March 28, 2017
By Matt Cannizzaro and Brian Hirsch
LAS VEGAS – Defending Regular Singles champion Bobby Bures Jr. of Painesville, Ohio, returned to the biggest stage in bowling this week to put his title on the line at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.
After a slow start Tuesday at the South Point Bowling Plaza, the 29-year-old right-hander found his stride in the final game of doubles, shooting 258 to gain some momentum heading into his title defense.
When he started singles with a 10-strike 278 game, it would’ve been impossible not to think back to last year at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, when he put together games of 279, 278 and 258 for a winning 815 total.
This time, though, the pace slowed, even after starting his second game Tuesday with four more strikes. He added games of 207 and 235 for a 720 series, which is tied for eighth place in 2017, but shy of Matt Gasn of Clarksville, Tennessee, who leads Regular Singles this year with 802.
“I was thinking I had a really good shot at repeating, but I also was just trying to focus on the shot at hand, instead of focusing on what could be,” Bures said. “That was a really big challenge and the part I struggled with the most, next to transition.”
No bowler in 114 years of USBC Open Championships competition has successfully defended a singles title.
Getting the chance to compete on the same lanes as his father, a 1980 Regular Doubles champion at the event, already is a treasured opportunity each year, but to now both be recognized as tournament champions will make the annual trek even more special.
Bures, who made his sixth Open Championships appearance, was introduced as the defending champion in an award presentation prior to their team event Monday, and their success on the championship lanes was celebrated on the scoreboards with a gold cup next to each of their names, a tribute to all Open Championships titlists when they compete.
“It is a one-of-a-kind feeling and definitely overwhelming at the same time.” said Bures, who bowls regularly at Wickliffe Lanes in Wickliffe, Ohio. “The whole presentation was so spectacular that no words can describe it.”
One benefit to being the defending singles champion is having six games to get comfortable before it’s time to get to work.
Bures rolled games of 236, 189 and 200 in team for a 625 series and added 191, 183 and 258 in doubles for a 632 set. He and his father combined for a 1,253 doubles total, which is 20th overall in 2017.
“The first game of singles there definitely was nerves,” said Bures, whose 1,977 all-events total this week is good for 10th place in Regular All-Events. “When I started Game 2, I was feeling comfortable, and it was more the transition on the lane that got to me than the nerves.”
Regular Singles and Regular All-Events are for bowlers with entering averages of 210 and above.
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