TAYLOR, Mich. -- Two sports legends crossed paths Sunday, Nov. 10 at Taylor (MI) Lanes at the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Greater Detroit Open - and one added to his resume.
On a day when the NHL's second all-time points leader "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe threw out the ceremonial first ball, Walter Ray Williams Jr. became the second-most winning player in PBA Tour history, passing Mark Roth with 35 titles.
Williams, Ocala, FL, defeated fellow PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss, Atlanta, GA, 213-196, in the championship match and earned the $40,000 top prize. He also claimed the top spot in season points and leads the march to the PBA World Championship in which the top eight will be seeded directly to the Round of 16.
"To eventually done what I've done is amazing," said the 43-year-old. "When I came out on tour 20 years ago, I never dreamed I'd be one of the best ever. It feels great."
Williams extended his streak of consecutive seasons with a title to 10 years (1993-2002/03). Earl Anthony holds the record at 14 years (1970-83). Anthony is the only remaining bowler for Williams to catch on the all-time win list (41 titles).
"Hopefully I've got a few good years left in me, Williams commented. "Anthony finished his career with three straight player of the year awards at 43, 44 and 45. It's one of my goals to be back in the race for PBA Player of the Year honors again."
Williams also ranks second to Anthony in player of the year awards, six-to-five.
Voss started slowly in the match with only one strike and a missed spare in the first four frames, just minutes after throwing three clutch strikes in the semifinals and advancing by only three pins.
"My heart was still pumping pretty hard," said Voss, who earned $20,000. "Throwing a double to win takes a lot out of you. I wish I would've had a few more minutes to rest."
Williams started with the first four strikes followed by a spare. He suffered his only open frame of the match when he failed to convert the 6-7-10 split in the sixth. But Williams alternated with spares and strikes for the win. Voss managed to stay clean after the fourth but threw only four strikes after the devastating split.
In the semifinals, Williams beat first-time finalist Kip Roberts, 227-222, and Voss slid by one-time champion Mike Scroggins, 229-226. Roberts and Scroggins tied for third place with $10,000 each. Scroggins failed in his attempt to become the first player to finish a tournament undefeated in match play (10-1). In the opening match, Voss, the wild card qualifier, upset Lonnie Waliczek, 213-196. Waliczek ended in third with $9,000.