LAS VEGAS – Despite a slow start to their doubles event at the 2019 World Bowling Senior Championships, Senior Team USA’s Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Parker Bohn III were able to put together three big games and give themselves a chance to advance to the semifinals.
The two finished their six-game block Thursday at the South Point Bowling Plaza in third place with a 2,512 total, and they’ll have to watch from the sidelines Friday morning as the second half of the men’s field hits the lanes looking to knock them out of the cut.
Williams led the way with a 1,278 total, and Bohn contributed 1,234.
Sweden’s Par Svensson (1,284) and Tommy Petersen (1,275) averaged 213.25 to set the pace, topping the standings with a 2,559 total. They were followed by Rolando Sebelen (1,281) and Jose Perez (1,268) of the Dominican Republic (2,549).
Fueled by the first 300 of the tournament, Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi (1,312) and Kimmo Lehtonen (1,195) closed with games of 520 and 494 to land in fourth place with a 2,507 total. Koivuniemi’s perfect game on the 42-foot World Bowling Tokyo oil pattern came in the fifth game of the day.
The top four teams will move on to the medal round based on their six-game pinfall totals.
“In the beginning, the lanes played a lot tougher and seemed flatter than they did during singles,” said Team USA assistant coach Bill Spigner. “The guys were really close, though, and they bowled well, especially the last three games. Unfortunately, they had some bad breaks and pocket hits that didn’t carry. We got up to third, and it’s going to be a coin toss tomorrow.”
Williams and Bohn, both United States Bowling Congress and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famers, started with games of 385, 395 and 395, but a move inside from Williams sparked a 459, 447 and 431 finish.
“It was a pretty good struggle the first couple of games, and even though I thought I threw the ball decent, every time I made a mistake, I paid for it,” Williams said. “The third game was a little bit of a transition, and then I was able to move in, where I found a much better reaction. I think that’ll be there again later in the team event, so figuring out the best way to attack the fresh and minimizing the mistakes will be the key.”
Even if they don’t make it to the semifinals, Thursday’s six games gave them a chance to try some things they didn’t do Wednesday in singles. Any information they gathered along the way could help their teammates in doubles Friday and as they all get into the team event.
“I honestly think we’re going to be a little bit short, unfortunately, but it was a lot of fun bowling with Parker,” Williams said. “He’s a great player, and I’ve been bowling against him for 35 years, so it was nice to bowl with him this time instead.”
Senior Team USA’s Ron Mohr and Lennie Boresch Jr., this week’s singles gold medalist, will take the lanes at the South Point Bowling Plaza on Friday at noon Eastern. The women will start their doubles qualifying at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and the semifinals for both divisions will get underway at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
The doubles pairings for the Senior Team USA women will be Leanne Hulsenberg and singles bronze medalist Tish Johnson, along with Sharon Powers and Lucy Sandelin.
The 2019 World Senior Championships features nearly 260 competitors from 41 countries. It is the fourth edition of the event, which debuted in 2013 and is held every two years. In 2017, the tournament visited Munich.
Competitors are bowling for medals in singles, doubles, team, all-events and Masters competition.
To be eligible, bowlers must be 50 years of age or older during the year of the event.
The 41 countries represented this week in Las Vegas are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy Japan, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.
For more information on the 2019 World Senior Championships, visit WorldBowling.org.