Every year a host of young bowlers try their hand on the national pro bowlers' tour. Most find the going tough.
Once in a while, though, a rookie with unusual credentials and a special flare appears. One has this year, and he made his presence felt Wednesday at Gable House Bowl in Torrance.
Rick Steelsmith, 23, of Wichita, Kan., rolled games of 227, 279, 238, 217, 246 and 255 to take the first-round lead in the Pro Bowling Assn. AC-Delco tournament.
The 1987 national collegiate champion from Wichita State led his traveling roommate, Bob Handley of Pompano Beach, Fla., by 26 pins.
Others close to Steelsmith's 1,462 total included favorites Walter Ray Williams, 5th at 1,422, and Pete Weber, 13th at 1,393. Marshall Holman and Pete McCordic were back in the pack of the 144-man field at 1,270 and 1,212, respectively.
Steelsmith turned pro last October after a sensational year in amateur bowling.
First, he pulled the surprise of 1987 by beating an open field including top professionals in the American Bowling Congress' masters division.
Steelsmith then won two gold medals, a silver, two bronze and set three records at Helsinki in the World FIQ Championships. His Finland conquests included the only 300 game ever in that international competition.
Steelsmith joined the tour two tournaments ago and won money inboth--at Alameda, Calif., and Las Vegas.
A perfect game by Mark Williams of Beaumont, Tex., launched Wednesday's opening round. His 1,390 score is 15th among the leaders.