By Matt Cannizzaro and Wishelle Banks
RENO, Nev. - Greg Roberts of Oshkosh, Wis., only threw 11 strikes during a disappointing doubles set at the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships but later found his way into the Regular Singles lead after matching that total in just one game.
The 43-year-old right-hander struck 11 times on the way to a 279 singles start and added games of 258 and 234 for a 771 series at the National Bowling Stadium on Tuesday. Scott Salinas of Racine, Wis., previously held the lead with 731.
After two games, Roberts knew he had a legitimate shot at the top spot, but when he started the finale with five consecutive strikes, he couldn't help but also consider the possibility of the first 800 series of the year.
"When I saw that I had 530, I looked at it and knew if I shot 200, I'd be in the lead, and that would be the coolest thing ever," said Roberts, who made his 14th USBC Open Championships appearance. "When I started with the first five, I started thinking more. I was thinking big picture. I wanted to get what I could get and get out of here, absolutely."
Even after his chance at perfection and 800 ended, Roberts was able to stay focused with help from his teammates. Their whole strategy on the tournament lanes was based on team play and communication, but that also was a contributing factor in his slow start in doubles.
The group's main goal was for everyone to play in the same area to help break down the oil pattern. It is a basic concept that has been proven successful in the team event and now is more relevant in doubles and singles because the six bowlers, compared to four in the past, bowl all six games on the same pair of lanes. Unfortunately, the game plan left Roberts out of his comfort zone.
"I was not comfortable being on the outside like that," said Roberts, who had 467 in doubles and 552 in team for a 1,790 all-events total. "My arm swing was off. I was flailing the ball to the right. I was just fishing. I was trying different balls and different angles and trying to get back to where my comfort zone was. Even after shooting 460 in doubles, I knew what we were doing was right. In the 10th frame of the last game, I went to a stronger ball, moved in a little bit and tried to open the lane up, and it worked."
In the Classified Division on Tuesday, the top three places in the team event changed hands, with the three teams all having a chance at the top spot heading into the final frame.
The Inexplicables of Conetoe, N.C., eventually settled into the lead after games of 931, 882 and 849 for a 2,662 total and was followed by Bluedog Blazers of Webster, S.D. (2,605) and Katy Boys of Parsons, Kan. (2,579). Wally's Pau Hana Club of Honolulu previously held the lead with 2,575.
Willie Andrews led the way for The Inexplicables with a 610 series and was joined by Larry Ellis (593), Audrey Andrews (563), George Andrews (518) and Elizabeth Romero (378).
"Wow, this is great," said George Andrews, a first-time Open Championships participant. "I didn't bowl as well as I wanted to, but the other team members picked up the slack. We came out here one person short but found a young lady to bowl with us (Romero), and we're thankful to her for helping us out."
Presenting sponsors for the 2013 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.