Ball switch enables Kent to make change at the top

March 02, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Jim Johnson, Doug Kent and Dave D'Entremont defied the conditions big-time yesterday in the opening round of the Professional Bowlers Association Greater Baltimore Open at the Country Club Lanes.

On a day when big numbers were not the norm, Johnson was able to do something he's done more than any other bowler -- roll a perfect game. That was after D'Entremont had blistered the lanes for a 248.5 average in his first six games to take a substantial early lead -- and before Kent turned it on late.

After changing balls during the eighth frame of his first game in the second shift, Kent made up 155 pins to vault into the lead with a 12-game total of 2,774 pins. He opened his second session last night with a 166 -- but then averaged 253 over his last five games.

"[The scoring] got better when the oil started to break down," said Kent. "The lanes change as the day goes on and you can't afford to get caught with the wrong ball."

That influenced Kent to make the switch that helped set up his late charge.

"It's the same make ball -- just drilled different," he said. "I started out using a straight ball, then went to a later breaking one.

"I've been struggling with my timing," Kent added. "But I was very, very pleased with the way I bowled. I felt very good, very smooth."

With 160 bowlers competing for first-prize money of $18,000, Johnson wasn't even in the picture until his last game. After 12 consecutive strikes he jumped from a tie for 48th to 32nd and finished with a total of 2,550 pins, giving him a 212.5 average for the day.

It was fourth perfect game on the tour for Johnson, his second in two weeks.

It was also the 54th of his career, which is five more than the American Bowling Congress' sanctioned record. Mike Whelan, of Dayton, Ohio, who is not a member of the PBA, holds the recognized record of 49. Bob Learn Jr., who is competing in the PBA's first tournament here in three years, has rolled 48 perfect games.

There is a simple reason for the discrepancy: Johnson hasn't kept in touch with the ABC. "I haven't called them for a while," said Johnson, who had about 25 fans from his hometown of Wilmington, Del., on hand. "I'll have to get my association to get them [his 300 games] accredited."

Any 300 game bowled on the PBA tour is automatically accredited, but those recorded during sanctioned league competition have to be recorded. And Johnson has a few he hasn't gotten around to documenting.

Johnson actually had a hint of what was to come in his 11th game last night, when he rolled a 199.

"I didn't have an open frame, but all I was getting was a nine-count," he said. "One of my sponsors said 'You should've had a 300 in that game.' I told him maybe it would carry over."

Johnson acknowledged that scoring conditions were difficult, but wasn't surprised when the big numbers turned up.

"No matter how tough it is, someone is always going to light it up -- like Dave [D'Entremont] did this morning," he said.

And as Kent did last night, finishing with games of 279 and 269.

Kent of Canandaigua, N.Y., has never won on the PBA tour. He finished with a seven-pin advantage over David Traber of Woodstock, Ill.

D'Entremont finished the day in third place, with a 2,738 count.

Of the local bowlers participating, Martin Letscher of Bel Air had the day's best score, 2,567, good for 24th place.

He is 12 pins ahead of Aberdeen's Mark Bowers, who is 29th.

The final six games of the qualifying round will be rolled this morning and afternoon, after which the top 24 begin match play to determine the five finalists for Saturday's nationally televised finals.


Where: Country Club Lanes, Pulaski Highway, Rosedale

When: Today, 9 a.m.-3:15 p.m. (field is cut to 24 for match play); 6:15 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Tomorrow, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (eight games of match play); 6:45 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (eight games of match play; field is cut to five bowlers for stepladder finals); Saturday, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (stepladder finals).

TV: Saturday, 3 p.m., chs. 2, 7

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