Bill Fong's 899 a new Texas Record By Jim Goodwin

    01/21/10

    United States

    Misses 16th USBC certified 900 series by a 10-pin

    20100119BillFong899.jpg46-year-old Bill Fong (pictured) made a little bowling history in his Monday Mixers league session January 19 at Plano Super Bowl. Fong, owner of his own hair salon for the past 20 years, missed a perfect 900 series by a hair, rolling 300-300-299 in his quest to roll the 16th USBC certified 900 series in bowling history. A stubborn 10-pin on his 36th delivery made him the 11th bowler to roll an 899.

    However, to set a new series record in a state that has produced such storied players as Bill Lillard, Mark Williams, David Ozio, and Del Ballard Jr. to name a few, is quite an accomplishment. The previous record was 890, set in April 2002 by DeSoto's Frankie Alonzo.

    One of the most remarkable aspects of the story is that Fong made a ball change after the first game. He had two Storm Reigns in his bag, and opted to switch to the one with a weaker layout after the opening 300 game. "The back ends always hook more in the first game, so my plan was to compensate with surface and a stronger layout after the first game, and it worked pretty well," he said.

    One might surmise that it worked very well. Fong worked in the pro shop business for six years and now drills his own balls in his garage. "I learned a lot when I worked with Tom Wicker, and now I am very meticulous about my equipment," he said.

    In the final frame, a large crowd gathered behind lanes 27-28 to watch. The center had all 48 lanes going with league business. Teammates and many others took photos with cell phones.

    "It was very exciting and pretty incredible," said Fong's teammate Tom Dunn, who has been bowling for a half century, but had never seen back-to-back 300 games. Tom and his wife Sandy were thrilled for their friend. "It was a privilege to watch," said Dunn.

    For most bowlers it is impossible to imagine what it must feel like to roll 35 consecutive strikes, but Fong appeared cool during the evening, talking with teammates, and playing one shot at a time. "I wasn't nervous till I saw the crowd behind us in the last frame," he said.

    And those nerves caused his first delivery in that frame to go a little high, tripping out the 4-9. His second shot was high flush perfect, and off his hand, the final ball made everyone think he had done it, but there stood the dreaded 10-pin.

    "I thought I had it," said Fong. "I guess it was just a little too fast. It felt good and the same. But who can be unhappy about an 899? It was a great night. I just kept telling myself, just roll it like you do in practice. I also thought about my breathing, making sure I took deep breaths to stay calm."

    Fong started bowling at age 13, and has had 21 previous 300 games and four series of 800 or better. He actually stopped bowling for about 10 years in his twenties to become a better golfer, like his sister, who was a standout player at Baylor University. "I love golf, but I knew I would never be the best, so I went back to bowling," he said.

    Fong's average in the Monday Mixers jumped from 228 to 230 after the big night. He bowls in four leagues, and with practice, rolls about 15-20 games a week.