2017 Senior Masters bowled 15 games over three days to determine the 63 bowlers who joined Weber in the double-elimination match-play bracket.
All rounds of qualifying and match play are being broadcast live on BowlTV, and the five players who advance through the bracket will battle for the title and $16,000 top prize in the stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
The Senior Masters is open to USBC members age 50 and older.
For complete standings or more information on the Senior Masters, visit BOWL.com/SeniorMasters.
2017 USBC SENIOR MASTERS
At Sam's Town Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Double elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall
(Winners remain in winners bracket. Losers move to elimination bracket).
(64) Brian Voss, Centennial, Colo., def. (1) Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 774-703
(32) Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. (33) Ted Staikoff, Black Hawk, S.D., 719-601
(17) Joe Salvemini, Yuba City, Calif., def. (48) Scott Merritt, Iowa City, Iowa, 622-536
(16) Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., def. (48) Ricky Schissler, Brighton, Colo., 731-533
(56) Christer Petersson, Sweden, def. (9) Paul McCordic, Sugar Land, Texas, 715-710
(41) Darryl Dempsey, St. Petersburg, Fla., def. (24) Mark Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 637-575
(40) Marv Sargent, Temecula, Calif., def. (25) Billy Langford, Lone Grove, Okla., 644-605
(57) Roger Kossert, Lithia, Fla., def. (8) Doug Becker, Clermont, Fla., 587-566
(5) Brian LeClair, Delmar, N.Y., def. (60) Gerald Sikora, Huron, S.D., 715-584
(28) Brian Kretzer, Kettering, Ohio, def. (37) William Nichols, Bella Vista, Ark., 682-610
(21) Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., def. (44) Ron Mohr, North Las Vegas, Nev., 694-628
(12) Eddie Graham, Centerville, Ohio, def. (53) Tim Shirlock, Las Vegas, 607-561
(52) Jeff Suma Sr., Auburn Hills, Mich., def. (13) David Cirigliano, Phoenix, 675-670
(20) Junichi Yajima, Japan, def. (45) Charles Vashaw, Deephaven, Minn., 774-695
(29) Tish Johnson, Colorado Springs, Colo., def. (36) David Smith, Fort Worth, Texas, 645-567
(4) Bob Learn Jr., Boynton Beach, Fla., def. (61) Bruce Hall, Westborough, Mass., 721-606
(62) John Chovanec, Sugar Land, Texas, def. (3) Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 706-609
(30) Sam Lantto, Eden Prairie, Minn., def. (35) Lewis Elting, Carlsbad, Calif., 709-584
(19) Mark Williams, Beaumont, Texas, def. (46) Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., 722-606
(14) Andy Neuer, Lewisburg, Pa., def. (51) John Burkett, Southlake, Texas, 732-679
(11) Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, def. (54) Rick Minier, Houston, 609-567
(22) Lennie Boresch Jr., Kenosha, Wis., def. (43) Mark McCreary, Livermore, Calif., 615-612
(38) Ernie Segura, Taylor, Mich., def. (27) James Campbell, Clearwater, Fla., 655-524
(59) James Wallace, Hicksville, N.Y., def. (6) John Dougherty III, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., 654-638
(7) John DeBenedetta, Las Vegas, def. (58) Dave Sill, Titusville, Fla., 601-541
(26) Tony Rodriguez Jr., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., def. (39) Kevin Croucher, Grants Pass, Ore., 682-659
(42) Brian Cooper, Henderson, Nev., def. (23) Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Wash., 684-660
(55) Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., def. (10) Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 748-743
(50) Andrew Frawley, Australia, def. (15) Michael Tountas, Tucson, Ariz., 717-515
(47) Scott Kraye, La Habra, Calif., def. (18) Curt Rasnic, Fairborn, Ohio, 761-702
(31) Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., def. (34) Dana Wright, St. Paul, Minn., 585-558
(2) Pete Weber, St. Ann, Missouri, def. (63) Robert Worrall II, Colorado Springs, Colo., 588-579
ROUND 2 - WINNERS BRACKET
Koivuniemi def. Voss, 702-692
W.R. Williams def. Salvemini, 761-648
Dempsey def. Petersson, 691-611
Kossert def. Sargent, 623-609
LeClair def. Kretzer, 623-586
Graham def. Shafer, 707-663
Yajima def. Suma, 662-596
Learn def. Johnson, 719-710
Chovanec def. Lantto, 704-676
Neuer def. M. Williams, 713-557
Boresch def. Mike Scroggins, 701-676
Wallace def. Segura, 613-602
Rodriguez def. DeBenedetta, 642-615
Duke def. Cooper, 782-624
Kraye def. Frawley, 709-595
Weber def. Warren, 781-774
ROUND 2 - ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $1,000)
Bohn def. Staikoff, 765-759
Becker def. Langford, 695-649
Merritt def. Schissler, 584-550
McCordic def. Mark Scroggins, 707-575
Nichols def. Sikora, 742-691
Smith def. Hall, 674-577
Mohr def. Shirlock, 622-514
Vashaw def. Cirigliano, 686-597
Elting def. Monacelli, 561-561 (Elting won one-ball roll-off, 10-10, 10-8)
Dougherty def. Campbell, 648-563
Goebel def. Burkett, 624-611
McCreary def. Minier, 636-625
Sill def. Croucher, 575-521
Wright def. Worrall, 596-570
Miller def. Haugen, 697-691
Rasnic def. Tountas, 596-522
ROUND 3 - ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $1,100)
Bohn def. M. Williams, 784-686
Becker def. Mike Scroggins, 664-657
Lantto def. Merritt, 684-583
McCordic def. Segura, 650-610
Nichols def. Cooper, 665-577
Smith def. Frawley, 633-630
Mohr def. DeBenedetta, 695-653
Vashaw def. Warren, 677-668
Salvemini def. Elting, 606-550
Petersson def. Dougherty, 595-527
Goebel def. Voss, 732-719
Sargent def. McCreary, 635-624
Shafer def. Sill, 694-615
Wright def. Suma, 674-632
Kretzer def. Miller, 747-697
Johnson def. Rasnic, 732-573