As everyone who's ever had one knows, roommates are for sharing the load and, when they're not within earshot, telling tales on.
Picture four grown men, all professional bowlers and Texans, driving around the country together on tour in a sponsor's van and paired off in hotel rooms. And, at the same time, trying to make a living by competing against each other.
Del Ballard Jr., from Dallas, and Robert Lawrence, from Austin, stand 3-4 entering today's play in the $150,000 Fair Lanes Open at Kings Point. They travel with fellow Texans Bill Oakes and Mike Scroggins, both tour "rabbits."
"It's pretty interesting with four different personalities," said Lawrence. "One guy is kind of a loner. One guy is real shy. Del can be extravagant spending money and I'm as tight as can be."
But traveling together produces a professional understanding. "We come up and help each other if one is having problems," Ballard said. "We can point things out that someone is doing wrong. We know each other's games really well."
The closeness only goes so far, though. "When I get on the approach, I don't have any friends," said Ballard.
Nevertheless, the boys do manage to have a little fun after work. Ballard was pleased to disclose that "We were in Sunrise, Fla., last year. Robert and I had been in the hotel bar for a while. He said, 'I'm gonna go swimming.' He jumped in with all his clothes on. Then he took off all his clothes and a security guard came by and kicked him out."
Lest you think that PBA road life is one big skinnydip, Lawrence informs that Ballard, when things aren't going well, "is one of the world's greatest pouters. We'll either leave him alone or razz him to egg him on."
That's what friends are for, isn't it?
But Lawrence can tell one on himself, too. Once a partner in three pro shops and currently a wholesaler of bowling equipment, he knows how to find a bargain. Last year he won a PBA event in Peoria, Ill., that was sponsored by a national hardware chain.
"I'm the biggest brown-noser you'll ever see when it comes to getting something free," he admitted. "I tried to say on the air that if I ever get my house built, I would get all my tools from the sponsor. It didn't get on the air but did get in the newspaper. They loved it and sent me a toolbox full of tools and a bunch of power tools, too."
Lawrence has made the finals in six of seven events this year and cashed in all. Ballard has done especially well on synthetic surfaces, as is Kings Point's. He won the 1987 U.S. Open and the 1988 Masters and placed second in the 1986 Masters, all on synthetics. Both are considered favorites this week.
Defending champion Danny Wiseman finished 86th and failed to cash.
1. Pete Weber 6,015; 2. Jess Stayrook 5,800; 3. Del Ballard Jr. 5,822; 4. Robert Lawrence 5,845; 5. Ron Williams 5,845; 6. Bryan Gobel 5,794; 7. Raymond Edwards 5,698; 8. Charlie Tapp 5,706; 9. David D'Entremont 5,691; 10. Walter Ray Williams Jr. 5,705; 11. Norm Duke 5,671; 12. Bob Benoit 5,689.
Mark Bowers 5,677; 14. Brian LeClair 5,586; 15. David Guindon 5,695; 16. Amleto Monacelli 5,597; 17. Pete McCordic 5,618; 18. Jeff Bellinger 5,644; 19. David Husted 5,543; 20. Bob Learn Jr. 5,513; 21. Mike Miller 5,508; 22. Jeff Lizzi 5,535; 23. Bob Vespi 5,520; 24. Jim Pencak 5,341.