Dean Billings of Rootstown, Ohio, struck on 22 of his last 23 shots to lock up the first 800 series of the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships on Wednesday.
The 49-year-old right-hander rolled games of 224, 289 and 300 for an 813 series at the National Bowling Stadium and helped Ace Mitchell of Kent, Ohio, to games of 1,030, 1,149 and 1,237 for a 3,416 team total, which is just outside the top 10 in Regular Team. Lodge Lanes Too of Orlando, Fla., leads with a record score of 3,538.
There have been 45 scores of 3,400 or better in 110 years of USBC Open Championships competition, with 12 coming this year, which also is a record.
The perfect game was the 13th of the 2013 event and the second of Billings’ 26-year Open Championships career, making him just the 27th bowler in tournament history with two. He is the 32nd bowler with both a 300 game and 800 series.
“I was really just focused on getting as many pins as I could for my team,” said Billings, who rolled a 300 game in the team event at the 2000 tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. “I learned during my days as a PBA member that anytime you find the shot like that, you have to exploit it and get every pin you can.”
Although Billings is the one who will be listed in the record book, he gives much of the credit to his teammates because they all worked together to break down the 41-foot Sport Bowling-certified oil pattern.
“I have great teammates, and we just went out there and did what we were supposed to do,” Billings said. “We played where you are supposed to play and opened up the lanes the right way. I shot the score, but they should get credit because they helped break them down perfectly. Honestly, I feel stronger about the 3,416 than my own scores. We’re a team, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Billings, the 1990 Petersen Classic champion, owns a 205.9 career average in 25 previous Open Championships appearances and a 244.16 mark in his last 12 games at the NBS, where he posted a career-best 2,117 all-events total in 2011.
While Billings remained focused on getting his team’s score as high as possible Wednesday, he was able to relax a little bit before his final shot, since the 800 and 3,400 both were locked up. His final strike was a bonus and one he was glad to share with his teammates and the crowd that had gathered behind him.
“I was a little more nervous tonight compared to last time because I had the best look I’ve ever had here, but I owe that to my teammates because of the way we all played the lanes,” said Billings, who bowls at Midway Lanes in Akron, Ohio. “When I shot 300 in 2000, it was the second game, so people weren’t done and crowded around like today, which made it really cool. I was excited when I got the 11th one, and I wanted the last one for my teammates and the crowd. It was a really special setting.”
Billings wasn’t the only one on the afternoon team squad throwing strikes. Charlie Commons of Brandon, Fla., and Harold Chapman Jr. of Sanborn, N.Y., also started the final game of the day with strings of strikes, before finishing with 296 and 288, respectively.
The team that shared the lanes with Billings and his Ace Mitchell teammates also made a run at the leaderboard. Moeller Plastering of Woodland, Wash., moved into seventh place in Classified Team with a 2,643 total. Schmitt Reddi Mix 2 of Bennett, Colo., leads with 2,763. In order to compete in the Classified Division, a team must have a combined average of 900 or below.