By Don Wright
The eighth annual Killeen Open will bring nearly 140 of the best bowlers in the world to Hallmark Lanes this weekend and four-time champion Mike Scroggins will be hoping to add another eagle to his trophy case.
Scroggins captured the Killeen Open in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Chris Barnes came to town in 2000 and put an end to the Scroggins era. Well, at least for one year. Scroggins came back in 2001 and once again had the fans convinced that Hallmark Lanes is a lefty's house.
The 2003-04 season for Scroggins, a 15-year veteran of the PBA Tour, was truly remarkable. He appeared in a career-high five televised championship-round appearances, went 20-9 in match play good for a .690 winning percentage, which ranked 4th on Tour and had six top-10 finishes. Scroggins snapped a 192-event winless streak with his title in the PBA Baby Ruth Real Deal Classic in Belleville, Ill.
Scroggins has two career PBA Tour titles, with his first coming in the 1992 PBA Sacramento Open, his first career telecast. He won the 1999 National Resident Pro Championship in Reno, Nev., has cashed in 126 of 225 career events, and is 6-11 in 13 career TV appearances in singles competition averaging 219.71. He has made 64 match-play appearances, won a career-best eight regional titles in 1999, and has won $162,163 in regional winnings.
His latest regional win was in June as he outdueled his twin brother, Mark, to capture the Texarkana Open.
Barnes, of Flower Mound, considered by many to be the total package, made six televised final-round appearances during the 2003-04 season. Although he struggles on television he is one of the most consistent players on the Tour. His lone title last season came in the pre-season Japan Cup in Tokyo.
However, in addition to Barnes there have been two other Killeen Open winners who hope to win the eagle. Paul Fleming from Bedford captured the Bartlett (Tenn.) Open in May and during the 2003-04 PBA Tour he made six-match play appearances while cashing in 12 of 19 events.
Lonnie Waliczek, of Wichita, Kan., finished the 2003-04 season tied for 12th in match-play appearances (11). He cashed in 17 of 21 events, had seven top-10 finishes, and appeared in a career-best four televised championship rounds.
Another bowler to watch in this event is Austin's Wes Mallot. Mallot's most recent regional title came in July when he captured the Jonesboro (Ark.) Open. Mallot, a touring professional since 2001, finished the 2003-04 season strong, moving from 54th in the PBA World Point Rankings to 17th by the end of the season. He made four consecutive match-play appearances to end the season, highlighted by his career-best third-place finish in the PBA World Championship in Ypsilanti, Mich., where he lost to Mika Koivuniemi in the semifinals, 225-193.
Mallot is currently the Southwest Region average leader with 222.88.
Another fan favorite who would love nothing more than to capture the Killeen Open in front of his dad and in his home town is Killeen native Mike Shoemaker.
Mike started bowling competitively with the American Junior Bowling Congress on Fort Hood and has been a member of the PBA since 1993. Mike is currently eighth on the PBA Exempt Point list with 53,359 points. The top point finisher will receive an exemption to the PBA's 2005-06 season. He is currently 13th on the PBA Wild Turkey Bourbon Regional Players Invitational Points list.
The PBA has opened its membership doors to women and, according to Pete McCordic, PBA Southwest Region Manager, he expects two-time Woman Bowler of the Year Carolyn Dorin-Ballard will be competing in the Killeen Open.
Can a woman actually win? Well, Carolyn finished third in the PBA Regional Players Championships in June and is a first team member on the 66th Bowlers Journal All-American team.
The Killeen Open gets under way today with a practice session from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
The first Pro-Am will get under way at 6:30, following the reception.
Qualifying rounds will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continue until 10 p.m. The semifinals will start Sunday morning at 8 and conclude about noon. Match-play finals will start about 12:30 p.m. and conclude about 4.
Local bowlers Brandon Tinsley, Jorge Bardales, Sandi Irvine and Esther Navarro earned spots in the tournament by capturing qualifying events at Hallmark Lanes. Also, host proprietor and grandfather Dick Atkinson will get to see his daughter Karin and son-in-law John Ciesiolka compete while he baby-sits the grandkids.