Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. spent a relaxing day at home Tuesday, contemplating if not celebrating his 50th birthday.
In addition to his record 45 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour titles and more than $4 million in career earnings heading into the PBA’s World Series of Bowling, Oct. 6 marked the day Walter Ray Williams Jr. became eligible to begin compiling a new set of records as a PBA Senior Tour competitor.
“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to do this day for a long time,” he dead-panned.
“I’m just happy to be up and around.”
At age 50, Williams remains a remarkably physically-fit athlete. He plays golf at near-scratch level. He’s still a world-class horseshoe player. And he remains at the top of his chosen sport – bowling – with no end in sight.
“Amazingly, I didn’t expect to be doing this well this late in my career, but I’m still bowling fairly consistently and giving the kids something to shoot at,” he said. “Right now I’m exempt (to compete on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour) and that’s my main focus, but I’ll bowl most of the PBA Senior Tour events I’m available for, if my schedule allows. I might bowl a few regionals if I can, too.
“It’s funny,” he added. “Last weekend there was a senior regional about 50 miles away from me, but I wasn’t 50 yet…” It’s hard to imagine what Williams has left to conquer as he enters the 2009-10 season, but there are a couple of items on his wish list.
“If they don’t happen, it’s not a big deal, but winning the Tournament of Champions would be a nice addition to my portfolio,” he said. The Tournament of Champions is the only major title Williams is missing. A TOC victory would mean completion of the PBA Triple Crown (U.S. Open and PBA Championship), Grand Slam (add the USBC Masters) and Super Slam (add the PBA Touring Players Championship).
“I don’t expect it, and if it never happens, oh, well. The other is bowling a 300 on TV. I don’t expect that either, but I hope to get a few opportunities. “I’ve had a few chances at 300s on TV, but I either threw a bad shot or got a bad break.
People make a big deal about bowling 300 games, but bowling one on TV would be kinda special,” he said. “And it would be nice to throw one at someone else. I’ve certainly had enough of them (four) thrown at me.”
Williams has remained remarkably fit across the years. He has his occasional sore knee and sore wrist problems – functions of age, but otherwise he more than holds his own against “the kids.”
“Physically, I’ve kept my weight under control,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. About five years ago my wife (Paige) decided to get serious about her weight and I decided that was a pretty good idea for me as well. I started eating less, drinking water rather than soda, things like that. I don’t work out a lot, but I get exercise with golf and horseshoes. I probably do a real workout once a week or so, but it’s more diet for me than anything. I love to eat like everyone, but if I kept going the way I was going a few years, I was going to be way too heavy.
“I feel good,” Williams continued. “My biggest problem during the off season is that I don’t work at my game a lot. I’ve been doing some exhibitions, and I’ve bowled a couple of regionals. I’m going to bowl a couple more because I want to get ready for the (QubicaAMF) World Cup in Malaysia.
For me, tournament play is the best practice in the world.”
Another adjustment to Williams’ physical and mental well-being has been fatherhood. At age 47, he and Paige adopted their daughter, Rebecca, who is now 3. “Oh, yes, Rebecca counts as exercise,” he laughed. “Life is good.”
Williams is the top qualifier and will compete for his 46th career title in the finals of the PBA Motor City Open which will air on ESPN on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. Eastern.