Pete Weber is a man starting to realize he’s not immortal.
Last night at the U.S. Open, the 56-year-old bowling legend went on an epic rant after withdrawing from the tournament with a hip injury. He was especially upset with tournament organizers from the United States Bowling Congress and didn’t hold his opinions back.
Weber, a 37-time PBA champion, was frustrated by the pre-squad practice setup for the event in which players bowl on a practice range for 20 minutes and then move to their starting pairs for one ball on each lane.
Each of the three squads at the U.S. Open have 48 bowlers. Those 48 bowlers have 14 lanes available to practice on for 20 minutes, which is an average of about three and a half bowlers per lane. The practice range was first introduced at last year’s U.S. Open, and the players knew far in advance it was back again this year.
However, with Weber’s fragile physical state, he felt he was unable to get enough warm up time under that scenario. Nursing an aging and injured hip, he was left with too few shots to get properly loose.
The result was watching Weber struggle to get to the foul line in the game and a half he made it through. It was clear he was in no physical condition to bowl. Toward the end, he could barely get the ball right of the headpin and things went downhill quickly.
The decision to withdraw from a tournament he has won a record five times was clearly emotional for Weber as he fought back tears talking with his ball reps from Storm. That emotion quickly turned into a fire in his belly, however.
When he got off the lanes, Weber clearly wanted to talk and tell his story, which he did to FloBowling. His candid analysis of the situation echoes some of what we have heard from other players this week but they are unwilling to speak up because of USBC and PBA’s code of conduct rules, which prevent players from being critical.
Is Weber wrong about the practice situation that made him so mad? Yes and no. There are too many players practicing on too few lanes, that much is obvious.
However, the basic premise of trying to keep bowlers from wrecking the pattern during practice on the fresh has merits. The PBA has tried to handle this by limiting practice times on starting pairs, while the USBC has tried the practice range method.
With too much practice on their starting pair, players often burn up and destroy the pattern’s integrity. With too little practice, they are left frustrated and annoyed like Weber. The balance is somewhere between.
As for Weber, it may be time for him to retire from full-time participation on the PBA Tour and focus his efforts on getting healthy in time for next season’s PBA50 Tour, a place where he is much more likely to build upon his lengthy bowling resume.
It’s clearly frustrating for Weber to watch his body deteriorate right before his, and our, very eyes, and he is obviously struggling to deal with that.
The harsh reality is Father Time is undefeated. And Pete Weber is quickly learning that.