Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 11:30 p.m.
The reigning Professional Bowlers Association’s Rookie of the Year could have just as easily stayed fixated in the moment Thursday night at Red Rock Lanes.
Instead, Rhino Page finished his star gazing in warm ups and proceeded to roll a perfect game during the opening round of match play in the H&R Block Tournament of Champions.
“When I reported to my starting lanes at the start of the tournament, I found out two of my boyhood idols were right there,” the 25-year-old Topeka, Kan. native told pba.com.
“Parker Bohn III was on my pair, and Mike Aulby was next to me. Just to be in the same event with two of the guys I’ve idolized my whole career was a thrill.”
But Page’s giddiness subsided and after rolling a pair of 289 games earlier in the round, he closed the session with 300-point perfection to take a 23–pin lead on Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas.
“It was a roller coaster day,” said Page, who finished the 32-game, fourth round with a 240.3 average. “Fortunately, my peaks were really high and my valleys weren’t too low.
“I’m going to stay focused and not get into a mode where I think I’m locked into the TV show. You can’t be thinking about winning a major. If you get complacent against any of these guys, you’ll get your butt kicked.”
Norm Duke of Clermont Fla., watched his bid for a record fourth consecutive PBA major title fall short when he failed to advance to match play. Duke finished in 39th place.
Las Vegas’ Don McCune finished 60th, taking home $1,300.
The Top 24 bowlers will play two more eight-game match play rounds on Friday, with the top four advancing to Sunday’s stepladder finals, which air live on ESPN at 9:30 a.m. PT and feature a $50,000 top prize.