By Matt Cannizzaro and Sam Neves
LAS VEGAS - Tyler Vitelli of Annandale, New Jersey, and Darren Flynn of Hackettstown, New Jersey, are having an eventful week in Las Vegas.
The duo kicked off the trip by competing in the 2021 Bowlers Journal Championships presented by the United States Bowling Congress, where they found success and gained momentum that carried over to their time at the 2021 USBC Open Championships.
The confidence they earned while securing the Open Doubles lead at the Bowlers Journal Championships early in the week helped them also find the top of the Regular Doubles standings across town at the Open Championships.
The Bowlers Journal event, being held at The Orleans Bowling Center, features the same oil pattern being used for doubles and singles at the Open Championships, so many bowlers are able to use it as a warm-up and a chance to develop a game plan.
Team competition this year at the Open Championships is taking place at the South Point Bowling Plaza, and all doubles/singles squads are being contested at the South Point Bowling Center. It is the first time the 117 editions of the event that it has been split across two venues
Another member of their seven-team group, Hackettstown's Wayne Fleming, found the spotlight during singles at the Bowling Center, tossing fourth perfect game of the young 2021 Open Championships.
Vitelli, 28, and Flynn, 32, set the Open Doubles bar at The Orleans with 1,405 total and made a run at matching that number Friday morning at South Point, before settling into the lead with a 1,340 performance.
Flynn, making his second Open Championships appearance, bowled games of 186, 260 and 233 for a 679 series, and Vitelli, competing in the event for the sixth time, followed closely with games of 214, 244 and 203 for 661. Douglas Heimos of St. Louis and Dakoda Phelps of Festus, Missouri, previously held the lead with 1,329.
"It's been a crazy couple of days" said Vitelli, who also left the Bowlers Journal Championships with the lead in Open Singles (734). "I feel that competing in the Bowlers Journal event definitely helped us prepare for the conditions we faced today."
Though the doubles score, and Vitelli's singles number, were passed at the Bowlers Journal, they'll still get to return home and enjoy the experience of scoreboard watching and waiting to see if their doubles effort at South Point was enough to win their first Eagles.
The Open Doubles lead at the Bowlers Journal Championships now belongs to local standout Matthew Anderson and reigning Professional Bowlers Association Southwest Region Player of the Year AJ Chapman, who posted a 1,453 total Thursday.
Anderson's performance included the first 300 at the 2021 Bowlers Journal Championships and also helped him into the lead in Open Singles with 738. Anderson, the brother of 2018 USBC Masters champion Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan, rolled a perfect game at the Open Championships in 2014.
Following the doubles excitement Friday, Fleming etched his name in the tournament record books with a perfect start. The 46-year-old right-hander started the event with 19 consecutive strikes and finished with games of 300, 258 and 169 for a 727 series, which is just outside the top five in Regular Singles.
Jeffrey Sisson of Marion, Ohio, who also rolled a 300 game this year at the South Point Bowling Center, leads with 736. All four 300s have come during singles.
Since 2013, the Open Championships has featured two oil patterns and fresh oil for every squad, with the Bowlers Journal Championships utilizing the doubles/singles oil pattern, and team practice sessions being available for bowlers to get a look at the team lane condition.
The 2021 Open Championships kicked off its 79-day run May 1 and will run daily until July 18.
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