FAIRBORN — As the saying goes, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
Well, PBA50 Tour points leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. was proof of that. He may not have won as many matches with his fellow competitors in match play, but he knocked down enough pins over the past two days to win the 2019 Fairborn
Central Classic, presented by Roto Grip, anyhow.
Williams, 59, of Oxford, Fla. may have tied for the worst match play record of Wednesday’s finals at 3-7-0, but his total pin count of 4,638 was enough for him to fend off runner up John Marsala of St. Louis (4,583), Dayton’s Brian Kretzer (4,485) and Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y. (4,439) in the final.
The PBA50 Tour points leader and seven-time PBA Bowler of the Year recorded his 113th career win in Fairborn.
“It always feels great when you win, but it was just kind of a tough go,” Williams said. “Guys were picking on me this morning after I lost my first six matches. Fortunately, they weren’t getting a lot of bonus pins for the win, so I wasn’t losing much ground. I bowled decently, then I had a couple of good games for my last two. I managed to bowl a lot of strikes when I needed them down the stretch, and was able to come away with the win.
“John (Marsala) did great there at the finish, and I knew he was going to be tough. I just managed to get it a little bit more than he did.”
Williams took home a nice Wright Brothers-themed trophy and $1,500 for the win. Marsala earned $1,000, Kretzer was third with $900 and Shafer rounded out the finals quartet with $800.
Williams knew he needed some solid final games, as Marsala actually led the tournament by five pins prior to the final round.
Marsala’s only unmarked frame of the two-game final round came in the 10th frame of the last game.
“It was a good day. I started off slow today, but I think I had the wrong ball in my hand,” Marsala explained. “I made a ball change after Game 3 and I don’t think I had anything under 225 after that. The ball change made all the difference in the world.
“Overall coming in at 11th and finishing second, I’m very very happy.”
Twelve bowlers had qualified for Wednesday’s final day of competition. The rest of Wednesday’s finishers were Mark Sullivan of Indianapolis, Larry Verbel of Mason, Mich., Danny Clark of New Palestine, Ind., Don Herrington of Ballston Lake, N.Y., William Peters of Dayton, Tony Johnson of Canton, Bill Watson of Monroe and Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich.
Competitor, tournament host and Bowl 10 proprietor Dave Flemming thanked the fans for coming out to watch the event, and he thanked local sponsors Fayette Drywall, Cherp Home Inspections, Northern Auto Repair, and the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival for their support.
“For some of you who don’t follow the Senior Tour, the tour starts back up next Tuesday in Minnesota, and you could conceiveably have the same four bowlers in the top-4 of that national tournament. … We do this for you guys, to promote bowling. Thanks for coming,” Flemming said.
While the 2019 Fairborn Central Classic had its lowest bowler turnout in its three-year existence, that was likely because the national seniors tour picks up again with a tournament in Monticello, Minnesota this weekend. A PBA50 Tour spokesman said having a 39-player field for an early week event was impressive, and that the tour looked forward to returning to Fairborn’s Bowl 10 again in 2020.