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Torrance Bowling Tournament : Bohn Is Still the Leader After 4 Rounds

Times Staff Writer

Mark Roth was cranking away as usual Thursday on the lanes at Gable House Bowl in Torrance.

The “cranker shot” that the New Jersey Hall of Famer introduced 17 years ago was working well enough to stay reasonably close to the leaders after 4 rounds (26 games) of the AC/Delco Pro Bowlers Assn. tournament.

In the lead was Parker Bohn III, the New Jersey lefty.

Bohn will have Roth, who is in 19th place, and 22 other semifinalists chasing him into 16 more games of match play today and tonight to decide 5 finalists for Saturday’s title rolloff.

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The original 160-man field was reduced to 24 earlier Thursday.

Three Southern Californians made the cut--Randy Pedersen of Santa Maria (2nd), Earl Ziemann of Garden Grove (8th) and Tom Underwood of Long Beach (11th).

It is estimated that more than 70% of the bowlers on the tour now crank the ball in various forms because of its proven strike proficiency.

On the shot, a bowler basically locates his hand underneath the ball on the arm swing. At the release, he cranks or turns the hand, causing the ball to spin on its way to land on the lane. The rotating action on the ball continues as it slides along the slick oiled portion of the alley until it reaches a dry area, where it hooks into the pins with a blast.

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“At one time, the classic bowling style featuring a smooth stroke prevailed,” according to Mike Sands, PBA official. “But harder finishes came along to replace lacquer and other softer lane dressings because of economical and safety reasons. Taking note of Roth’s successes, other bowlers have taken to cranking the ball.

The 5-foot 11-inch, 180-pound Roth, 37, is the all-time PBA money champion ($1,360,056). His 8 titles in 1978 set a single-year record. He has 33 titles in all, second only to the 41 of retired Earl Anthony.

Roth’s footwork is puzzling since bowlers by and large use the same number of steps on each shot. Ask Roth how many steps he took on his last shot and his answer is liable to be, “I’m not sure.”

Fellow pro Mark Baker of Garden Grove said Roth’s approach starts with little hesitation. “He just starts up, shuffling toward the line, taking as many as 5 to 8 steps before letting go of the ball.”

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