Early bird rolls perfect game at USBC Open

PilonAl2012LARGEBATON ROUGE, La. - Al Pilon of East Grand Forks, Minn., initially wasn't thrilled about bowling on the earliest doubles and singles squad of the day at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, but the opportunity worked out in his favor as he rolled the second 300 game of the 2012 tournament.

The self-proclaimed early-riser was excited to get back on the lanes and was the first bowler in the Baton Rouge River Center on Friday morning. He didn't waste any time finding his groove and started the day with 12 consecutive strikes to earn his spot in the record books.

Pilon added games of 182 and 207 for a 689 doubles series and teamed with Mark Ellington for a 1,251 total. Ryan Whitney of Lewisville, Texas, and Chris Hans of Rocky Mount, N.C., lead Regular Doubles with 1,420. Whitney tossed the event's other perfect game on the way into the lead in Regular Singles (773) and Regular All-Events (2,170).

"I was a little nervous, but I felt good and thought I had a good line to the pocket," said Pilon, who made his 26th USBC Open Championships appearance. "Seeing those pins go down was a great feeling. The 10 was the last to go, so I was a little scared. To shoot 300 here is such an honor."

The 56-year-old right-hander travels to the Open Championships each year with winning a title as his main goal, but he understands just how difficult a feat that is. Rolling a perfect game on the sport's biggest stage is fair consolation prize.

"This is a dream come true," said Pilon, who hones his skills at Liberty Lanes but has been battling some injuries this year. "I've often wondered if I could get lucky enough to bowl a 300 or 800 in this tournament. I'm sure a lot of people do. It's been a tough year with my injuries, so to come back and do this is amazing. My back definitely doesn't hurt right now, though."

Pilon finished his 2012 tournament campaign with 600 in singles and 530 in team for a 1,819 all-events total.

Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.