FAIRBORN — Watching legendary pro bowler Walter Ray Williams, Jr. play with the family’s puppy dog after the July 2 qualifying round for this week’s Fairborn Central Classic PBA50 Tour bowling tournament, fans could see the “Eir” of his ways.
Eir, a months old puppy, spent a good portion of Tuesday’s qualifying rounds asleep under a layer of chew toys in one of Williams’ old bowling ball bags. It wasn’t until the final frame of pins had fallen and Bowl 10 had become relatively silent that the dog began to get a bit rambunctious.
That’s when Williams spent some time playing with his new buddy, Eir.
While he hovered among the top scorers for much of the afternoon, Williams said he finally found his rhythm late in Tuesday’s 10-game qualifying round at Bowl 10 Lanes in Fairborn.
“I was kinda comfortable, but honestly I liked my reaction a little bit better yesterday,” Williams said, still dodging licks from Eir. “Today was a little bit different for me. It was in the next-to-the-last game where I decided to move a little bit more to my left and hook the ball more, and that worked out great.”
Williams rolled 10 consecutive strikes in that seventh game. He left the 10 pin on his next throw, but easily picked up the spare to toss a 289 game on Bowl 10’s Lane no. 9.
“Fortunately, I was able to grind it out today. … I somehow emerged in the lead today, now I hope to just continue doing that tomorrow, and see where I end up.”
Williams, considered one of the best — if not the best — U.S. professional bowlers, ever, has won a record 47 Professional Bowlers Association tournaments, and is currently tied for the most PBA50 Tour wins with 12. He led Tuesday’s qualifying round with a 1,844 eight-game pin total, averaging 230.50 for the day’s work.
Joining Williams in Wednesday’s 10 a.m. start of Round Robin Match Play will be Ryan Shafer, of Horseheads, N.Y. (1,838), Don Herrington, of Ballston Lake, N.Y. (1,805); Larry Verble of Mason, Mich. (1,791); recent U.S. Senior Open runner-up Brian Kretzer of Dayton (1,779); Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich. (1,743); Danny Clark of Palestine, Ind. (1,735); Canton’s Tony Johnson (1,716); Dayton’s William Peters (1,708); Mark Sullivan from Indianapolis, Ind. (1,703); John Marsala of St. Louis, Mo.; and Monroe’s Bill Watson (1,673).
Locally, Beavercreek’s Jack Donahue placed 16th overall with an eight-game series total of 1,641, Bowl 10 owner Dave Flemming of Fairborn was 23rd (1,569) and Beavercreek’s Robert Kemp placed 27th with a score of 1,497.
Bowlers will begin round-robin match play at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 3, with the top-4 bowlers advancing to the semifinals for a two-game head-to-head match play round to determine the tournament’s two finalists.
The public is invited to come out and watch Wednesday’s tournament rounds, and admission is free.