Ron Mohr can point to a springboard for his dominance on last year’s PBA Senior Tour.
That would be the Senior U.S. Open, when Mohr beat Hall of Famer and top qualifier Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the championship match, 246-189, to win his first major professional bowling title.
Mohr rode the momentum to Senior Player of the Year honors after finishing out of the top four only once in 2011. The 56-year-old from Eagle River, Alaska, hopes to recapture that magic in the Etonic PBA Senior U.S. Open, which begins today at Suncoast Bowling Center.
“It was huge in setting me up for the last few tournaments and having a chance to be Player of the Year,” Mohr said of last year’s win at the Suncoast.
More than 200 players are set to compete in the event, the Senior Tour’s first major. Four players will make it through 51 games of qualifying and match play to reach Friday’s stepladder finals.
“I feel really good. I feel like my physical game is in good shape and my mental game is in good shape,” Mohr said. “However, this field is probably the strongest I’ve bowled against in the four or five years that I’ve been out here.”
Mohr was a source of inspiration for fans during his historic 2011 campaign. His wife, Linda, died at 50 years old in January 2011 as the result of complications from a 2010 surgery.
“I swear I had a guardian angel with me, and I really think that carried me through,” Mohr said. “While this is the time of my life, this was no longer the most important thing. This wasn’t life or death anymore. This was now a retreat; it was therapy for me to come out.
“My mental approach was a little bit different. I just wanted to come out and enjoy the time out here, because the last few months had been so tough. I think that mindset really enabled me to be more relaxed in clutch situations.”
Mohr, a part-owner of local business K&K Bowling Services, bought a home in North Las Vegas in September.
“I hope to move down before the snow in Alaska, so I’ll be a permanent resident of Nevada hopefully by the end of the year,” he said. “I’m excited about that. I love this town. There are lots of things to do and lots of good people.”
Heading into the event, Williams has a two-point lead in the Senior Player of the Year race over Bob Learn Jr.
PBA Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli will make his Senior U.S. Open debut.
The event also is notable because PBA Hall of Famer Dave Soutar plans to retire after the season. Soutar won the inaugural Senior U.S. Open in Las Vegas in 2003.
“It’s not emotional yet,” said Soutar, 72. “Probably near the end, probably the last tournament will be a little emotional, when I know that’s it.”
Squads will play six qualifying games each at 7 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. today at the Suncoast. Admission is free.
Contact reporter Tristan Aird at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @tristanaird.