Franklin native Watson claims first PBA50 title

Bill Watson

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Bill Watson

Bill Watson cut it close, a little closer than he would have liked.

Only the top 16 bowlers were advancing to round robin matchplay at the PBA50 Ohio Lottery/Bowler X/Baldo Campana Memorial Central Open. A regrettable ball change before the eighth game of qualifying reduced Watson’s chances considerably.

“I was ninth heading into the last game and only made the cut by two pins,” Watson said. “I was averaging 216 and then shot 171, so I wasn’t sure I would make it.”

Watson edged out Gary Schluchter, 1,702-1,700, to claim the final matchplay berth. He made the most of the opportunity with a solid second-day performance, earning his first PBA50 title at Rebman Recreation in Lorain on Sunday.

“I’ve had several second-place finishes in regular PBA Regionals over the years, but my best PBA50 finish was eighth,” Watson said.

The 55-year-old Franklin native, who now resides in Maineville, got off to a slow start in the 12-game matchplay round but made some much-needed adjustments midway through the day.

“Then I went on a tear,” he said, smiling.

Watson posted an 803 series in his next three games and led the field by 170 pins with two games to go.

“It was a little more relaxing knowing I was ahead,” he said.

A 256 and 279 in the final two games secured the win for Watson, who finished 7-5 in matchplay and tallied a tournament-high 230.80 average.

The win was a bucket-list accomplishment for the longtime bowler who got his start in the sport 45 years earlier at Eastern Lanes. From youth leagues to JTBA tournaments to the PBA50 ranks, much has changed, but Watson’s love of the game has remained constant. Watson wasn’t the only Dayton area bowler who placed in the PBA50 Regional event as Brian Kretzer finished third and Dave Flemming was seventh.

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Bill Watson won the PBA50 Ohio Lottery/Bowler X/Baldo Campana Memorial Central Open Sunday - Contributed

Bill Watson won the PBA50 Ohio Lottery/Bowler X/Baldo Campana Memorial Central Open Sunday - Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Bill Watson won the PBA50 Ohio Lottery/Bowler X/Baldo Campana Memorial Central Open Sunday - Contributed

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