Teenagers: They can be extremely powerful and frightening. This weekend at the U.S. Open on the PBA Tour, the bowling community enjoyed a thrilling display from one such teen. Anthony Neuer, an 18-year-old, encountered the enemy of all bowlers—the much reviled 7-10 split!—in the seventh frame of his semifinal match and defeated it with no problem.
Nerds may be interested to know that an old ESPN The Magazine study of nationally televised PBA events between 2005 and 2010 found the so-called “bed posts” or “goal posts” shot to be the most difficult spare in bowling, with a conversion rate of zero in that period. Alternatively, we can forgo analytics and simply use our eyes to see that it is very difficult to hit one pin so that it rebounds to knock the other one. Neuer is the first bowler to conquer this particular demon in a televised PBA Tour event since 1991, when Jess Stayrook did it at that year’s Tucson Open on ESPN. Stayrook’s accomplishment, sadly, got a less cool call than Neuer’s, delivered by Fox Sports’ Rob Stone: “He did it! He got the 7-10, Randy! He did it! [woohooing noises] My goodness, the Ginger Assassin just dropped a 7-10! You bet, kid! You bet! Give me some oxygen and water!” Like Stayrook in 1991, though, Neuer would not end up winning this tournament. He finished third.
Who is this teen in the terrifically garish shirt? What is his deal? Neuer has the genes of a bowling champion; his father, Andy, has one PBA Tour title to his name. Young Anthony, having cleaned up in all the junior events, made the jump to the proper PBA Tour when he was 17. He finished 57th in his first U.S. Open last year, so at this rate, just mathematically, he will win this tournament big next year. As of last winter, he was balancing his bowling career with life as a college student, pursuing a “focus on environmental studies with a minor in biology, hoping to someday become a marine biologist.” Great dream!
But wait! A 2015 Slate study of spare frames in all PBA tournaments, not just the nationally televised ones, found that 7-10 may be less difficult than the 4-6-7-9-10 and 4-6-7 splits. There’s your next assignment, Anthony.