If any bowler is going to Munich for the 2010 World Men’s Championships with something to prove, it’s Chris Barnes.
By the time Barnes packed his bags and headed home from the 2008 World Men's Championships in Thailand, the 12-time PBA titlist and former PBA Player of the Year did not just leave behind another tournament; he left behind the sour memory of a 29th-place finish in singles as well as a tie for 30th in all-events that excluded him from Masters contention.
But anyone who thinks there are 30 players in the world who are better bowlers than Chris Barnes hasn’t been paying attention. Ask Mike DeVaney, who watched him blow by his 769 with three consecutive 279 games in match play at the 2009 PBA Plastic Ball Championship. Or Jason Couch, who watched him toss an 828 series in the previous match. Ask anyone that has crossed paths with the man on tour in the past ten years.
“I think he is the greatest bowler I will ever see,” says Tommy Jones, Barnes’s Team USA teammate. “He is by far the best on tour. He can do everything he wants to with a bowling ball.”
He might be the best bowler on the PBA Tour, but when he arrives at Dream-Bowl Palace in Munich for his first practice session this week, he will be the guy who watched the Masters event from the stands last time around. And that, above all, is the taste that Barnes aims to rinse from his mouth this year.
“I have changed my approach to these shorter sprint events as opposed to my usual tour mentality,” Barnes explains. “I have added a few tools that should help me get off to faster starts in this six-game format.”
The PBA is a world where any ball you need is just a paddock away and virtually all competition is singles. It is a world of long-format events in which Barnes is just getting fired up as other players’ thumbs are turning to burger meat. But the world that awaits Barnes in Munich is one where no more than six bowling balls are allowed in your arsenal, competitors may or may not extend two lanes of courtesy, and you have to wait for a whistle to blow before moving on to your next pair.
“The preparation does change some,” Barnes says of the difference between PBA and international competition. “Mostly it is due to the shorter format and the limit on the number of balls for international tournaments. We have a six-ball limit and the only information we have is that we are bowling on one long pattern and one short pattern. So it is a challenge to build an arsenal that can cover a wide range of patterns and transitions.”
But if you think Barnes plans to lean on many excuses when he shoes up at Dream-Bowl Palace this week, you don’t know Chris Barnes.
“I don’t feel any more outside pressure at international competitions than I do at home,” Barnes explains. “I have high expectations for my own performance and that doesn’t change based on the venue.”
But the transition from the every-man-for-himself slugfest that is the PBA Tour to the team atmosphere he’ll experience in Munich is one change that Barnes is counting on.
“The opportunity to bowl with the greatest bowlers on our tour as opposed to against them is the biggest difference and the best part,” Barnes says.