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Bowling News USA - January 23, 2012 The Schlemer Report - Bayer Viper Open

What can I say about the Bayer Viper Open other than it was an adventure on the lanes. Going in we knew there was the potential for the lane condition to get ugly based on how the players wanted to attack it. Since this pattern is only 37 feet in length, usually straighter is greater. But that is not always the case, especially when you mix the high rev rate of a guy like Sean Rash, and the super straight angles of Mike Fagan. With that in mind, we had to devise the best plans of attack for Stu Williams and Ildemaro Ruiz. Both players have unique rolls which allow them to do things that others can’t. Stu gets the good early and heavy roll due to his release point, while Ildemaro is at his best when he can stay firm and hit straight up the back of the ball.

From the practice session the day before, we knew Stu Williams would most likely be using the pin-up Victory Road Solid that had a bunch of games on it. It was oil soaked and did not over react when it read friction down lane. Not to mention it is one of Stu’s all-time favorite balls. I guess you could say the Victory Road Solid is more of a security blanket than anything. I think he has since drilled a few more and carries five of them with him at all times now on the PBA tour. After the practice session for this show I wanted to give him some more options so we drilled a fresh Victory Road Solid with the same layout. I also asked to drill him a Tropical Heat Solid with the same layout just in case he needed a step down. As it turned out, the Tropical Heat was definitely a good addition to the bag for sure. Opposite Stu, we had the youngster from Venezuela, Ildemaro Ruiz. In the practice session the day before he too felt he had a good look with a ball that had a ton of games on it; a Victory Road. It didn’t over react and gave him a few different angles. The only ball we decided to add to the bag for him was a Hy-Road. The thought behind that was it has similar core numbers, but the hybrid cover sees the lane a little differently.

As practice time before the show counted down, both Stu and Ildemaro had decent looks on the lanes. We knew early on that the left lane could get tricky, so we paid extra attention to it. Not sure why exactly other than it was an arena install and usually one lane plays differently. This was definitely the case. Also factor in that both Stu and Ildemaro just happened to be comfortable between the two Americans, Fagan and Rash.  Fagan had the high hard one working from out; while Rash and his high rev rate was left of the pack hitting it for all it was worth. As it turns out, the up the back with a little bit of tilt was the better option on this day. Advantage team international!

Once the lanes transitioned after the first game, it was apparent that the key was going to be who could figure out the two different lanes and stay ahead of the moves. If you watched the show, you witnessed each player get a little confused. The left lane never really seemed to blend out like the right lane. So when the guys tried to move in on the left lane, the ball would blow past the breakpoint. And if they tried to play the friction too quickly to the gutter, there was no telling where the ball would go.  Between the second game and final game, we knew Stu needed to stay in the little tube that had developed on that left lane, but the Victory Road Solid was too much ball. When he softened up it jumped and when he threw it hard it was 50/50 on hitting the pocket. That is how he ended up in the Tropical Heat on the left lane. He was able to soften up a little on that lane and it wouldn’t read too early. While on the right lane, the Tropical Heat was close, but he felt more comfortable using his old trusty Victory Road Solid. I don’t argue with comfort, if that is what the players feels is good, that is what we go with. I’m a big fan of the player not second guessing themselves. No one knows their game better than a bowler; self-trust is a must.

To be honest, the way Ildemaro started the title game I figured he had it figured out and would be the one to beat. As usual, I thought too soon as he let the bad frame in the fifth carry over to the left lane where he whiffed a ten pin for back to back opens. In all my years as rep, back to back opens has usually not turned into a victory, so I could see the writing on the wall. Unfortunately so could Ildemaro. After he got all that out of his system, it was too late. Stu capitalized with a five bagger and never looked back. During the last few frames, Stu stayed focused on filling frames because he knew he had it in the bag. It was a historic day as Stu Williams became the first European to win a PBA Tour title. Its official, the international invasion of the PBA tour is in full effect!

Stu Williams - Tropical Heat and Victory Road Solid

Ildemaro Ruiz - Victory Road and Hy-Road

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