Wayne Garber's delivery is far from picturesque. It starts with an upright, one-step approach, his left leg stiffens as he goes into a flamingo pose, tilting only his upper body, a hesitation . . . and then the robotic release.
Awkward, but effective. With it, Garber rolled himself into third place after 13 games in the first round of the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship at Babylon Lanes Thursday.
The unusual throwing motion wasn't coached, nor was it a quirk-that-worked style he developed, but the product a nasty spill down a flight of stairs three years ago. The result was torn patellas in each knee and a loss of flexibility.
"I spent three months on my back and another three in strength rehab," said Garber, whose 3,100 pinfall had him 12 behind PBA legend Walter Ray Williams Jr. (with competition continuing late last night). "It was a year before I felt OK again."
Maybe that bit of bad luck was a boon. He's dropped 60 pounds and upped his average 13 points since the injury. And perhaps pessimism, for him, is a positive.
"I've struggled this year," said Garber, 42, who's 56th in the 2009-10 points standings. "I usually have trouble in lanes with inside patterns like this and, to be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this week. On this pattern, throwing weaker equipment, I wasn't too confident."
The last time he was this uncertain, he took second - his best finish - in the Red, White & Blue Open in December.
The Californian carried a lead for most of the round but was passed by Williams Jr. late. He'll bowl Friday in the match-play round which whittles the pack of 32 down to five for Sunday's final.
For Mike Fagan, there's something to the home cooking, home crowd and home-lane advantage. The Patchogue native was in fourth after 13 games with a 3,073.
"The plastic balls are an advantage because there's fewer guys who throw it well," said Fagan, whose parents and friends were in attendance.
Notes & quotes: Mark Roth, the Brooklyn native for whom the tournament was named, made the trip from Oswego. "I'm the only guy still alive that has an event named after him," said Roth, 58, who's third all-time with 34 PBA titles but suffered a severe stroke last May . . . Australian Jason Belmonte (2nd) rolled 300s in Games 1 and 13 . . . Levittown's Brian Ziesig (6th) and Lindenhurst's Alex Cavagnaro (16th) made the cut. Joseph Costanzo (Plainview) was 59th.