PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, won the PBA50 Johnny Petraglia BVL Open on Wednesday for his 12th career title on PBA’s tour for players 50 and over, moving him into a tie for second on the all-time titles list with three other players.
In the first tournament of the 2019 season, the 59-year-old Williams beat finals top qualifier Sammy Ventura of Syracuse, N.Y., 288-205, in the title match at Maple Country Lanes in Clearwater, Florida, to tie Tom Baker, Gary Dickinson and Dale Eagle on the all-time list. John Handegard holds the record of 14 PBA50 Tour titles.
“I wasn’t really bowling well in qualifying until I made some ball changes later in the tournament where I could play outside and go straighter to the pocket,” said Williams, who had to battle all the way from the cashers round. “I started getting a much better ball reaction as the tournament went on. I was finally able to get to the pocket and then it was just a matter of getting all the pins to go down.”
In the semifinal match, Williams, who qualified second for the finals, also dominated by beating 2017 PBA50 Player of the Year Brian LeClair of Albany, New York, 277-225.
LeClair, the 2017 Johnny Petraglia BVL Open winner, started the finals by beating No. 4 qualifier PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida, 10-9, in a one-ball roll-off after tying the match 237-237. LeClair then went on to beat No. 3 qualifier Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, 238-213, to advance to the semifinal against Williams. Duke was trying for his sixth career PBA50 Tour title and Kretzer his second.
With his win, Williams, the PBA Tour’s all-time titles leader with 47 wins, moved a step closer to becoming the all-time leader on both of PBA’s national tours.
“If I’m going to challenge that record I’m going to need to get going,” said Williams. “The senior tour keeps getting better and better which means it’s going to be much harder to get the wins.”
Williams’ last win on the PBA50 Tour came in the 2017 USBC Senior Masters. He finished second three times in 2018 including the Johnny Petraglia BVL Open which was held at Farmingdale Lanes in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Ventura’s second-place finish was his career best on the PBA50 Tour eclipsing his previous best of third in the 2017 Race City Open.
The PBA50 Tour heads to The Villages, Florida, for the first major of the season when Spanish Springs Lanes hosts the PBA50 National Championship April 22-26.