Past Junior Team USA member rolls perfect game at 2019 USBC Open Championships

LAS VEGAS - Former Junior Team USA member David Hooper Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina, made his debut at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships one to remember by rolling the 11th perfect game of the 2019 event.

After a slow start in doubles Thursday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, the 20-year-old right-hander tossed 12 consecutive strikes in his second game. The 300 came between games of 147 and 204 for a 651 series.

"I played the wrong part of the lane to start doubles, but I made a move toward the outside after the first game, and it worked," Hooper said. "I hoped to do well, and I felt like I was prepared, but I never could've expected this."

Hooper works part-time for Upstate Pro Shop, and it was his boss, Robert Hydrick Jr., who invited him to compete in the 2019 USBC Open Championships.

Though his teammates offered some advice about what to expect on the biggest stage in bowling, he has collected enough experience and success to understand the magnitude of the tournament and the significance of his accomplishment.

Hooper was a member of Junior Team USA in 2018, a spot he earned through his performance at the 2017 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International.

After 26 games of bowling on a variety of challenging lane conditions at centers across the Cleveland area, he qualified eighth for the event's 16-player double-elimination match-play bracket and secured his spot on Junior Team USA by advancing to the televised final.

Though he fell short in the championship match, falling to Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California, the opportunity taught Hooper a lot about bowling under pressure and in the spotlight.

"I probably was more nervous during the Junior Gold final in 2017, but I definitely think I've changed a lot as a bowler since then and used my experiences to continue to improve and get more comfortable," Hooper said. "Also, competing on tougher conditions at events like Junior Gold helps you with making better shots and spare shooting. I've learned how important spares are."

Now on break from his studies at Emmanuel College in Georgia, where he's working toward a degree in business management (in case the Professional Bowlers Association Tour doesn't work out), Hooper is taking full advantage of the Open Championships and it's complementary events.

Prior to making his inaugural march to the lanes at the Bowling Plaza, Hooper bowled a set at the Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC, being held at the nearby South Point Bowling Center.

The Bowlers Journal Championships features the same oil pattern being used for doubles and singles at the Open Championships, and while he initially went with a different strategy Thursday morning, the event did give him some ideas about where he could play.

His move after his first game of doubles Thursday at the Open Championships also led to success in singles, where he rolled games of 227, 242 and 213 for a 682 series. Added to his 585 start in team Wednesday, Hooper finished his debut with a 1,918 all-events total.

Conversely, Hooper now has three additional Bowlers Journal squads on his schedule before he returns home, and the information he gathered at the Open Championships could help him continue his success next door.

On Hooper's next squad at the Bowlers Journal Championships, another familiar face made its way into the spotlight with the event's fourth 800 series.

ButturffJakob2019BJOCForWeb250x140USBC Masters champion Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, kicked off a busy summer with games of 269, 279 and 279 for an 827 series, which moved him into second place in Open Singles. AJ Rice of Columbus, Georgia, leads this year at the South Point Bowling Center with 835.

Butturff's stay in Las Vegas will include competing alongside Chris Barnes, Kyle Troup and Anthony Simonsen in the Weber Cup XX at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from June 16-21, before he makes his way back to South Point for the 2019 Open Championships.

The 25-year-old left-hander will compete at the Bowling Plaza June 26-27.

His travels then will take him to multiple PBA Tour events and the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, from July 26-Aug. 11, where he will represent Team USA with Nick Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

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