DECATUR — PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber hurried out of Spare Time Lanes after his eight games of the first round of qualifying on Sunday. That post-match cigarette was calling his name.
It was that kind of day for Weber and much of the field competing in the PBA50 Senior and Super Senior Doubles Classic. Though Weber, in his first year competing in PBA50 events, bounced back from a slow start to finish seventh among players in
59-and-under group and eighth overall, he averaged just 211.25 — well below the 232.72 he’s averaged in PBA50 events this year.
“Scores are very low compared to the last couple weeks,” Weber said. “I have no idea why. Actually, I have an idea, but I’m not allowed to say what that idea is.”
Through the first three games, Weber was averaging well below 200.
“I think I threw every bowling ball I had with me today,” Weber said. “I figured eventually one of them would work. It just took five or six games to get the right ball in my hand.
“The one that finally worked for me was my Roto Grip Deranged. It basically laid out the same as what I was using before,
but it’s a little weaker ball and that gives me a little more hook. I finally got the reaction I was looking for — that good left turn.”
Weber is known, in addition to be one of the greatest bowlers of all time, for his brash personality. But during Sunday’s qualifying, the most animated Weber got was a few fist pumps after strikes. Weber saves the blow-ups for big events — his outburst following his win in the 2012 U.S. Open is legendary on YouTube.
Though Weber won the USBC Senior Masters in June, this is just his fifth PBA50 event. But he still ranks third in PBA50 Player of the Year points, and if he can hold off fourth-place Lennie Boresch Jr. — whom he leads by a point with one event to go after Decatur — he’ll earn a spot on the ESPN-televised PBA50 Tour finals, a new event conducted during the PBA World Series of Bowling V in early November.
“It’s a lot of work for no money, but it’s all right,” Weber said of the PBA50 Tour. “I’m still more into the regular tour. But I’m in third and my bosses at Storm (a bowling company that sponsors Weber) asked me to bowl the last three events, so I’m bowling the last three events.
“But I know all these guys and get along with them, so it’s a pretty fun time.”
Weber made $108,106 in 17 events on the PBA Tour last season, with $50,100 coming from his win at the PBA Tournament of Champions in March. So far, he’s won $21,950 in four senior events, with $16,000 coming from his Senior Masters win.
“There is money to be made out here (on the PBA50) Tour when you win,” Weber said. “When I come into a tournament, I’m not looking at second-place money. I look at first-place money and that’s all I look at. And if I ever go into a tournament thinking I can’t get first-place money, I won’t bowl any more.”
The Decatur tournament leader after the first day of qualifying is somewhat of a surprise — Mitch Jabczenski, who turns 61 today. Jabczenski, who has never finished higher than ninth in a PBA50 event, had a 227 average (1,816 pins) to lead not only his fellow 60-and-older “super senior” players, but the younger 50-59 field as well. PBA Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli leads the 50-59 group with 1,796. Jabczenski’s lead over the second-place super senior is 131 pins.
“Don’t ask me how I did it,” Jabczenski said. “When I walked in and saw how tough the scoring was, I wasn’t very comfortable.”
What made Jabczenski’s day even more unlikely was that he didn’t arrive in Decatur until this morning.
“I went to my niece’s wedding (Saturday) and it was a seven-hour drive to get here,” Jabczenski said. “I was exhausted, but I laid down for an hour. Maybe it helped.”
Decatur native Tom Adcock didn’t have any trouble getting off to a good start, finishing third in the senior bracket after day one.
After today’s second round of qualifying, the top 14 bowlers from the 59-and-under group will be paired with the top 14 super seniors for doubles match play on Tuesday.