Walter Ray Williams Jr. Returns to Winning Form on Way to Third PBA50 Player of the Year Award

by Jerry Schneider August 15, 2019 08:19

CHICAGO  – After winning his third PBA50 Player of the Year Award in his 10th season competing on the tour for players 50 and over, 59-year-old PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. sent a message that he will be a major force for some time to come competing in the “senior” ranks.

Williams, who also earned the PBA50 Player of the Year crown in 2012 and 2013, opened the 2019 season with three consecutive wins including the PBA50 National Championship for his third career PBA50 Tour major, and never had a finish worse than ninth until a 17th-place finish in the PBA50 David Small’s JAX 60 Classic, the final PBA50 event of the season.  

The all-time Go Bowling! PBA Tour titles leader with 47 wins brought his career PBA50 Tour titles count to 14 which tied him for the all-time PBA50 Tour titles lead with retired Hall of Famer John Handegard.

“Obviously, it was a really good, encouraging season,” said Williams, who owns seven Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year honors on the PBA Tour.  “I wasn’t always the best bowler in the field (this season) but you can’t argue with three wins and the other top finishes I had.”

Williams is among a handful of players who continue to compete on both the PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour including fellow Hall of Famers and rivals for more than three decades, Norm Duke, Pete Weber, Parker Bohn III and Amleto Monacelli. Williams’ PBA50 Player of the Year award came at what could be a crossroads for his career on the PBA Tour.

“I wasn’t pleased with how I bowled on the regular tour this season so the PBA50 Tour gave me a lift,” he said. “Bowling on the regular tour has always been enjoyable for me but last season wasn’t enjoyable. I’m not ready to retire from bowling on the PBA Tour but that’s a tough tour with all those young guys.”

So tough, in fact, that Williams has added the two-handed delivery – made famous by tour stars Jason Belmonte, Anthony Simonsen and Jesper Svensson among a growing number of others – to his arsenal. He employs the technique to be more effective primarily when he has to play an “inside” shot.”

“Basically, if I have to move way inside and throw it right, that’s when I’ll use it,” Williams said. “It’s still a work in progress but it has become a useful tool for me when the (lane) conditions warrant it.  I like the results I’ve had with it, so I’ll continue to develop it.”

One example of the effectiveness of his two-handed technique was his performance in the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open where he eventually finished sixth after starting the tournament in 53rd after the first round of qualifying. He used the two-handed delivery often in qualifying and match play to negotiate the challenging Senior U.S. Open lane condition eventually finishing sixth. The fruits of his labor with the two-handed delivery paid off again when he bowled a 300 game in qualifying for the PBA50 River Extreme Open to become the first player to bowl a 300 game using a traditional and two-handed delivery in national PBA competition.

Williams led the PBA50 season with 32,480 points, more than 10,000 ahead of 2017 PBA50 Player of the Year Brian LeClair, who finished second with 22,320. Williams also led in earnings with $42,525 and was third in average with 227.48.

Three-time PBA Tour titlist Eugene McCune won the PBA50 Spectrum Lanes Open which served as a springboard to winning PBA50 Rookie of the Year honors. Bowling in just six tournaments, the 51-year-old hard-throwing right-hander, also had ninth-place finishes in the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open and the JAX 60 Classic and 13th in the USBC Senior Masters that contributed to his 11,070 point total leading rookie contenders. 

Ron Mohr action 1PBA Hall of Famer Ron Mohr once again dominated competition among players 60 years of age and older to win his fourth consecutive PBA60 Player of the Year Award.

The 63-year-old right-hander won the PBA50 David Small’s Championship Lanes Classic for his 11th career PBA50 Tour title and had a string of six top-five finishes in PBA50/60 tournaments plus a sixth-place finish in the PBA60 Dick Weber Championship to end the season.

“It’s been an unbelievable year, “said Mohr, a two-time PBA60 titlist who is the only player to win more than one PBA60 tournament since the category began in 2014. “I don’t recall ever being on a stretch where I’ve bowled that consistently well.

“I believe I have some good years left but what does concern me – like every athlete – is the time when you’re no longer competitive and you have a decision to make. But for now, I’m still seeing the lane (condition) well and throwing the ball with confidence.  Hopefully if I continue to focus on good execution the outcome will take care of itself.”

Mohr finished the PBA50 season third in points overall behind Williams and LeClair with 20,575, ranked fifth in average 222.53 and second in earnings with $33,440.

PBA50 Tour players will have the opportunity to vote on the PBA50 Dick Weber Sportsmanship award that will be announced later.

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