ARLINGTON, Texas - Over the past three years, Dale Traber of Cedarburg, Wis., has grown fond of the format and the challenging lane conditions at the United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters.
Traber has won two of the past three Senior Masters titles, claiming the event in 2009 and 2011, and will be among a field of nearly 300 of the top bowlers age 50 and over at this year's event, which begins June 11 at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas.
The unique double-elimination match-play bracket portion of the Senior Masters is where Traber has thrived over the past three years. In 22 three-game matches in that stretch, Traber has gone 19-3 with an average margin of victory of nearly 40 pins.
"I feel confident, but the scores on the PBA Senior Tour have been really, really high this year, and lower scoring is better suited for me," said Traber, who has averaged 217.77 the past three years in match play at the event. "The Senior Masters usually has a lower scoring pace and that's better for me because I'm not going to shoot big, but I'm usually consistent. Knowing that I've got in and won this tournament twice before definitely doesn't hurt."
As the defending champion, Traber will have the advantage of being guaranteed a spot in bracket play, but he will bowl qualifying to try and earn the highest seed possible.
"Bowling the qualifying games is going to help at least see what's going on with the pattern," said Traber, who finished 13th at the 2010 Senior Masters as the defending champion. "It doesn't mean I'm going to bowl well, but if things are not favorable in qualifying you can take some chances knowing that you will advance to match play no matter what."
All players will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 63 bowlers who will join Traber in match play. The player who survives the bracket and wins the event will take home $16,000 of the estimated $125,000 prize fund.
If Traber is able to make it through the match-play bracket with another Senior Masters title, he would become the first player in the event's 19-year history to win three career titles. In addition to Traber, four others have also won two Senior Masters titles - Tom Baker, Gary Dickinson, Pete Couture and Dave Davis.
Bowling fans can watch every round of the Senior Masters live on BOWL.com's BowlTV.