By Kevin Albarez
BATON ROUGE, La. - Jimmy Zimmerman of Syracuse, N.Y., made the 1,433-mile trip to the Baton Rouge River Center with a goal of winning at least one event at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
The 28-year-old two-hander and Roger Blanchard, also from Syracuse, put themselves in position to make that happen when they took the Regular Doubles lead with a 1,464 total Tuesday night. Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Wash., and Adam Barta of Girard, Ohio, previously held the lead with 1,429.
Zimmerman quickly found his stride and rolled 29 strikes on the way to games of 259, 265 and 257 for a 781 series, while Blanchard added games of 235, 210 and 238 for a 683 set. With the 151-day run of the 2012 event just halfway over, they still have a stressful, but exciting, wait ahead of them.
"We came in wanting to win at least one event," said Zimmerman, who made his fifth consecutive USBC Open Championships appearance. "The tournament isn't over, but it means a lot to take the lead. Some of the best bowlers in the country bowl in this tournament. In doubles, we found a good shot, and we were able to get the momentum going. We got some good breaks and were able to feed off each other."
The duo came to the event not knowing what to expect from the tournament lanes but knew the Sport-certified lane condition would be challenging. They relied on the support of their teammates and friends, who shared the moment with them.
"We were not able to practice on the shot at home," said Zimmerman, who bowls league at Thunderbird Lanes in Syracuse. "We had a big support group come down, and our wives and girlfriends are here. I am excited they were around to see it."
Zimmerman added 606 in singles and 571 in team for a career-high 1,958 all-events total, and Blanchard's fifth consecutive tournament appearance ended with 559 in singles and 527 in team for 1,769. Ryan Whitney of Lewisville, Texas, leads Regular All-Events with 2,170.
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.