USBC Open Championships Bowling
It's been almost a week since my return from the 2017 edition of the USBC Open Championships. It was another close run at the illustrious "bird" that I'd love to earn. But another year comes and goes, and with it goes another chance at a national title. Oh so close again, yet so far away is some aspects as well.
It's a finicky thing that tournament. My teammate and squad captain John Gaines taught me that it really does take several things to win the Eagle. You've got to bowl extremely well to begin with. No one who bowls bad earns the bird. You have to do everything just right. I won't really say what we did, but an example of what we did in our team event is one that will make several people say, "Huh?". It was obvious we did it right, we just didn't quite execute when we needed to. Finally, you have to have a lot (and I mean a lot) of just good things happen. Crash a nose shot, break a split, scout a 10. Whatever you think of as a good thing, it's got to happen. Only when these things collide do you remotely get a shot at winning.
This year our group had another close run, with our teams walking out in 8th and 11th places. We had a team leave in 8th place in team all-events as well. I've learned through four top-10 finishes already that even getting to the top 10 leaderboard is something to be pretty proud of. Top 10 out of thousands and thousands of entries? Not shabby.
But it's the bird we all chase and dream to own. Someone asked me this week, "You guys consistently seem to threaten that bird.....how do you remain up top like that?". I answered that it was two to three key things in my opinion. First and foremost, everyone in our group can bowl. That doesn't mean everyone is a Team USA player or Hall of Fame candidate. But it does mean that everyone knows how to "bowl." I don't mean that we can all throw the ball and hit our target. It's more of a feel thing. It's knowing when to move on a five-bagger. Knowing how to shoot a 2-8 in the fifth frame of team event when the backends are still sideways. Knowing sometimes when hitting the one in the front is good enough at that moment. There's a thousand things I could type here, but I hope I made my point. Being a good bowler and knowing how to bowl are two entirely different things.
We're all great teammates. It doesn't matter if you're the person who just missed a single pin, the person who ended a game with a split, or the person who just shot 279. We're simply good teammates. We know when to pick each other up, when to leave each other alone, when one word is enough, and when four words isn't. Having a great mix of teammates and the right personalities is key.
Finally, you have to be able to spare. It doesn't matter if it's 2014 when the team record was shattered for 3700+, or if it's this year when currently less than 3300 is leading, you have to be able to spare at the OC. There simply aren't enough games to give these pins away. And every single person in this group HATES missing spares. I had an outstanding tournament with just four opens. Two were makeable spares that I chopped, and one was a covertible 2-10 split. I only had four opens the entire tournament, and I'm still kicking myself for these three misses. They're enough to get us from 8th to 6th in team event all by themselves. It's not a stone 9, a wrap 10, a pocket 7-10 bad break. Those things only matter in mind when you make all of your spares. I know my teammates feel the same way. If you can't shoot spares at the OC at a 95% or higher clip for all leaves, you're simply not going to win.
More on the OC later once it finishes up in July. For now, I hope we hold on to those top-10 finishes, and I'll think about that bird for another 51 weeks....