DECATUR — Walter Ray Williams Jr. took another step toward his first PBA Senior Player of the Year title by making it to today’s match-play round of the PBA Senior Decatur Open at Spare Time Lanes.
Williams’ two-day total of 3,550 over 16 games (221.9) put him in eighth place overall. The top 32 advanced to match play, but the top eight receive byes in the first two rounds.
“There’s a slight advantage to getting out on the lanes first and seeing how things are breaking,” Williams said. “But I don’t care what anyone says — it makes it a lot easier to win a tournament when you only have to win four matches compared to five of six.”
Williams, a PBA Hall of Famer, is a seven-time PBA Player of the Year — the most of any player in tour history. He was the PBA Player of the Year the year he turned 50 and joined the Senior Tour but has never won the Senior Player of the Year — finishing second in 2010 and 2011.
Williams leads the Player of the Year points standings by 10 over Hugh Miller, who failed to make the match-play round, and by 14 over Mark Edwards. Edwards finished sixth in qualifying to advance to match play but would have to win the tournament to pass Williams.
“Being the best player out here is something I’m always trying to do,” Williams said. “It’s another accolade I’d love to have.”
Williams has won 47 PBA Tour titles — the most in history — but his record for most consecutive years winning a tour title come to an end at 17 in 2011. He failed to win a tour title this year, notching a best of 17th. But he’s bounced back in the Senior Tour season, winning twice heading into Decatur — the final event of the season.
“I bowled awful the last couple years on the regular tour and that bothers me,” Williams said. “The guys out here are playing a different game than the guys on the regular tour. The way these guys (on the Senior Tour) change the lane with the way they throw the ball, I can kind of compete with. The way the lanes are broken down with the regular guys on tour is a lot more challenging for me, and I’m just not executing the way I used to. I just can’t hook the ball the way those younger guys can.”
Senior Tour changes name
PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced today from Spare Time Lanes that the PBA Senior Tour will be renamed the PBA50 Tour beginning next season.
“The word ‘senior’ is outdated and the title PBA50 more accurately reflects the vibrancy of the players and our competition in this age group,” Clark said.
Williams said he hadn’t heard about the name change but didn’t think it was necessary.
“People in marketing have to do stuff like that otherwise they don’t get paid,” Williams said.
Senior Tour veteran Kenny Parks said the change was done to help improve sponsorship, though he wasn’t sure the choice of “PBA50” was the right one.
“They’re trying to do something fresh, and they’re hoping a corporation latches on to a different title,” Parks said. “(Clark) asked me about it at the U.S. Open and I told him I thought it was OK. But I think it should be like ‘Champions,’ or ‘Legends.’ Those sound better. I think they could have been a little more inventive with the title.”
Decatur’s Adcock advances
Tom Adcock was the only local player to advance to today’s match-play round, finishing 17th with a two-day total of 3,451 over 16 games (215.7 average).
Other area bowlers competing were Decatur’s Bennie Holman (61st, 3,138), Lake City’s Al Pote (73rd, 3,101), Vandalia’s Larry Earnest 79th, 3,059) and Gene Vincent (90th, 2,991).
PBA Hall-of-Famer Dave Soutar bowled the final frame of his career on Monday and made it a memorable one, striking out in the 10th frame.
On Saturday, Decatur bowlers Gene and Janet Vincent, Cory and Sheila Kistner, and Mel Lingafelter held a party for Soutar and presented him with an Alaskan cruise as a retirement gift.