Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walter Ray Williams Jr. Faces Stiff Competition on the PBA Senior Tour

When Walter Ray Williams Jr. went out on the Senior Tour last season after leading the regular Tour in all the major statistical categories and earning his record-setting seventh PBA Tour Player of the Year award at age 50, a lot of people were predicting that he'd tear up the Senior Tour. "If guys like Tom Baker, who haven't been a presence on the regular Tour for over a decade, are doing very well on the Senior Tour and Walter Ray is still more than holding his own with the youngsters, what chance do the other seniors have against his awesome game?" was what a lot of people, including Xtra Frame's Jeff Mark, were thinking.

Well, it turns out that one thing that's stopped Walter Ray from dominating his fellow seniors as totally as people predicted is the quality of his competition on the Senior Tour. There are a lot of guys out there who can flat out bowl. And yesterday, Harry "The Legend" Sullins was one of them, defeating Walter Ray in the title match of the PBA Senior Sun Bowl in The Villages, Florida 248-239 after Walter Ray destroyed 2008-2009 Senior Bowler of the Year Ron Mohr in the semifinal match 270-199. This was the second time Sullins defeated Walter Ray in a PBA title match. The first time was 25 years ago in 1986 when Sullins beat Walter Ray for a regular Tour title. Walter Ray went on to win his first Player of the Year award that year.

None of this is to say that Walter Ray hasn't prospered on the Senior Tour. He won the very first tournament he entered, was last season's Rookie of the Year, made the semifinals of the first Senior Tour tournament of this season last week before losing the final match yesterday, is leading in average after two tournaments this season by a whopping margin, and seems to be a virtual cinch to make match play and cash high in every tournament he enters. And, if the truth be told, he probably outbowled Sullins in the title match yesterday but just couldn't carry as well as his opponent.

Still, he's won, by my count, only one of the several senior tournaments he's entered over two seasons, and he's likely to face stiff competition from the likes of Ron Mohr, Tom Baker, last year's Player of the Year Wayne Webb (when he recovers from knee surgery), Johnny Petraglia, Mark Williams, Harry Sullins, and Steve Ferraro in every tournament he enters.

The PBA Senior Tour may be for "old" guys, but those "old" guys can still bowl. And for those of you who miss the action of the regular Tour while it's on hiatus, you can subscribe to PBA Xtra Frame and watch the Senior Tour action live along with listening to expert commentary from the likes of "Bowling Doctor" Jeff Mark and a panoply of bowling greats.

You can read more about yesterday's action in the PBA Senior Sun Bowl here. Below is video of a 1991 regular Tour match between Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Harry Sullins.

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