The list of Dave Soutar’s bowling achievements is nearly as long as his professional career. And he set the bar rather high for that lengthy career in his first year as a pro.

Soutar became the youngest winner of the PBA National Championship as a 21-year-old out of Detroit during his 1961 rookie season.

Since, Soutar has been inducted into both the PBA Hall of Fame (1979) and United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame (1985) and is the only player to win both the USBC Masters (1973) and Senior Masters (2000).

The 72-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., is also one of five players to win a PBA title in five different decades. His 51-year career will come to an end, however, at the conclusion of the PBA Senior Decatur Open at Spare Time Lanes. The tournament starts Sunday with qualifying at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and runs through Tuesday.

“It’s time for me to retire,” Soutar said. “I’ve been hurt the last three years — I’m getting old. You can only last so long.

“The young guys on the regular tour shoved me in (the Senior Tour), and now those same guys are shoving me out,” he added with a laugh. “I never thought I’d call a 50-year-old a kid, but they’re a kid out here.”

The Decatur Open will be Soutar’s 259th PBA Senior Tour event. His career tournament total tops 1,100 and includes 661 PBA Tour stops and his record number of senior events.

The Decatur Open might also be the last time Soutar steps foot on the lanes.

“I will most likely hang it up, period,” Soutar said. “I’m going to quit bowling, and that will be it — just like my friend (and fellow Hall of Famer) Dave Davis. He hasn’t bowled in three years. It’s about that time, I guess.”

Soutar added several career highlights after winning the 1961 National Championship in just his fifth professional tournament. He won 17 more PBA titles and has seven more wins on the Senior Tour, including the inaugural U.S. Senior Open. His 25 total titles include five majors in the two tours combined, and he was named the 20th greatest bowler of all time as part of PBA’s 50th anniversary in 2009.

That Soutar bowled 51 years professionally after starting out as a 13-year-old in Detroit’s junior league is something he never thought would happen.

“No, never,” he said. “I didn’t even think I’d bowl the regular tour until I was 50. Once I got out there (on the Senior Tour) with some other guys that turned 50, we prompted the PBA to make it bigger and better. That prolonged my career. When you’re bowling your own age group, you can last longer.”

And now that his extended career is coming to a close, Soutar doesn’t really have a plan for retirement. He lives on a golf course in Bradenton with his wife, Judy, and will continue to be a regular on the course.

Other than that, the Soutars have made the most of their farewell tour, saying goodbye to friends they’ve met in the last five decades.

“It will probably be a little emotional at the end when we’re getting ready to leave,” Soutar said. “I’m going to miss all the guys out here.”

Open will decide POY race

Player of the Year honors will still be up for grabs after Walter Ray Williams Jr. — the Senior Tour overall and Player of the Year points leader — was eliminated in the second round of match play at the South Shore Open at Olympia Lanes in Hammond, Ind., earlier this week.

Challenging the Hall of Famer Williams will be Hugh Miller and Mike Edwards. Miller won the South Shore Open to vault into second place and 12 points behind Williams in the Player of the Year points race. Edwards, a Senior Tour rookie this year, is 14 points behind Williams in third.

The winner of the Decatur Open will receive 16 Player of the Year Points, with eight going to second place and four for third. Miller and Edwards would have to win to jump ahead of Williams, who was the Senior Tour’s 2010 Rookie of the Year and was named the player of the year a record seven times on the PBA Tour.

Also playing in this year’s Decatur Open are defending champion Dale Eagle, PBA Hall of Famers Johnny Petraglia (the only player to win PBA titles in six decades), Wayne Webb, Mark Williams and Roy Buckley and 2011 Senior Player of the Year Ron Mohr. Local entrants include Tom Adcock and Gene Vincent.

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