Bowling News USA - March 1, 2012 The Schlemer Report - The 69th US Open
Where do I begin? If you would have told me before I left to go help new ball rep Del Ballard and the boys that Storm would win in Columbus, and then turn around and have three of four on the show at the 69th U.S. Open, I probably would have called you crazy. But now after the fact, I would give you a high five and say “good call.” I mean I am still a little shocked at how everything has transpired. But in all honesty, with the talent the Storm Nation has, it is no surprise that we ended up winning our 10th PBA title of the season. That is out of a possible 12 in case you are keeping score at home.
I mean from day one of the Open, the word that Del and I tried to pound in the staff’s heads was “patience.” There are too many games in that event to waste energy and emotions on silly stuff or getting upset. I told Del there is a reason our guys do so well in this event each year. We have to remind them constantly that they cannot win this event until the title match on Sunday. So that is what we set out to do, and well, it worked to a tee.
Eventual fourth place finisher Ryan Shafer led the charge all week for Team Storm. At one point he held a 200+ lead over second place. Unfortunately, even though he excels every year at this event, the number of games wear on him physically. Throughout the week he used a wide variety of balls and had a look that most could only dream of on the lanes. He used a Virtual Gravity Nano, Marvel, Modern Marvel, Marvel Pearl, Victory Road Solid, and Victory Road, Defiant, Critical Theory, and Outlaw. Not to mention more often than not, he used a different ball on each lane. That is just how he saw the lanes and how he felt comfortable playing them.
Third place finisher Jason Belmonte battled some timing issues early in the week before finally settling in and making his run to the show. Belmo used a Virtual Gravity Nano, Hy-Road, and Victory Road Solid, Critical Theory, Nomad Dagger, and Outlaw. As you can see he needed fewer balls than Shafer largely in part to his rev rate and ball speed. There were plenty of times throughout the week where Del or I would suggest a ball change and Belmo would say, “I’m alright mate, I can just toss it a little harder and control the breakpoint.” Sure enough, that is exactly what he did. Sometimes that two-handed style has its advantages for sure.
Then we get to the man that made bowling history by capturing his fifth career U.S. Open title, surpassing his legendary father Dick Weber and the great Don Carter. Was there ever a doubt that the man known as PDW would win again? To be honest I know there were some skeptics out there that truly thought his days were over, well I guess he proved them wrong yet again. Call it experience, call it god given ability, call it whatever you want, the final frame in the 69th U.S. Open will go down in bowling history as one of the greatest bowling moments ever. I truly believe that. I have now been a part of six Storm U.S. Open victories, three with Weber, two with Duke, and one with Mike Scroggins. No matter the winner, it boils down to the ability to be patient and grind through the long and grueling format. You can ask any one of the staffers or free agents that Del or I chatted with last week; you have to stay calm and let it happen.
After practice session, I went to the truck and drilled Pete a couple balls to help get him going for the week. We decided that even though we liked the pin-down drillings, we did not like those drillings with extra holes down. So I drilled him a Modern Marvel and an Anarchy with the pin-down and extra hole straight across on his axis. Turned out the Anarchy was the trick, early in the week. Then off of that I drilled him a Critical Theory with the same layout as well. That too served as a ball of choice for numerous games. When it came time for Pete to bowl on the “burn” squad (the second squad of each of the first three days that did not get fresh oil), I drilled him a Frantic and a Victory Road with the pin way down and the extra hole down. This layout has given PDW success over the years when he has to move deep inside and get his ball around the corner. As it turned out, the Frantic was the magical ball that helped him finish his last couple of games on the burn squad and never saw the lane again. Well that is until it mattered most. From there I actually duplicated the Anarchy, Marvel Pearl, and Critical Theory and even drilled a Defiant for good measure. I mean, it is the U.S. Open; you can never have too many options.
As the week went on, I made sure that I kept the thought of “patience” in the front of Weber’s head, just so he wouldn’t forget. Between his brother Rich back home in St. Louis, Del, me, and some other guys on tour, everyone shared their two cents with Pete. I truly feel that this too helped him along. At one point, he even came to me and said he was planning on doing this and using this ball to see what happens. Now any of you out there that know Pete personally know good and well that is not how he usually thinks. That should have been my sign right then and there that something special was in the making.
Come show day we all knew that anything could, and probably would happen. Having Weber, Shafer, and Belmo did make it easy to see the lane transition. After all, our guys weren’t trying to work against each other on the lanes; they each had a game plan, and each tried to make sure they didn’t mess up their fellow Storm brothers. Shafer felt his best look was jamming it around the 20 board; Weber liked the soft hand, slow curve around the same spot; and Belmo liked the heavy end over end heat up the second arrow. Del and I agreed that all three angles were playable for our guys so we attacked accordingly.
After Shafer caught the nose a few times and Weber started to see some early hook, it hit me in the middle of that first game that eventually Pete would need that pin down, hole down Frantic. It had a total of three games on it, so it was a fresh cover. I ran to the locker room to find it since we never thought it was a viable option. That’s what we get for thinking. Anyway, I tried to get him to toss it in the fill ball, but couldn’t get his attention. Instead I had him toss it on the practice lane next to the TV pair and explained that the Marvel Pearl would not last all day and that this ball was the next step. Now I kid you not, after the first game and second game, I bet he tossed 16 shots with the Frantic and only missed striking two times. But even as good as the Frantic looked, he still felt more confident in the Marvel Pearl. That kept him alive to the title match. Which was fine by me, if he felt he could win with it, I was all for it, but I kept reminding him that if the Marvel Pearl wasn’t quite right, he knew his next move. As practice wound down before the title match, the right lane changed and he felt confident in the Frantic on the right lane and the Marvel Pearl still on the left. After he felt he had tossed a good shot on the left lane with the Marvel Pearl and it didn’t read like he expected, he made the switch to the Frantic on that lane too. I guess you can say from that point on, the rest is history. Shot by shot, frame by frame, we all knew it would come down to who could finish the tenth. And well, the Hall of Famer did not disappoint anyone!