Columbia 300 Blog
2015 World Cup
Day 1 - Monday, November 3, 2014 – Travel Day / Practice
Today was a long day of flights after watching Mika bowl on the WBT show in Las Vegas. My flights were Vegas to London to Frankfurt on British Airways, then switch airlines to Lufthansa and arrive in Wroclaw, Poland at 10:30pm Monday night. All flights were a little late, but not enough to make any connections stressful. Unfortunately, my baggage didn't make it out of London, however, it was planned for Coach Rod Ross to take 3 balls over for me and I made sure I packed enough in my carry-on for two days of bowling. I missed all of the practice session due to competing at the WSOB and having to travel today. Fortunately, I drew C squad and don't have to bowl until 9:00pm tomorrow.
Day 2 - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 – Qualifying Day 1 – Games 1-5
I go and watch bowling in the morning. Scores are high, but not for everyone. A couple 1200's for 5 games playing the lanes straighter. Some guys that are really good at hooking it aren't even getting to 1100. Then 21 year old Tobias from Germany puts 1305 on the board, the bar has now been set.
Shockingly, my luggage arrives at the hotel before 6:00pm and I have all my clothes, balls, and everything else I packed!
Squads are running late and I finally start at 11:00pm. This actually works out pretty well for me as it is still afternoon back home and I feel wide awake. Execution is pretty bad, but ball reaction is tremendous. I’m using a combination of Eruption and Eruption Pro’s (Orange, Black and Hybrid). I shoot 1178 for 5 and am in 4th. I learned a lot about center and pattern today.
Day 3 – Wednesday, November 5, 2014 – Qualifying Day 2 – Games 6-10
I bowl B squad today. I went and watched my teammate Brittni Hamilton bowl this morning as she is beating them up pretty good, playing around 7-8. Most guys are playing a little left of that in the track.
I throw it a little better today and chase the pattern left. They are much easier from there, but carry is an issue. Had one open in the first 10 games and that was a 4-9. I finished with 1157 for the 5 today and am still hanging around the leaders, with the exception of Tobias, who is starting to gap out a bit from the field. The pattern is playing kind of flat front to back, so even though there is a lot of shape in the pattern (probably 5:1) it’s a bit tricky to strike sometimes. I need shine for the heads, but hard to pick up in the mid-lane, so I took a lower pin eruption pro hybrid and plugged it. Put the pin in the center of my grip with a hole down at 45 degrees (known as a Rico drill these days) to try and help pick up in the mid-lane better.
Day 4 – Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Qualifying Day 3 – Games 11-15
I bowl A Squad at 8:00am. I got to bed decently last night but couldn't sleep. I gave up around 3:30am and read for an hour and then tried again until 6:00am. No mas. You would think after this many trips I would have the whole jet lag thing down. Most of the time I'm pretty good, but not so much this trip. No worries, it’s only 2 hours of bowling.
I start bad with a 7 pin, a 10 pin and an 8 pin in the first 4 frames. Then I try to make it strike (cause that ever works… :/). I then proceed to 2/4, Greek church, leave another ringing 10 for 179 game 1 and I just gave 60 pins to the field. In game 2, I left 5 ten pins and a 7-10 for 195 and I'm feeling this thing slip away. Fortunately, the ball we plugged doesn't shape as well as some of the others but strikes more and I am able to shoot 724 the last 3 to salvage a mess. I drop to 6th overall but only 40 out of 2nd place.
Day 5 – Friday, November 7, 2014 – Final Qualifying Day – Games 16-20
Enough is enough, I decide to go to the Sky Tower bowling center and get 3 balls, take a taxi to another center and practice for a few hours. I get my swing straightened back out and find some rhythm. The center is about like bowling at a recreation center. Pretty sure they oiled them last Sunday, give or take, ha-ha, but a good practice nonetheless and I got my feet back underneath me. It paid off that night. I started playing a little further out where Brittni has been playing them and shoot 781 for the first 3 with the plugged Eruption Pro Hybrid. I hung out there too long and shot 214, 218 the last 2. But the game plan is clearing up. Need to play them out for 3 games then move in to around 15 with an Eruption or Eruption Pro is the plan for tomorrow. They cut to 24 after today and tomorrow we bowl 8 more games before cutting to the top 8 for match play. I’m in 3rd, still a long way behind Tobias, but only a few pins behind Khalika from Ukraine. We’ve got a bit of distance between us and the others.
Day 6 – Saturday, November 8, 2014 – Moving Day – Games 21-28
Started off well with the front 6 and ended with a bunch of 9's for 247. That was a precursor to the rest of the block as the flat ten, ring ten barrages continued. I tried a lot of different things through the next 5 games. I went with more surface, more angle, less speed, more axis rotation, then more speed, less angle, less surface.... Well, you get the picture. I eventually came back full circle to the same Rico drilled Eruption Pro Hybrid and slid 20 left of where I was game 1 throwing it slow, maximizing axis rotation, and lofting it. It seemed to be the right match up as I started carrying the off hits and finished with 286 and 268 to get back to 3rd place. Tobias is unreachable with 8 to go even with 30 bonus pins per win. But, the other 7 guys all have a chance to make the top 3. I am only a few pins out of 2nd and 40 ahead of 4th now heading into match play. I’m changing a couple surfaces on some balls, as well as plugging and lowering a weight hole in a ball to try and get more in the mid-lane.
Rod had his hands full today and an old coach of mine also said a couple of things that helped me to get to the right combination.
Sometimes it takes a village!
Day 7 – Sunday November 9, 2014 - Round Robin Match Play (Top 8) – Stepladder Finals
I started off the day bowling Columbia's Manuel Otalora. I was playing 7-8 pretty direct, but it was a rehash of the worst parts of the previous day. I go, stone 8, stuff 9, triple, ring 10, strike, half 10, strike, shaker 7 to shoot 216 and lose by 9. Great news is, I have a good ball reaction again, bad news, I am immediately put into chase mode and unsure of the right combination today. I decide to move a little left into the track and throw a key double in the 10th to beat Tobias. I double again in the 10th a few games later to win another close match. Now, Mykhaylo has got the wheel matched up and he is shooting 250 or better every game. He runs right by the rest of us (excluding Tobias) and into 2nd place. I start using a Black Eruption Pro with some surface and get the slow hook working with 258 in game 7 to get me close. With only the position round left, Tobias is locked into 1st (for about 4 days now), Mykhaylo is 2nd, and Magnus Johnson is 34 pins ahead of me and in 3rd. It is now or never, and I managed to put it all together at the right time with the right ball and lane play. I end up throwing the front 6, he follows an early string with an open and I run off to an early lead and never looked back. I left couple corners to finish the game and I am on the show!
The show is best 2 out of 3. They strip and oil the lanes before every match and the Women’s Finals are first. You get two practice balls and go. Brittni makes some great shots but the Malaysian girl comes up big in the 10th frame of game 3 to advance to face Clara Guerrero for the Cup. Clara wins game 1 with a double in the 10th and continues striking shot after shot with a Mad Antics romping her way to a win! Great shot making and a great ball is very tough to beat!
On to the Men’s Semifinal, Mykhaylo decided to go with the same route of hooking the lane that sent him from 8th to 2nd in the 8 games of round robin. But, the extra strip and oil runs seemed to flatten the middle out a little and he couldn't create the same push from in there that he did earlier in the day. I went straighter with the Eruption Pro Hybrid, rolling it game 1 and got the first strike in the 10th to win game one, 216-208. In game 2, I increased my axis rotation a little and let the ball do what it does best, hook down lane. From there I started out with 6 really good strikes, followed by a shim shot and a trip 4. Finally, a flat 10 that the Hybrid had enough power to chop down, and 12 shots later, I’ve got a 300 game in World Cup semifinal!
In the final match I thought Tobias would either, A) be a little nervous about throwing his first important shots in 4 days and give me a little opening, or B) stay on autopilot and continue striking at will like only a 21 year old can. Unfortunately, it looked like option B was in play. Playing 17 to 7, he split the 8-9 the first 4 shots. I went back to a little straighter option like in the previous match but was dialed in a lot better. He left a few 10 pins and I was able to run a big string after an opening 10 pin. Going into the 10th I needed the first one to shut him out and I threw one of my best shots of the week and once again, the Hybrid crushed them for a victory in game 1.
In game 2, I continued striking until I pinched one and left the 4-6-10. At that point it was very back and forth. After a couple 10 pins in the 7th and 8th, I opted for more axis rotation the rest of the way. Tobias left a 10 pin in the 9th and right then I had my opportunity. I struck in the 9th, then, flushed a perfect shot in the 10th to regain the lead. Needing one more to shut him out, I got a little forward and missed it a bit on the bottom, but fortunately the shot was online and just tickled everything down. I stood there in disbelief. After 20 years of trying to qualify for this event, finally getting my shot and knowing it would probably be my only one, giving up the Japan Cup to be here, it all came together and I won the World Cup. At the same time, I felt bad for Tobias, while the record books will show that I won the tournament, in no way do those two games change who the class of the tournament was. He dominated us all, from the opening block on and has established himself as a future star in our sport.
Leaving Poland I was left with many impressions. First off, the country itself is beautiful. Wroclaw was very hospitable and welcoming. The food was very good and the Sky Tower Mall where we competed was as nice as any mall anywhere in the world. Next, the World Cup committee does a very good job of running this event. I give kudos to Qubica AMF for continuing to run one of the longest standing world championships in any sport. Finally, I must say there are a lot of great people in our sport. Lukasz and his staff at the pro shop were great. I re-drilled one of the Eruption Pro Hybrids I brought over and they were so helpful to me and many competitors in preparing equipment this week. There were many I knew before the week. Some had been coaches responsible for helping me become the player that I am today and others are the competitors that I have faced so often and provide the inspiration to practice harder, knowing they will be passing me by if I don't. Others were those that I met for the very first time. A continual reminder of how special the community we are a part of is.
I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the rich history of this event and join the list of champions, which as usual, includes my wife Lynda winning it before I did.
Overall, a great day for Columbia 300! Proving once again how good our brand is and how many different styles it can help win a title at any level. #letsbowl