Success continues for former Team USA member at 2019 Bowlers Journal Championships

LAS VEGAS - After a stellar youth and collegiate career that included a win at the United States Bowling Congress Intercollegiate Singles Championships, two appearances on Junior Team USA and a year on Team USA, Tim Pfeifer of Oakdale, Pennsylvania, has yet to see the same type of success at the USBC Open Championships.

The 32-year-old right-hander has scored well on the biggest stage in bowling, averaging nearly 215 in 10 tournament appearances, but outside of a few off-color team names and a couple of noteworthy individual performances over the years, Pfeifer and his teammates didn't spend too much time in the Open Championships spotlight.

That all changed in 2017, when an invitation to join a high-profile team led to a career year and forever altered Pfeifer's perception of the world's largest participatory sporting event.

Briefly leading doubles and then finishing third in Team All-Events in 2017 gave Pfeifer his first legitimate grasp at a coveted Open Championships Eagle, and just missing only motivated him more. They returned in 2018 with a 10th-place finish in Regular Team.

An opportunity to now join one of the most successful teams in the last five years of Open Championships competition has Pfeifer eager to learn, contribute and continue improving his place in the standings.

He'll make his debut this week with Team NABR of Fairport, New York, which has claimed three Eagles in recent years, including Regular Team titles in 2015 and 2017 and a Team All-Events win in 2017.

"When (USBC Hall of Famer) Doug (Kent) asked me to bowl, what followed was a quick realization about what this tournament really is about," Pfeifer said. "Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the other years and got to bowl with some great guys, but joining the Rose Bowl group put things in a different perspective. Now, being a part of a team that has a track record like Team NABR has had over the last five years is a special opportunity, and I'd love to take advantage of it."

Three members of Team NABR - Adam Barta, Mike Rose Jr. and Brian Waliczek - have been the core members of the group. Rule changes after the 2018 tournament forced them to replace the newest member, Anthony Pepe, with past Eagle winner Vernon Peterson. When longtime team member and former Team USA member Scott Pohl suffered an injury, Pfeifer was invited to fill the spot for the 2019 event in Las Vegas.

Pfeifer's first few days with Team NABR have been memorable and yielded him a pair of honor scores at the nearby Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, the premier side event held annually in conjunction with the Open Championships.

While focused on getting comfortable with his new teammates and how they see the lanes, Pfeifer rolled the fifth perfect game this year at the South Point Bowling Center on the way to a 761 series and a spot among the top 10 in Open Singles and Open Doubles with four-time Open Championships titlist Mike Rose Jr. of Fairport, New York.

The group returned to the Bowlers Journal Championships on Thursday, and Pfeifer continued his striking ways with games of 244, 287 and 269 for an 800 series, the third posted this year in the tournament's 73rd edition. At the time, he only was entered in doubles with Waliczek (1,411) and Barta (1,370). Pfeifer and Waliczek are sixth in Open Doubles, while he and Barta just missed the top 10.

The Bowlers Journal Championships features the same oil pattern the competitors will face during doubles and singles at the Open Championships.

"For Vernon and I, these few days have been great for understanding how the other guys see things and how we can communicate those things to each other along the way," Pfeifer said. "We've looked over everyone's equipment and talked a little bit about a game plan and backup plan, if things happen to go south on us. It's all a benefit of coming out early and spending that time together, which is making more and more sense."

Pfeifer, a bowling center manager, said past success at the South Point Bowling Center gives him extra confidence when he competes there, and bowling well at the new South Point Bowling Plaza in 2017, including a seventh-place finish in Regular Doubles and 18th-place finishes in Regular Team and Regular All-Events, has been good for his confidence heading into Friday night's team event.

"The three minutes we led doubles (before being edged by teammates Doug and Jacob Kent) was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had, and, overall, that whole day was one of the most fun days I've ever had bowling," said Pfeifer, who won the 2007 USBC ISC title while competing for Pennsylvania's Robert Morris University. "When you bowl with guys you like and you're friends with, and you come that close to reaching something that significant, it's pretty memorable. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year."

Peterson also had a memorable 2017 event, finishing 15th in Regular Team with his Lodge Lanes Too teammates, and he's now looking to add a second Eagle to his mantle. The first came in 2013 when Lodge Lanes Too won the Regular Team title with a then-record 3,538 total that topped the previous record of 3,537, which stood for 20 years.

One thing Pfeifer pointed out as a consistent key to success, whether it was in collegiate bowling, during his Team USA experience or at the Open Championships, is committing to a strategy and sticking with it.

"It's so important for everyone to stick to the plan no matter what, even if it starts to look bad," said Pfeifer, whose Robert Morris team finished second at the 2007 Intercollegiate Team Championships. "If you bail too soon, you'll screw it up every time. When you have a group like that, though, there's a lot of trust, and the feeling of having to push isn't ever there. When you try too hard to shoot big scores, you generally don't. When you're comfortable and communicating, things seem to fall into place."

Pfeifer and Team NABR will hit the lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza for their team event Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern. They'll return for doubles and singles Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

Melrose Bowl Red of Norwood, Minnesota, leads Regular Team this year with 3,301, and Mento Produce of Syracuse, New York, leads Team All-Events with 9,983. Team NABR won both titles in 2017 with scores of 3,266 and 9,957, respectively.

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