LAS VEGAS – Sunday evening in the South Point Bowling Center was a star-studded affair, as the Memorial Day weekend brought some of bowling’s best to the 2021 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
In a field that included a USBC Open Championships record holder, past champions, former Team USA members, past regional and national Professional Bowlers Association standouts, a pair of major champions and a handful of bowlers with honor scores at the Open Championships, it was pro shop owner Marvin Hale of Newbury Park, California, who was the bowler making the most noise.
Hale, a 47-year-old right-hander making his 15th tournament appearance, was extremely consistent across the two days and two South Point facilities. He opened his 2021 Open Championships campaign with a 710 series in team at the South Point Bowling Plaza and improved from there.
The career-best performance ended with a perfect game and a chance for the lead in singles and all-events.
“I knew I had been bowling well, so I just needed to stay with it,” Hale said. “I really thought something special was going to happen.”
After a 736 series in doubles, Hale started singles a little slower than he had hoped with a 202 game, but he rebounded in a big way, tossing 12 consecutive strikes for the 13th perfect game of this year’s event.
Though he’d need to be perfect again to tie Team USA member Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan, for the lead in Regular Singles with 802, the top spot in Regular All-Events, also held by Anderson (2,203), was much more attainable.
Needing 255 for a share of the all-events lead, every shot mattered. Hale started with a double, before leaving the 6-10 combination and chopping it, leaving him with minimal margin for error the rest of the way.
Hale began stringing strikes again immediately and stepped up in his final frame needing a double to pass Anderson. A 4 pin on his first offering ended his run.
Hale finished singles with 735, giving him a 2,181 all-events total, which is third overall.
When reflecting on the emotional night, it was easy for Hale to put the 300 in perspective. The game had ended with him crouching at the foul line and then placing his head in his hands as he broke out in tears.
“This is easily the most important 300 I’ve ever bowled,” Hale said. “With everything that’s going on in the world right now, as an African American, to do this in a national spotlight means the absolute world to me.”
Hale’s run wasn’t the only excitement on his squad.
His success helped This One’s For Pops of Sanford, Michigan, into sixth place in Team All-Events with a 9,730 total. He was joined by Bobby Robinson Jr. (1,936), Chris Martinez (1,902), Noel Vazquez (1,876) and Blake Earnest (1,835).
At the same time, Riding Kenny’s Coattails of Cincinnati was making similar moves and actually ended up tying Hale and his team with 9,730.
Bill O’Neill, a 13-time PBA Tour champion, led the effort with a 2,078 all-events total and was followed by two-time Eagle winner Kenny Abner (1,981), Jeff Fehr (1,952), Ronald Pollard Jr. (1,874) and Charles Easton (1,845).
O’Neill and Easton also cracked the top 10 in Regular Doubles, moving into seventh place with a 1,397 total. A few lanes away, Florida’s Sean Wilcox and Josh Johnson edged them with 1,398.
Wilcox, a former Team USA member and Open Championships first-timer, capped his debut by moving into third place in Regular Singles on games of 248, 248 and 280 for a 776 series.
Former Junior Team USA member Greg Young Jr. of Rockledge, Florida, and Aaron Ruiz of Nashville, Tennessee, lead Regular Doubles with 1,447, while K and J Finishing 1 of Carpentersville, Illinois, leads Team All-Events with 9,927.
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