With only one title to be decided this weekend at the Dick Weber Playoffs, I thought now would be a great time for my thoughts on the season.
Winning a title was very tough for our team this year, but Chris Loschetter got it done in Kuwait. He beat a very strong field of PBA and world-class players from all over. We actually had a great week over there as a team…Chris with the win, Sean in sixth, and Ronnie Russell in 17th. They were the only three guys that went from our team.
Next week should be interesting in many ways. We do not have a player on the last show since Tom Smallwood lost by a pin and Brad lost by a couple, but it will still be very entertaining. Randy Weiss, going for his first title, will bowl against Ritchie (Dick) Allen. The favorite is Chris Barnes.
Let’s take some time and talk about the season for our staff players…
Sean Rash continues to get better every year. This year he was very consistent and focused throughout the season. Sean did not win this year but proved he is one of the best bowlers on the tour, week in and week out. Sean finished the year in the top five in points, with four shows and one second place finish. He also finished third in the World Championships. Overall he did a great job this year and he is a great team member.
Tom Smallwood had a great year, by far his best ever. Tom made several shows this season and finished in the top 10 in points. The highlight for him this season was a second place finish in the Tournament of Champions. Tom’s run at the TOC on Friday was nothing short of spectacular, coming from several hundred off the show to the lead, winning 15 matches in a row. He bowled a very good game on the show, but it was Mika’s day. Tom collected a very nice check for his efforts ($100,000). I look for Tom to keep getting better as he becomes more comfortable with the tour life and our great product line.
Ronnie Russell also had his best year on tour. He is becoming a very consistent player and still has a bunch of potential to get even better. His best finish was at the World Championships. He had a top 10 finish there and really had a chance to make the show. He did make the USA vs World show, but it was a very tough day for him. Ronnie has a few things to work on during the off-season. One area for improvement is his swing. He is a little too forward, causing his swing to be too steep and into the lane a little. He is coming along with his consistency. I really would like to see all of our guys get in a spot where they are making all of the cuts every week. By doing that, the shows and wins will come.
I really feel Parker is getting very close to another win. This was his best year in quite awhile. He had a solid start, finishing 29th at the World Championships…the high lefty. He also had a very good TOC, again high lefty, finishing 12th. After the TOC he got into a little funk with his game and was not bowling well. When he was executing, he would have a tough time getting the right shape to strike. We worked on several things and got him going a little. In Dublin, CA, Parker had a great chance at the show…in third place with four games to go. Then things went bad from there… could have been nerves from not being in that position in a long time, but the swing just got outside the line and the pull-down started to happen. He had a top 10 and things seemed to be getting better, then he missed the cut at the US Open. After that he bowled the NJ Masters and the further he advanced in the tourney, the better he got. He ended up winning that event and got on a roll. The very next week, at the plastic ball tourney, he made his first show in nearly two years, finishing second to Jason Couch. He also had a very solid week at the Dick Weber Playoffs. Parker finished the year in the top 20 (points) and was the second-high lefty. Parker should have a great 2012.
Chris and Brad both had pretty tough years in general, but they kept their 2012 PBA exemptions. Both of them need some confidence and they will be fine.
Looking forward to next season, it doesn’t look like the tour will be growing at all. I am still very concerned about what is going to happen. We really need to get some money coming into the tour. At this point, it looks as if the 2012 schedule will be similar to last season, with a World Series and the other Majors. Other than that, we have not heard anything.
As for me, it was a long season and I was ready for time off. Not sure how old most of you are, but I am 51 years old and have started a bucket list, just like the movie. I got to take one of the top items off of that list, spending the weekend in Augusta at the Masters. It was truly what I always dreamed it would be. Not only was it beautiful in every way, but the feeling of the power of this great event is just crazy. I will never forget this weekend. Someday, I hope bowling can create an event with the stature of the Masters and that people all over the world would hope to attend.
Thanks for keeping up with us this season. Good luck and good Bowling…with a capital B!