Lost amid the excitement over the unforgettable finish to Sunday’s PBA Lubbock Sports Open show was the equally unforgettable spare clinic Kyle Troup served up in the meantime. In his three matches, Troup converted 16 spares across 28 consecutive clean frames. Of those 16 spares, eight involved combinations of at least three pins, including a 2-4-10 split conversion. Two were six-counts — one bucket and one 3-4-6-7 split, both converted with aplomb.
Troup’s spare game helped him win two matches on the show even though he posted more than two consecutive strikes only once, when he ended his match against Michael Tang with his lone four-bagger. Other than that, the best he did strike-wise was a double. And even then, he only tossed three of those through three games — one in the 10th in his opening-match victory over Rhino Page, one in frames 3 and 4 against Tang, and one in frames 5 and 6 against Dick Allen in the semifinal.
Though Troup is a celebrity now who gets stories written about him on TMZ--they dig the fro in celebrity gossip land, it turns out--he took the time to speak yesterday with BJI Editor Gianmarc Manzione about the extraordinary spare-shooting skill he displayed on FS1 Sunday. The conversation tuned into a wide-ranging interview in which Troup explained why his opening-round score was the hardest 198 he ever has bowled in his life, why the Specto stats in use on the show this season are helping disprove lingering stereotypes about two-handers such as himself, why he thinks pinsetter noise may have distracted Allen on his nearly disastrous final shot against Rash in the title match, and much more. Here is the full conversation . . .
In your opening match against Rhino, you converted three consecutive seven-count spares in frames three through five, then you converted a bucket in your 7th, and a 3-6-9 in your 9th. Have you ever had to work that hard just to shoot 198?
First off, I was extremely happy that I bowled a clean game. I was looking up and seeing all these sevens and yes, that was probably the hardest clean game I’ve ever bowled. Especially to be on TV. But I knew the game was close. I thought Rhino didn’t have the best ball reaction. Then he missed that spare [a 7-pin in his 9th]. I think I proved that I can grind too whenever it gets ugly. That was a big confidence boost, the result and how the whole show finished. There wasn’t a second that I was upset after losing to Dick because of how I lost. I didn’t have a 279. My game was over; it wasn’t my day. It was Dick’s day and that definitely showed with how the show ended. My dad [eight-time PBA Tour titlist Guppy] always said, “When it’s your day, it’s your day.” That was Dick’s day, and he earned it.
Speaking of Dick “earning it,” you faced a similar situation in your match against Rhino because he whiffed a 7-pin spare in his 9th. Do you think you defeated Rhino because he whiffed a single-pin spare late in the match, or because of all the spare conversions that kept you close before that moment to put yourself in position to take advantage of his error?
Rhino did miss a spare in the 9th, but if I don’t convert all those spares, then that miss doesn’t really matter. I definitely feel like I won that match. Yes, he did give me the opportunity, but then I still had to step up in the 10th and fill the frame at least. I feel like the spare shooting is what kept me in it, hoping my opponent would make a mistake, because that’s what I was thinking, knowing I didn’t have the best ball reaction. I wanted to catch the break and then show up when I needed to.
So then, in Dick’s case, do you think he won because Rash whiffed that 10-pin in the 10th, or because he bowled well enough to put himself in a position to take advantage of Rash’s error?
That was probably one of the craziest matches I have seen. The momentum shifted a few different times, especially out of the gate with Dick making a bad shot on the right lane when he missed the headpin after having such a good reaction. And not striking in his first frame. I think that alone was a relief for Sean and an early kick-start for him, but ultimately the 4-10 where he didn’t get any count was a big difference. If he gets the 4-pin, then Sean ends up winning the tournament by one. But the ultimate mistake in the 10th, that happens once a year, maybe twice a year we see that on TV. It just happened to be Dick’s time. Yes, he did get the lucky break rolling the 2-pin, but then after that he threw it pretty well. And honestly, I feel like Dick might have gotten caught by the pinsetter on that last shot because it never really stopped cycling; it was making a noise that hadn’t happened the whole show, and you can hear it in his fourth step and he got eight. It may not have caught him at all, but I definitely heard it. It was a different sound than we had heard the entire day. But also, Dick didn’t want to throw it in the gutter, so he might have been squeezing it a little bit. Eight wasn’t the easiest count to get on that short pattern. You couldn’t ask for a better ending to the whole thing. I would definitely say the mistake by Sean was the ultimate momentum swing. I mean, a missed 10-pin followed by a rolled 2-pin. You can’t ask for a bigger momentum swing than that.
Overall, the spare-shooting clinic you put on throughout your time on the show was an extraordinary thing to behold.
Yeah, that was a little different than my normal TV experience. It was fun. I didn’t really have the best look on the left lane throughout the week on the fresh, so I knew I was probably going to see some struggles, though I didn’t expect that much. But that was a lot of fun, especially for the crowd, making splits and stuff. They really get into it once you start making some and then they’re expecting and it and then it happens. It was all just a really cool experience, and the crowd was really loud too. That was probably one of the loudest I’ve seen in a while.
After you converted the 2-4-10 split in your 8th against Tang in the second match, you ripped off a four-bagger. Was that at least party due to the kind of adrenaline rush you just alluded to as that loud crowd fed off of your performance?
When I made that split in the 8th I knew I needed to in order to have any sort of chance. Off my hand, I felt like I made it. Sometimes I get in a zone where I pick off the splits left and right, and that obviously helped me get into it with the crowd, but I was trying to keep my emotions in check because I knew that if I was given the opportunity, I would need to strike out. I knew I needed to make the ball change against Michael in the 10th because what I had just wasn’t going to cut it. That was the move I had to make, and that is a ball change that I will remember for a very long time. And I didn’t want to give him a chance on the right lane because I knew he had a good look on the short pattern. I thought the short pattern was my strength throughout the week just because I was playing it different than anyone else, throwing it slow with urethane throughout match play. The short pattern didn’t change much for me from lane to lane, whereas the people throwing resin equipment, I didn’t really see the drastic differences they did.
I bet. How much courage does it take to make a ball change in the 10th frame in a must-strike situation?
I experienced something like that in the World Championships [with Team USA] in the Masters portion to make the show. We were bowling on a really curving pattern and I made a ball change in the 10th and threw a double to win. So, I had done it before. Obviously, the stage is different on tour, but with only five frames per lane you don’t have time to second-guess. After I left that 2-4-10 I looked at Jim [Callahan of Storm] and we gave each other a look, like, ‘Yeah, that ball’s done. We’re not going to throw that again.’ You just have to make the decision and go with it, trust that you’re going to be able to move left and it’s going to hook back, and it did. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the next match against Dick, just because I felt like I had finally figured out the left lane. That was a ball that I had been doing a lot of my striking with throughout the week, so I was feeling pretty comfortable going into the semifinal.
What was it about that left lane and the Scorpion pattern that gave you problems?
I think that, for me, I was just in the wrong bowling balls. I was just seeing the wrong shape; we were kind of going with the wrong angle. Originally, I was trying to play the hold, so I was throwing slower, smoother bowling balls, but that just never gave me any down-lane reaction. So, I had to get out of those, and like I said, once I made the ball change I felt pretty comfortable. I still made a bad shot, but I felt like I caught a bad break also in the match against Dick early on that kind of let off the pressure a little bit, knowing he had a good look on both lanes. Just seeing the wrong shape, attacking the lane the wrong way. It happens sometimes. We were able to work through it and find a winning shape but I just happened to run into a buzzsaw.
Do you make a point of practicing splits and multi-pin spares?
No. Honestly, I'm not really a person that practices spares. I was having this conversation with Nate [Garcia], my roommate, last night. We were just talking about how I'm a big feel player when it comes to spares. I'm not really very precise on my targeting for spares. I feel like I'm a very good spare-shooter and I just pretty much go off of feel. If I am bowling well, I'm making spares too. I feel like missing spares is more of a result of a lack of focus, so I normally don't practice them. But, whenever I am making splits, that tells me that I'm throwing it good. The first two weeks of the year, I didn't make a single 2-10 or 3-4-6-7. I didn't make any of those. In Lubbock I started making splits and I bowled a little better. I think it all works hand-in-hand.
That's fascinating. So you gauge how well you are throwing the ball based off of how many splits you are converting?
Yeah. It's just something I think about in the back of my head. It's not like a big stat I keep track of or anything like that. I can't remember what bowler told me that, but they pretty much said the same thing, and ever since then I've always kind of thought about that. If I pick off the 2-10 or the 4-9, I think, 'OK, we're throwing it alright today.' But, the tournaments where I'm not even close to making splits, it's a frustrating day most of the time.
Do you think the spare-shooting clinic you put on during the Lubbock show helped correct the stereotypes some people harbor about two-handers, which is that they spray the ball and strike a lot but don’t have the spare-shooting chops of traditional bowlers?
Yeah. I feel like, not only my spare shooting, but just the Specto stats in general. And not just myself, but Matt Ogle, Belmonte, Jesper, all the two-handers who have made the TV show so far [this season]. When you look at the Specto stats, it’s pretty much proven that we might miss one or two boards but we are not spraying it all over the lane. I think Specto has been one of the biggest additions this year. I think that can really spread a lot of knowledge about the game and how accurate all our players are. And you also see what happens when somebody misses by four boards down-lane, as you saw several times yesterday — myself included. Making the splits was fun and shows that I’m pretty accurate, but I think the Specto stats speak for themselves throughout all the appearances two-handers have made on the show so far this season.
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