Scott Poe has taken all the knockout punches the game of professional bowling has dealt him, and he keeps coming back for more.
There have been times when he missed the cut, failed to make a couple of crucial shots, had to limit his bowling to the local tournaments because of a lack of sponsors, and just ran into bad luck in a big tournament.
No wonder Poe, 34, has seen it all.
The Glen Burnie resident has been dabbling with the Professional Bowlers Association tour for nine years and won't let go of his bid to make it full time on the circuit someday.
But even Poe admits time is running out on him.
"The next nine weeks are pretty much do or die for me," said Poe, who has the sponsors now to begin a nine-week full-time trial run on the PBA tour. "If I don't feel like I accomplish something in those nine weeks, I'll return to my local leagues and part-time PBA status."
Those critical nine weeks for Poe begin today in the $150,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open at Fair Lanes Woodlawn. He averaged 198 for 10 games Monday to finish 47th among 60 qualifiers for the 160-man Fair Lanes Open field.
The competition began this morning at 9 and will continue through 10:30 tonight at Fair Lanes Woodlawn. The field will be reduced to 24 bowlers by tomorrow night.
This tournament would be a perfect opportunity for Poe to begin writing a Hollywood-type script in front of friendly fans and family members.
But he refused to get caught up in the euphoria yesterday after final practice rounds.
"I won't know how I'll do until tomorrow morning when I put my shoes on and go out there and bowl," said Poe. "I might shoot the lights out or can't find a spot to get in a good groove. People put too much pressure on themselves. I've seen guys say they were going to do this or that."
Poe said the game is too tricky to make any bold predictions.
"I could hit the headpin all day and still knock all the pins down or I could live in the pocket for 16 games and only bowl 180."
So why does Poe continue to seek a life on a circuit that can be a grind even for the top bowlers?
"I love the sport," said the man who drills bowling balls for a living at the Glen Burnie Pro Shop. "All I want to do is become good enough that every once in a while I would make the show [five-man stepladder finals on television]."
Poe will room with Bel Air's Marty Letscher the next eight weeks as they hit the PBA tour together.
After the Fair Lanes Open here, the two will head to Winter Haven, Fla., for the next stop.
"It costs $700 to $750 a week to get out on the tour full time," he said. "That's not easy to come up with in these tough economic times, but Wayne Stepp [owner of Glen Burnie Pro Shop], Harold Entwine [who bowls in local leagues with Poe] and my mother [Juanita Poe] are sponsoring me."
& The rest is up to Poe.