By Matt Cannizzaro and Brian Hirsch
USBC Communications

LAS VEGAS – Charlie Theobald of Minot, North Dakota, got out to a great start in his final set at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships and finished his fourth tournament campaign at the top of the leaderboard in Standard Singles.

The 34-year-old-right-hander bowled games of 268, 200, 228 for a 696 series Thursday at the South Point Bowling Plaza and catapulted past Fred Phillips of Richland, Washington, who previously held the lead with 658.

“It’s an unreal experience going into first place in this tournament,” Theobald said. “I hope it will hold up. I know there are a lot of good bowlers left to come, but it would be absolutely stunning if it held on.”

After a disappointing 516 start to his 2017 USBC Open Championships, Theobald bounced back with a 550 series in doubles. When he started singles, the pins just seemed to cooperate. He struck nine times in the opening game of and never looked back.

While he might not bowl as much, or as competitively, as he used to, Theobald was able to find the right attitude and composure when faced with the pressure of taking over the top spot on the leaderboard.

“I always enjoy getting to bowl with my teammates and friends because they make it fun,” said Theobald, who bowls regularly at Minot’s North Hill Bowl. “I didn’t start out so well in the tournament, but they were there to keep me in line and calm.”

Theobald last competed in the Open Championships in 2009. He appreciates the camaraderie but notes how bowling was a special thing for him and his father.

“Bowling for me, has had ups and downs,” Theobald said. “This game is very special to me, and it was something my father and I would do together. I lost him a few years ago and did not have the desire to bowl after he passed.”

Theobald finished the 2017 Open Championships with a career-high all-events total of 1,762, which is ninth in Standard All-Events. Stephanie Sanders of Bakersfield, California, leads with 1,826.

Early Friday, David Miller of Menomonie, Wisconsin, tried to chase down Sanders before settling into third place with a 1,795 total. Miller had sets of 622 in doubles, 591 in singles and 582 in team.

The Standard Division includes bowlers with entering averages of 181-209.

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