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 event of the season.
The all-time 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.