GRANTS PASS — With only two pins separating the first three positions, Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich., averaged 240 Saturday to lead qualifying after the first round of the PBA50 Grants Pass Open at Caveman Bowl.
Sullins, a five-time PBA Tour and three-time PBA50 Tour winner, bowled a 1,921 eight-game pinfall total with games of 223, 201, 257, 279, 226, 232, 276 and 227. He led PBA Hall of Famer and two-time defending PBA50 player of the year Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., second with 1,920, and Terry Metzner of Kentwood, Mich., in third with 1,919.
"After the first couple of games I noticed everybody was striking except me so I thought I better get going," Sullins said. "I had some adjusting to do so I switched to a ball that would get into a roll earlier and did some experimenting with my release and was able to get to the ball to the pocket pretty consistently."
Sullins is hoping to improve on a best finish of fourth this season and also end a three-year streak without a win.
"It's been awhile," Sullins said. "There's a lot of great players out here right now and it doesn't get any easier. Generally, I've been qualifying well, but to lead a round is a good boost of confidence."
Williams, who bowled a 300 game in the round, is trying for his second title of the season and ninth of his career, having won the USBC Senior Masters recently for his first PBA50 Tour major title. Metzner will be trying to improve upon a career-best 16th place finish in this season's Miller High Life Classic.
Rounding out the top five were Bill Nichols of Roseville, Calif., with 1,880 and Don Breeden of Clive, Iowa, with 1,873.
The 71-player field returns for another eight-game qualifying round today to determine the top 24 players who will advance to match play on Monday, with the championship rounds scheduled for 6 p.m.