Qualifying day for Scorpion started like any other. I bowled the 7 games of qualifying, bowled poorly. So I bowled through lunch, bowled the 2nd set of 7, and wasn’t close to making the cut. I made Bill & Jason wait for me as I practiced for an hour afterwards. I knew practicing would certainly help but I would also have to drill as many balls as I could.
I was having a very hard time controlling my ball reaction during these events. As well as the new Ebonite equipment looked while I was at home, the tour conditions are a whole different animal. I would have to experiment with different drillings and surface to see what worked well for me. Although I didn't finish as the leader, at one point I was leading the tour in balls drilled. I finished the month with somewhere around 20. After all my experimentation I realized what I needed were symmetric core balls (Black Vibe, Raw Hammer Acid, Lane Breaker, Bash) as well as extremely weak pins (5 1/2-6 inches from my axis). The symmetric balls along with the drillings tamed down my reaction and created something that was smoother at the break point and more predictable. With the lanes being as difficult as they were my strategy was to have equipment that would control the pocket. The lanes were not allowing the players to create any type of great ball reaction.
Ok so enough technical jargon.
The shark championship was the last event before the World Championship. I felt like I had made a lot of progress during the numerous practice sessions and I have had some success on Shark in the past. The first block started off well and I was able to get off to a lead on the cut number. The 2nd block was a grind but I was able to start the block with six 200 games and not stress about making the match play.
I took on Robert Smith first in the morning. Robert bowled very well but was not able to put me away when he had the chance. I was able to hang around long enough and as the lanes got extremely dry my reaction got good as his faded. I pulled out the match in seven after being down 3-1.
Tommy Jones was my next match up. I have had some problems against Tommy the last few times and he is always a very tough match. He didn’t put up a fight the first game but came back with 750 for the next 3 and I found myself down 3-1 again. Lucky for me the lanes went through transition and the scoring pace slowed down a little. As we started lofting the left gutter his reaction started to diminish. I bowled a couple good games to win games 5 & 6. Game 7 was almost a disaster when I started split, spare, split. I didn’t like my chances staring at 34 in the 3rd. With my back against the wall I threw some great shots and managed a 5-bagger. I finished with 223 and it was enough to get it done. It was a huge win for me.
After two matches like that my confidence was really at a high. I was matched up against my good friend Chris Loschetter in the round of 8. I felt very good going into the match and was able to come out to a quick 3-0 lead. My reaction started to fade as his got better, and if there is one thing I have learned is that a match is never over until you win four games. I never let up and I was fortunate that he went through transition in game 6. I was able to close out the match in 6 games and advance to my first show of the new season.
It was such a relief to bounce back after the stretch of bad tournaments. All the hours of practice and drilling really paid off and things came together all at the right time.
The final tournament of the World Series was the World Championship. I took the confidence from the Shark into this event and bowled well in qualifying. I was short of receiving a bye and it ended up costing me. I was matched up with Sweden’s Martin Larsen. Martin is very accomplished and one of Europe’s best. He bowled very well and I never really felt comfortable in the match. I had the lanes very different and I wasn’t able to make the speed adjustments from lane to lane. I lost the match in 5, but I still had the Shark finals to look forward to.
It felt like an eternity to wait for the finals of the Shark to tape. We were the last show on Sunday night and everything was running about 2 hours behind schedule. I tried to relax during the day and not use too much energy. I felt fresh when the show started around 9pm. I don’t want to give away too much about the television finals but I will say that it was an entertaining show. I got to sport my new jerseys for the 09-10 season. Full Tilt Poker and Ebonite are my marquee sponsors and I hope to make them proud. Make sure you check it out the ESPN Finals on December 6th at 1pm Eastern.
Thanks for reading and check back for more updates soon!