It’s the time of year again to spring into action with the 19th edition of the Potlicker Cup. This is a competitive pairs tournament open to all men and women who are members of a national bowls organization. There are a maximum of six 14 end games over a Saturday and Sunday, June 9th & 10th. Click here for entry forms.
In the 2017 National Championships, the Central Division acquitted itself admirably. The men’s pairs team of Jim Grzybowski and Leif Andresen finished in a four way tie for first place before losing by one shot in a playoff to Steve Smith and Bill Brault, the eventual champions. Rob Behncke, the men’s singles entry, started off great with three wins out of the first four games. This included giving the 2017 champion Charlie Herbert his only loss of the tournament. Unfortunately Rob couldn’t maintain his momentum and finished up in the middle of the pack.
The women’s pairs team of Anna Witt and Rebecca Nguyen finished in second place with a strong performance. Rosa Baer the singles entrant came in third in her event. Rosa was handicapped by not having a nearby home green on which to practice in the weeks leading up to the championships along with becoming ill early in the week. All of these ladies are former national champions.
The Central Division probably has the shortest playing season of any of the US divisions, with maybe five or six months of good bowling weather. Yet it was, and still is, the home of some great bowlers who have excelled nationally and internationally over the years. Playing against other strong bowlers as well as with having to adjust to constantly changing conditions in weather and green speed have been a factor in producing highly competitive bowlers.
Two guys who recently defected from the Central Division to spend their “golden” years in the south (aka whimps) proudly wore their Central Division green at the US Open. Steve Nelson and John Kirkwood defeated some extremely strong teams to go undefeated on day one. They lost their first game on day two and went into the the second flight. Then they made it all the way to the finals where they came in second place. Way to go green guys! Great job!
Rosa Baer and Rob Behncke Are The 2017 Champions
This year the Central Division welcomed Rosa and Tony Baer. Both are new to the division but are well known nationally, being long time members of the Southwest Division. Both Rosa and Tony are former national champions and both turned in great performances.
In the women’s competition, Rosa Baer was able to overcome a strong challenge from Pat Wimmer in the final game. Rosa was down 20 to 17 in game two of a best two out of three playoff. She then put her four bowls close to the jack and Pat was unable to get the shot with her final bowl. Pat finished in second place. Congratulations Rosa.
On the men’s side, Rob Behncke was undefeated going into the final game of the round robin when he ran into a determined Mark Mathwig. Mark made shot after critical shot and handed Rob his only loss. This placed Rob in a tie with Tony Baer whose only loss was to Rob in an earlier game. Both Rob and Tony played superb bowls in the playoff game, but Rob was able to counter a number of great shots by Tony and he eked out a narrow victory. The spectators who remained to watch the playoff were treated to a very entertaining and exciting match. The loss to Rob dropped Tony into second place. Bob Schneider came in third.
Women: Anna Witt and Rebecca Nguyen prevailed in a two out of three match against Min Waite and Pat Wimmer. After losing game one, Anna and Rebecca took the last two games to qualify for Nationals.
Men: Two teams, Bob Schneider / Rob Behncke and Jim Grzybowski / Leif Andresen were undefeated and were prepared to play the best two out of three games for the championship. Grzybowski and Andresen won game one. Then, after some confusion about the way to proceed in the tournament, the rest of the games were delayed. After a great deal of discussion and resolution of schedules, the remaining games were finally played. Schneider and Behncke won game two handily. Game three was another story, with the lead going back and forth throughout. Two down on the last end, Grzybowski and Andresen managed to tie up the game. On the extra end, Jim Grzybowski picked out a Rob Behncke bowl which was an inch or two directly in front of the jack and his team had the shot. This managed to stand up and Jim Grzybowski and Leif Andresen advanced to the National Championships.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat… Once again, the prolific pair of Bob Schneider and Rob Behncke won the Potlicker Cup.
This time they smoked the competition unlike previous years when they had stiffer competition and the results were much closer. Making this year’s outcome different was the second place finish of Carl Landgren and Potlicker rookie Min Waite. Carl is a several time winner along with his former assistant, some guy named Steve Nelson, but Min is a newcomer to competitive events. Good going guys & Min! Finishing in third place were Max Cavender and Joe Zinna.
Time is running out to get your entries in for one of the main competitive tournaments of the year. Here is the entry form. If you are certain you will make it, e-mail the tournament director at email@example.com and he will get you into the draw.
We would like to take this opportunity to refute the scurrilous fake news being promulgated by the unreliable Milwaukee Lawn Bowls club website. This vicious attack on Potlicker is unwarranted. Potlicker is one of the Icelandic 12 yule lads. His only offense is to knock on your door and, while everyone goes to answer it, he runs to the kitchen and licks out all the pots. He actually performs a great public service by eliminating labor for overworked dishwashers. After all, not all of us have a trusty canine companion to do this for us. You can expect to hear him knock on your door next December 16. Yes, that’s Potlicker Day.
Central’s Bid For Repeat Comes Up Just Short
Last years pairs champs Central’s Bob Schneider and Rob Behncke made a great run in the 2016 Championships. After the round robin they were tied for first with the team of Steve Smith and Bill Brault from the Southwest, each team having only one loss. Steve and Bill had also won previous national championships and were last seen by this reporter in the US Open where they finished second, losing in a very competitive final game to Scotland’s former world champions Alex Marshall and Paul Foster.
After falling behind early in the playoff game, Schneider and Behncke fought their way back but ran out of ends and lost in a close finish to wind up in second place. Good going guys. Jim Gryzbowski, Rebecca Nguyen, and Pat Wimmer also represented the Central Division.
A field which included five current or former National Champions toed the mat for the Otto Hess tournament. (Otto always claimed everyone spelled his first name backwards, so if I have done the same, sorry ottO). After slogging through a rain drenched morning, the skies cleared and the sun shined on a pair of National Championship qualifiers, Rob Behncke and Jim Grzybowski. They finished in first, beating out veteran Team USA players Bob Schneider and Joe Zinna who finished second. Mark Mathwig, Dat Ngyuen, and Dat’s afternoon substitute Max Cavender came in third. Even with the soaking rain, the greens held their speed nicely. This is a tribute to all the hard work of head greenskeeper Bob Schneider and his crew of assistants.
Unfortunately, one team had to be disqualified for violations of the uniform rules. As you can see, their shirts clearly do not match. Bubbles, the player on the left claims to be Canadian, but he still hasn’t said he’s sorry, so this nationality is highly doubtful, (and there have been rumors that he is overly fixated with kitties). The player on the right says he is a native of the planet earth, but this is also questionable. After all, he admitted that his first name is Weird. The investigation is still in progress. Be on the lookout for these miscreants. They might try to enter a tournament near you.