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A lesson for league bowlers

Brian Valenta has an unconventional approach.
Brian Valenta has an unconventional approach.

Bowling fans who tuned into CBS Sports Network on Tuesday to watch the championship match of the Professional Bowlers Assn. Tour’s Badger Open in Shawnee, Okla., were handsomely rewarded.

Bill O’Neill and Brian Valenta staged a spellbinding duel that wasn’t settled until the final frame.

The 32-year-old O’Neill entered the match with four PBA Tour titles. The 29-year-old Valenta had none.

It was difficult not to root for Valenta, the decided underdog who looked the part with a heavyset appearance and an unconventional and somewhat ragged delivery.

This was Valenta’s first PBA Tour television appearance and he had personality, sparkle and freshness.

Valenta, a two-handed bowler, lofted each of his strike balls at least 10 feet down the lane. He went with a straightforward, straight-line approach to his spare ball.

Valenta (shown in photo) was enthusiastic throughout the match, gesturing freely when the pin action was especially kind to him – which seemed most of the time.

Valenta’s style was in marked contrast to the smooth delivery of O’Neill, whose hooks were slight but laser-guided to the pocket.

And yet, the right-handed Valenta played O’Neill virtually even the entire way. Valenta “willed” two straight strikes and a nine count in the top of the 10th frame to force O’Neill to roll a double in the 10th to win the match.

Undaunted, O’Neill calmly collected his two straight strikes en route to claiming the $10,000 prize (winning 243-235).

But Valenta’s first foray into television was a huge hit and he’s likely going to win his share of PBA titles before he’s through.

Said Valenta afterwards to PBA reporter Bill Vint: “My ‘A’ game is lofting, and I did pretty well today . . . I had a great time. I got a little intense, but I didn’t go crazy.”

Valenta’s effort offered a lesson to league bowlers.

And it’s this:

It’s not always necessary to use textbook form and a sharp-breaking hook to produce great results.

Just be comfortable in your approach – whatever that may be – and bowl well.

Then go home and be happy.

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