BATON ROUGE, La. - Ed Swietek of Sarasota, Fla., may have rolled a few games at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships he wasn't so proud of, but the good games he tossed the rest of the way were enough to lift him into the Classified All-Events lead Friday morning.
The 56-year-old left-hander had six games of 202 or better on the way to 602 in singles, 600 in doubles and 595 in team for a career-best 1,797 all-events total. Mark Knippers of Baker, La., previously held the lead in Classified All-Events with 1,789.
After starting singles with 232 and 212, Swietek knew he had a shot at the top spot, but he didn't know all-events was within reach, too. When he finished with 158, he knew he did his best, but would not be taking home a singles title. Joel Fee of Pella, Iowa, leads Classified Singles with 655.
"We usually just come out here to have fun, and I never really expected to get this close," said Swietek, who has bowled with the same group since joining as a substitute in 1999. "I did have three pretty bad games, where I guess I lost my confidence or focus. I'm just glad I was able to get it back. I was disappointed about singles, but finding out I took the lead in all-events was a nice surprise."
In recent years, Swietek has focused on how to find success on the Sport Bowling-certified lane conditions at the USBC Open Championships. As a left-hander, he knows there won't be much traffic on his side of the lane, if any, so crossing fewer boards often is his best option on the tournament lanes.
He tested his theory at AMF Bradenton Lanes in Bradenton, Fla., last week when given the opportunity to bowl on the tournament lane condition. Using an outside line, he was able to post a 600 series, which helped his confidence heading into the Baton Rouge River Center this week.
"I was the only lefty out there today, and I learned the past few years to just play outside and let the ball make its way to the pocket," Swietek said. "It's pretty tough to make the condition do what you want, so you have to take what the condition gives you. Last Sunday, our home house put out the shot, and I bowled well, so I felt good coming here."
For now, Swietek and his teammates will enjoy the rest of what Baton Rouge has to offer and try not to think about the tournament leaderboards too much. The event's 151-day run will end July 10, which means 25 more days of bowlers on the lanes.
"I am looking forward to going back to work and telling everyone about it, since they were watching me on the webcams yesterday," said Swietek, who works in finance at Crane Environmental. "But hopefully, I won't think about it much over the next 25 days because I don't want to be disappointed. I know there are much better bowlers out there than me."
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.