Longtime bowler achieves personal goal at OC

HansonRobert2012LARGEBATON ROUGE, La. - When Robert Hanson of Tacoma, Wash., made his United States Bowling Congress Open Championships debut at the 1984 event in Reno, Nev., he had two clear goals in mind - shooting 300 and winning an eagle.

Although it has taken him 19 tries during a nearly three-decade span, he's finally able to cross one of the items off his USBC Open Championships bucket list after rolling the ninth perfect game of the 2012 tournament at the Baton Rouge River Center.

The 53-year-old right-hander started his singles set Friday evening with games of 227 and 238 before firing 12 consecutive strikes for a 300 game and 765 series, which is good for fourth place in Regular Singles. Henry Teetz III of West Allis, Wis., leads with 800.

Hanson, who won a national championship with Washington State University in 1982, ranks his latest triumph just a notch below his collegiate success.

"This is the most unbelievable feeling in the world," said Hanson, who made his 19th Open Championships appearance. "This has been one of my goals since I started bowling this tournament. I was actually fairly nervous. That 11th one was tough. Except for my national championship win, nothing beats this."

Until Hanson reached perfection, his best Open Championships performance was in 2008, when he and Eric Mattingly finished fifth in Regular Doubles. That moment, along with his 300, are the reasons he loves competing at the Open Championships.

"I've been coming with just about the same guys for quite a while now," said Hanson, who is the proprietor at Tacoma's Tower Lanes. "There's just something about this tournament. It's such a prestigious event. My doubles partner and I came in fifth four years ago, so we were really close there. It's just a fantastic tournament. Every great bowler comes to bowl this tournament, and I look forward to it every year."

To have success on the difficult lane conditions at the Open Championships, bowlers must be prepared to adjust from shot to shot. Hanson made a major adjustment in singles, which ultimately helped him find success.

"There was about a 14-board difference from our doubles pair to our singles pair," said Hanson, who is a Greater Tacoma Bowling Association Hall of Famer. "That's what's so challenging about this tournament. You're always making adjustments. The lanes are always changing. You have to change with it, or otherwise, you will get lost real quick. The lanes opened up for me inside in singles. I love playing really deep, so I was able to get comfortable."

As if the moment couldn't be any better, Hanson's son, Ryan, shared the lanes with him on his special night.

"Having Ryan here was really special," Hanson said. "Two of my boys are really into bowling. Daniel is a really good player, and he's just 14. This is only Ryan's second year bowling at the tournament, but I love bowling with him. He started bowling on our team last year, and it was special for him to be here."

Hanson closed his 2012 campaign with 684 in doubles and 607 in team for a career-high all-events total of 2,056, which is 10th overall. Ryan Whitney of Lewisville, Texas, leads Regular All-Events with 2,170.

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.