ARLINGTON, Texas - Kevin Reuer held a slim 15-pin lead over a hard-charging Brent Watson heading into the final game of the six-game qualifying tournament for the PBA Experience Showdown on Tuesday. But Reuer wasn't keeping an eye on just Watson.
"Not only was I watching who was in second, but who was in third and fourth," said Reuer of Hoffman Estates, Ill., who qualified out of Beverly Lanes on the Viper pattern. "If they got a good four- or five-bagger going and I wasn't doing anything ..."
Reuer, however, rolled a 213 in his final game for a 39-pin victory in the qualifying tournament held at the International Training and Research Center at the International Bowling Campus. With the victory, Reuer earns a spot in the PBA Experience Showdown where he will face some of the top bowlers on the PBA Tour.
"This is the high point of my bowling career," Reuer said. "This is unbelievable."
The PBA Experience Showdown, which will be held Wednesday, April 7 at the ITRC, features five Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour stars who won events during the 2009-10 PBA Tour Versatility Swing presented by BOWL.com, plus Reuer, a United State Bowling Congress Sport Bowler.
Watson, of Parkersburg, W.Va., closed with a 189 game for a 1,189 total. He was followed by
Joseph Petrowski of East Syracuse, N.Y., 1,178; Bill Matovina of Clearwater, Fla., 1,165; Patti Riddle of Palantine, Ill., 1,143; and Bobby Wenger of Wooster, Ohio, 1,101
Reuer now will face PBA Tour competitors Norm Duke, Rhino Page, Bill O'Neill, Mike DeVaney and Jack Jurek in the first event to be nationally televised from the new ITRC. The tournament will be taped for airing April 11 at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
Reuer, who credits practice and "a couple of my friends who helped me with my arm swing," took the lead in the six-game, total-pins qualifier, in the third game. He opened with eight consecutive strikes and finished with a 262. His 642 set led Riddle by 12 pins at that point.
"During our practice, I jumped on the Scorpion to see if I could find a shot and found a good line," Reuer said. "I just remembered it when we went back to the pair."
Reuer would never relinquish the lead. And now he gets to face some of the top performers in the sport of bowling.
"Nervous ... very, very nervous," Reuer said when asked about facing the pros. "But I am also very excited."
The PBA Experience Showdown started in August 2009 for bowlers who were competing in USBC Sport Bowling leagues. Those leagues use many of the same lane conditions that are used on the PBA Tour. For almost six months, the top bowler (highest scratch series) each week in those leagues was eligible to be entered in the PBA Experience Showdown and more than 1,300 entries were sent to USBC from Sport Bowling leagues.
From those entries, 18 competitors were randomly selected as finalists and were divided into six groups based on the lane condition on which they bowled to qualify. Three finalists were randomly selected from each category and bowling fans went online to vote for their favorite bowler from each of the six lane patterns. Fans cast more than 140,000 votes to determine the six bowlers that competed in the qualifying tournament.
Invited to join each finalist on the trip to Arlington is the league secretary and the center's owner. Each finalist qualified for the PBA Experience Showdown at a center that is a member of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.
Also at the ITRC this week will be the PBA Women's Series Showdown. Kelly Kulick, who became the first woman to win a regular PBA Tour event by capturing the 2010 Tournament of Champions, leads the field that includes Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Stefanie Nation, Shannon Pluhowsky, Liz Johnson and Michelle Feldman.
The PBA Women's Series Showdown will be taped at 5:30 p.m. on April 8 for airing April 18 at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
PBA Experience Showdown
Qualifying results (six games)
Kevin Reuer, Hoffman Estates, Ill., 1,228
Brent Watson, Parkersburg, W.Va., 1,189
Joseph Petrowski, East Syracuse, N.Y., 1,178
Bill Matovina, Clearwater, Fla., 1,165
Patti Riddle, Palatine, Ill., 1,143
Bobby Wenger, Wooster, Ohio, 1,101