Splits, spares and strikes: On-again, off-again US Open illustrates troubles

There was a rather odd series of recent events that illustrate just a few of the struggles competitive bowling has been going through for more than a few years now.

I got my first bit of news from that strangest of news sources, the opening monologue early last Wednesday during Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC.

I haven’t watched his show a whole lot since he’s come on the air because direct competitor Craig Ferguson on CBS is my current favorite late-night host. Yes, I’m always up that late, if for no other reason than I tend to work till 11:30 p.m. or 12:30 a.m. so many nights here at the Journal.

During the string of jokes Meyers told, this was one: “The 2015 U.S. Open for bowling has been canceled due to a lack of interest from sponsors. And spectators. And bowlers.”

I didn’t remember the wording exactly but found two online sources that matched word for word.

Setting aside the jarring aspect of hearing this info as a joke, what are you supposed to do with that? Was Meyers serious, or just being flippant for an easy laugh? I figured it was basically true, since bowling isn’t a popular subject for poking fun at like the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is.

Being just before bedtime, I forgot about it until it was mentioned when I was bowling in the Chicago area on Saturday at the Petersen Classic, the toughest of all tough-to-score-in tournaments. Tough enough that if you can average 200 for eight games you have a shot at winning the $20,000 first-place prize.

By the way, my high-water mark that day was 155, though I never dipped below 130.

The news on the U.S. Open was brought up by my bowling partner and ex-Marquette resident Pat Sertich, who said he heard that the U.S. Open was back on again, though not until 2015.

The U.S. Open is held separately for men and for women, though the former is technically “open” and includes both genders.

Sertich pointed out the 11thframe.com website authored by former PBA touring pro and newspaper reporter Jeff Richgels of Wisconsin. He’s still a top-notch amateur bowler and files bowling reports online.

Richgels confirms that the Bowling Proprietors Association of America has announced the reinstatement of the Open, which hit its heyday in the late 1980s when it paid $100,000 for first place in the men’s event.

The women still have a version of their Open this year, though it will be called the Women’s All-Star Tournament, a name that harkens back to the 1940s and ’50s. There will also be a Senior U.S. Women’s Open, all in July in Rockford, Illinois.

There’s been rumors flying around for several years the Professional Bowlers Association might just fold its tent, and while it has retrenched by running much of its schedule over just a few weeks at one site and dropping the payout at its events, it still seems viable today.

We’ll just have to stay tuned and see where all this leads over the next few years.

Now for the final set of Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week for the season, two sets of them here today:

For the week of April 11-17, Ryan Lamere led a clean sweep by Red Rock Lanes bowlers, taking the men’s crown with a 182-pins-over-average effort in the Tuesday Major League at the Ishpeming center. He blew way past his 177 average with 713 on games of 233, 201 and 279.

The next two came from the Wednesday SIR Federal Credit Union League. Jim Kipling shot 125 over his 197 average with 716 and a 268 top game; and Eugene Larson was 123 over his 168 average with 627 and a 242 tops.

For the women, Bev Bennett, again in the Wednesday SIRCU, led the way at 91 pins over her 136 average with 499 and 191 best game.

Close behind her was Roxanne Willey of the Thursday Night Ladies at plus-88 from her 152 average with 544 and a 187 tops, then came Kathy Bowns of the Friday Nite Mixed at 79 over her 153 average with 538 and 196 best.

The other set of BOWs come from everything bowled since April 18, since leagues were winding down and some were already done by then:

Nancy Spencer of the T&T Ladies League at Red Rock takes the ladies crown at 122 pins over her 144 average with 554 on games of 187, 174 and 193.

Next were Kathy Bowns of the Friday Nite Mixed at 84 over her 154 average with 546 and 189 high game, then Nancy Gaines of the Tuesday Night Mixed at Superior Lanes in Marquette, going 59 over her 101 average with 362 and 146 best.

For the guys, David Lancour of the Tuesday Major shot 148 pins over his 200 average with 748 on games of 258, 254 and 236.

Runner-up was Glenn Ayotte also in the Tuesday Major at 136 over his 211 mean with 769 and high of 289, and in third was John Marquess in the Tuesday Night Mixed at 134 over his 166 average with 632 and 236 tops.