Greg Thomas of Irmo, South Carolina, opened with a 300 and averaged 251 for seven games Friday to take the first-round lead in the PBA50 Hamilton Lanes & Entertainment Center Open presented by Columbia 300.
Thomas, whose best PBA50 Tour finish was fourth in last season’s PBA50 South Shore Open, fired a 1,760 pinfall total with games of 300, 225, 270, 256, 249, 245 and 215 to lead PBA Hall of Famer and four-time PBA50 Player of the Year Tom Baker of King, North Carolina, who finished the round in second 38 pins behind with a 1,722 pinfall.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence coming into the season, but that’s been steadily improving” said Thomas. “I feel like I’m bowling pretty well but I’m leaving a lot of nine counts. I think bowling on the shorter (PBA Del Ballard 34-foot) lane condition is helping me get the hook I need on the back end to get the carry—I just hope I can keep it going.”
The 64-year-old Baker, a 10-time PBA Tour and 12-time PBA50 Tour winner, bowled games of 234, 268, 235, 200, 248, 269 and 268 to make a late-round surge to finish second.
Brian Boghosian of Agawam, Massachusetts, the 1999 USBC Masters champion, finished the round in third with 1,716 followed by Gary Shultis of Levittown, New York, in fourth with 1,684.
Reigning PBA50 Player of the Year Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix, rounded out the top five with a 1,670 pinfall.
“I got caught out in the transition in the third game but I’m not disappointed,” said Haugen, who was runner-up to PBA50 National Championship winner hall of famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. “I probably lost my focus a little bit in that game, but the important thing is I adjusted and got back on track.”
In his pursuit of a record 15th career title on PBA’s tour for players 50 and over and a record-tying fourth in a row, Williams, the PBA Tour’s all-time titles leader with 47 wins, finished the first round in 10th with 1,623.
Competition continues Saturday with another seven-game qualifying round with squads at 8 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. ET. Match play rounds get underway Sunday at 10 a.m. which will determine the five players for the stepladder finals schedule 5:30 p.m.