BATON ROUGE, La. - Michael Daniels of Slidell, La., has been a competitive bowler for many years and even tried his luck at Professional Bowlers Association regional events, but he didn't find his way to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships until now.
The 47-year-old right-hander enjoyed a memorable debut on bowling's biggest stage and easily surpassed the goals he set for himself as he cruised into the Regular Singles lead at the Baton Rouge River Center on Thursday.
Daniels achieved the 30 clean frames he was hoping for on the way to games of 210, 267 and 257 for a 734 series. Ed Seliga of Kenosha, Wis., previously held the lead with 719.
"Everyone told me to expect a tough shot, so my goal was to come out with three 600 series, and I would be happy with that," said Daniels, who bowls league at Slidell's Bowling USA. "I also wanted to get a 30 clean, and I failed in my first two attempts, so it was on my mind in singles. I also wanted to get enough for 1,800."
The last time the USBC Open Championships was in held Baton Rouge, about 90 miles from Slidell (2005), Daniels missed the opportunity to compete. He also has not been able to make it to other host cities, but now that he's had the one-of-a-kind championship experience, he plans to make it an annual destination.
"I found out about it a little too late in 2005, and I just wasn't able to go other years," Daniels said. "Now that I finally did it, I really enjoyed it. Even if I would've bowled badly, I would've had a great time. I've never bowled in a setting like this, and I'll definitely be back."
Daniels added a 614 series in doubles and 604 in team for a 1,953 all-events total, which is second overall. Seliga leads Regular All-Events with 1,969.
"I found a line that worked in last game of team (223), and that's where I started today for doubles," Daniels said. "I love the competition and the tougher shot, so I'm looking forward to next year. I'll definitely aim a little higher, too. Instead of 1,800, I am going to aim for 1,900 again."
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.