By Al Pote

PBA Hall of Famer Mark Williams wasted no time in making a run at his third tournament title in eight days, opening with a 279 and averaging 229 in his first eight games in the Miller Lite Decatur Senior Open at Spare Time Lanes.

A seven-time champion on what is now the Lumber Liquidators Tour, Williams defeated Harry Sullins 246-183 in the final game last Tuesday to win the Lake County Senior Open, successfully defending his 2008 title in Hammond, IN.

With three days between the conclusion of the Hammond event and the beginning of the Decatur event, the PBA Regional leaders filled the void by staging a tournament on August 5-7 in Arlington Heights, sporting a field of national tour stars.

Williams rode his hot streak into Beverly Lanes, qualifying sixth on Thursday and outlasting all of his opponents on Friday to win the suburban Chicago tourney and its $1800 first prize. Though records are incomplete, it is likely that Williams is the first pro bowler to win two events in two different cities in the same work week.

"I've been working on playing straighter, and it helped in the beginning of each block," said Williams, a dominant player in the 1980s with a slow-hooking yet powerful roll to the pocket.

Last week, when the lanes started drying out, Williams was able to go back to his former A-game to keep his scores up while the straight shooters found difficulty. "It helped that I was able to play the lanes both ways," Williams said.

Williams, who was voted into the exclusive shrine in 1999, left the main tour after that season and became a bowling center owner in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Though the scores are the same or higher now than a generation ago, it is a different Mark Williams who competes at the age of 51.

"I don't practice anymore, but I've stayed competitive by bowling about 12 regionals a year," Williams said. "But I added the straight game because versatility is so important. That's why Norm Duke has been so great for so long."


With half of the field waiting to start their tournament Sunday afternoon, the only name above Mark Williams was that of Bennie Holman. The 51-year-old ADM employee lapped the field with his first six games of 259, 242, 255, 244, 268 and 237.

Holman dropped down to 170 in his penultimate game, and then rolled a 211 to end the session at 1896, a 237 average.

"I didn't have to move until the 6th game," Holman said. "In the first couple games, when my original ball started to over hook, I went to a weaker (less-hooking) ball and played the same line."

When asked how his name looked at the top of the leader board, Holman answered, "I'm surprised it's there, but it looks great."


Tom Baker has spent most of the past four years away from his King, NC home, competing on both the PBA Senior Tour and the lucrative Lumber Liquidators Tour. This week, Baker has staked his tent in Decatur in search of his first title of 2009.

"It's more relaxed on the Senior Tour, but I look forward to the competition on the younger tour," Baker said. During this time, Baker has averaged 30,000 travel miles per year, most of them on land.

"My vehicle will be two years old next week, and it already has 43,000 miles on it," Baker said. Baker captured Player-of-the-Year honors in his first three senior seasons, and he earned the most famous big tour exemption-to-date with his win in the 2004 PBA World Championship.

Baker has enjoyed his dual-tour status, especially how the younger players seek him out for a little advice on how to win.

"They don't necessarily come to me about the mechanics, because their styles and my style are so different," Baker said. "But they do come to me about the mental aspect. I like it when they come up to me (in a complimentary way) and say, 'when you need to make a shot, you make it'."
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Final Results of the 2018-2019 Open Championships (City Tournament)

80th Annual Decatur USBC Open
Championship: Feb. 16-Mar. 10, 2019 - at Spare Time Lanes

Handicap Singles

  • Daniel Goebel - 793
  • Cory Hollis - 768
  • Michael Abel - 756

Scratch Singles

  • Phillip Barry - 747
  • Shawn Reed - 738
  • Jason Queen - 729

Handicap Doubles

  • Tom Adcock/Jason Queen - 1533
  • Garrett Strohl/Jarid Thompson - 1488
  • Bob Gray/Frank Bilyeu - 1458

Scratch Doubles

  • Tom Adcock/Jason Queen - 1533
  • Tim Frey/Phillip Barry - 1372
  • Patty Dodd/Bennie Holman - 1358

Handicap All Events

  • Cory Hollis - 2285
  • Bryson Poe - 2210
  • Jason Queen - 2168

Scratch All-Events

  • Jason Queen - 2168
  • Tim Frey - 2156
  • James Heckwine - 2113

Handicap Team

  • Nic Riley (Nic Riley, Ben McCoy, Michael Wilcox, Jon Alford, Phillip Barry) - 3634
  • Dad's Team - 3535
  • Bring Back Pla-Mor - 3406

Scratch Team

  • Nic Riley (Nic Riley, Ben McCoy, Michael Wilcox, Jon Alford, Phillip Barry) - 3567
  • Bring Back Pla-Mor - 3406
  • Balls Deep - 3187