Amateur Titlist Can Win $2,500 And That's No Typo


January 09, 1992|By Donald G. Vitek

Anybody who thinks amateur handicap tournaments are fun but you can't really win much money in one is wrong.

Just ask any of the bowlers who took part in the National Amateur Bowlers Inc. New Year's Tournament at Crofton Centre. Better yet, at 2 p.m. Saturday, you can watch the finals of the tournament on Home Team Sports.

You can watch bowlers you know, bowlers from the center where youbowl, or your teammates win some fantastic amounts of money.

Thatmisconception about the amateur tournaments being small, poorly run affairs is wrong, too. There's been nothing but praise for the NABI tournament that Joe Doctor presents. Small? How about 639 entries in the single part of the event and 162 teams in the doubles part of the tournament?

Money? Try $2,500 for the single winner, who also won a trip to Las Vegas for the NABI national tournament in June.

How about the 50th place paying $100? That's not a typo; that's $100 to the bowler who finished 50th in the singles tournament.

How about total prize money in the singles tournament being $25,401? That's no typo either. In the doubles event, the prize money was $4,060.

Who won that $2,500? That was Jeff Johnson of Severn. Johnson bowls in the Tuesday Mixed and the Wednesday America leagues at Fort Meade. His dad, Louis, a 185-plus bowler, is retired from the U.S. Air Force.

Jeff has a 300 game to his credit and has thrown a 745 series. Twicebefore, in September 1989 and April 1990, he has won NABI tournaments.

"Jeff is really starting to learn the mental game," said his dad.

Jeff, 21, who has seven bowling balls, used a 16-pound Red Rhino to win the singles tournament from the first-seeded position under the television lights. Leila Wagner, a top woman professional, did the announcing, no less.

What's Johnson's doing different? How's he's managing to parlay a 179 average into tournament victories?

"I make sure that I never give up," he said. "I just try to concentrate on each ball I throw. That was my New Year's resolution, concentrate on my game every minute."

Jimmy Finster took second in the singles event. Larry Williams was third in the singles and teamed up with JoeGill to take second in the doubles event.

John Letros and Steve Trimble, both from Virginia, threw a 954 total to take the $1,000 first prize in the doubles event. Williams and his partner won $500, just15 pins off the pace.

Robert Marion and George Spencer, both fromAnne Arundel County, were just four pins below Marion and Spencer with a total of 935, good for $300.

Finster, retired after 20 years in the U.S. Army, carries a 159 average and has a high game of 236 and a high set of 578. He lives in Crofton and works at the control counter in the Crofton Centre.

Throwing a 15-pound Blue Hammer from the No. 4 position of the step-ladder finals, he defeated three opponents to meet first-seeded Jeff Johnson.

"I feel pretty good about finishing second," Finster said. "This is only my third NABI tournament. I'm starting to get used to the competition now. It's organizations like NABI that keep bowling interesting. Not everyone can compete in scratch events, but anyone can compete in a handicap tournament, especially when they are well-run like NABI."

That second-place finish was worth $2,000, including the Las Vegas package.

Williams, a government employee at Fort Meade and an Odenton resident, gets a LasVegas trip included in his $1,500 third-place finish. In the past, he has bowled in as many three leagues a week.

"I slacked off this year," he said. "I'm just bowling in the Monday Fun Makers League at Fort Meade." He has a 278 high game and a fine series of 701. His wife, Kay, carries a 153 average.


Every Thursday night the Crofton Centre has a No-Tap Tournament. It starts at 9 p.m. and entry fee is $10. Information: 721-2410.


This Sunday, you can enter thesecond of the Pro Spot Qualifiers at Fair Lanes Ritchie in Glen Burnie. Entry fee for the six-game event is $40.

Donald G. Vitek's Bowling column appears every Thursday in the Anne Arundel County Sun. Bowlers are urged to give Don a call with scores and tidbits at 247-0850.


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