Walter Ray Williams Jr.

Walter Ray Williams Jr. (born October 6, 1959) is an American professional bowler and competitive horseshoes pitcher. He currently holds the record for all-time standard PBA Tour career titles (47) and total PBA earnings (over $4.9 million through 2019).[1] He is a seven-time PBA Player of the Year, and won at least one PBA Tour title in 17 consecutive seasons (1993 through 2009-10); both of these feats are also PBA records.[2] He starred in the ten-pin bowling sports documentary A League of Ordinary Gentlemen. As of June 26, 2022, Williams is also the all-time titles leader on the PBA50 Tour, with 16. He is a three-time PBA50 Player of the Year and has won three majors on that Tour. He has rolled 110 career perfect 300 games in PBA competition through 2019.[3]

Walter Ray Williams Jr.
Williams in 2016
Personal information
Born (1959-10-06) October 6, 1959 (age 63)
San Jose, California
Years active1970-present
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
CountryUnited States
SportTen-pin bowling, Horseshoes
LeaguePBA, NHPA World Tournament
Turned pro1970 (horseshoes)
1980 (bowling)
Achievements and titles
National finals47 PBA Tour (8 majors)
16 PBA50 Tour (3 majors)
7x PBA Player of the Year (1986, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2010)
3x PBA50 Player of the Year (2012, 2013, 2019)
9 World Horseshoes titles

On December 18, 2016, Williams became the first player in history to reach 100 total PBA titles (combined PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, PBA50 Tour, PBA50 Regional Tour).[4] Only Pete Weber has since matched this feat. Williams' total is now 123 through August 5, 2022 (according to the PBA Tour Web site) after winning at Beverly Lanes in Arlington Heights, Illinois. [5][6][7][8][9] Williams is also a nine-time world champion[10] in the game of horseshoes (three junior titles and six men's titles).[11]

Wiliiams has had multiple sponsorships over his professional career, and is currently a member of the Brunswick pro staff.[12]

Bowling careerEdit

PBA TourEdit

Williams is a seven-time PBA Player of the Year (1986, '93, '96, '97, '98, 2003, 2010) which is tied with Jason Belmonte and one more than Earl Anthony for the most Player of the Year awards. He has won a record eight Bowling Writers Bowler of the Year awards and is also the all-time leading money winner on the PBA Tour.[1] He has the most PBA money titles (seven). He was the first bowler in history to surpass $2 million in career earnings, achieving this in 1997. With his win in the 2003 U.S. Open, he also became the first $3 million career winner, while also becoming the first $4 million career winner in 2008. Williams also set a record for the highest monetary winnings in a single season, with $419,700 during the 2002–03 PBA season.[13] This record would be broken in the 2021 season by Kyle Troup.[14]

On September 24, 2006, Williams eclipsed Earl Anthony's then-recognized career record of 41 PBA regular tour titles with his 42nd win at the Dydo Japan Cup over Pete Weber in a 289–236 single game pinfall.[15] [Note: Anthony's title count was amended to 43 in 2008, when the PBA chose to include ABC Masters titles earned by a PBA member as PBA Tour titles. By that time, Williams had accumulated 44 titles to maintain a lead over Anthony.] Williams has been known as "Deadeye" in PBA fan circles,[3] but he actually first got the nickname in horseshoes, when he threw 45 ringers out of a possible 50 in a junior tournament when he was 10 years old.[16] He is known for several PBA achievements:

  • Record highest season spare percentage (88.16%, 655/743; 2004–05) and single-pin conversion percentage (100%, 475/475; 2005–06)
  • Second-best strike (68.21) percentage and match play average (235.23).[13][3]
  • Record number of career television appearances (182 through 2012), most television appearances in a season (15 in 1993), most consecutive television appearances 5 (2x; 2000, 2001), and most consecutive seasons making at least one television appearance (26)[17]
  • Most final match appearances (92, through the 2009-10 season)
  • Most games bowled in one season (1300 in 1993)
  • Second-highest pinfall in a nine-game series (2,367 in Tucson, AZ, 2004; broken by Eugene McCune's 2,468 pins in 2010)
  • Tied for most 300 games in one tournament (4; Mechanicsburg, PA, 1993)[13]
  • Eight-time winner of the George Young High Average Award and Harry Smith Points Leader Award (most all-time for each award)[3]
  • The only PBA player to convert the 4-6-7-10 split (also known as the "Big Four" or the "Double Pinochle") on television
  • Oldest bowler (50) to be named PBA Player of the Year (2009-10 season)
  • Bowled 299s on TV during his professional and senior career. One during the 1993 Leisure Long Island Open at AMF Sayville Lanes, a 60 lane bowling center in Sayville, NY on March 27, 1993. On the senior tour, he bowled 299 in 2011.
  • First player to reach 100 total PBA titles (47 PBA Tour, 32 PBA Regional Tour, 10 PBA50 Tour, 11 PBA50 Regional Tour).
  • Only player in history to win the USBC Masters and USBC Senior Masters twice each.
  • Bowled a two-handed 300 game at the 2019 River City Extreme Open.

In the 2007–08 season, at age 48, Williams established the second-highest average in PBA history for a single season — 228.34. Only Norm Duke's 2006–07 mark of 228.47 was higher at the time,[18][19] though that has since been broken by Jason Belmonte's 228.81 in the 2012–13 season. Through the 2019 PBA50 season, he has bowled 110 career 300 games in PBA competition, second only to the 114 perfect games tallied by Parker Bohn III.[3]

Upon winning the 2009 Motor City Open championship, Williams extended his record of winning at least one PBA Tour title per season to 17 consecutive seasons, two years more than Earl Anthony's 1970–84 run.[20] Williams' streak ended when he failed to win a title in the 2010-11 season.

FIQ WTBA World ChampionshipsEdit

In August 2008 Williams joined Team USA to participate in that year's FIQ World Men's Championships in Thailand. For the first time professionals were allowed to compete in this truly international event with over 330 participants from 56 countries. Williams was the most successful bowler in the championships, winning four medals: Gold in Masters, Gold in Singles, Gold in Team and a Bronze medal in Trios.[21][22][23]

PBA Tour retirementEdit

On March 17, 2021, Williams announced his retirement from the national PBA Tour after being eliminated from the Round of 8 in the final event of World Series of Bowling XII. He stated he will continue to bowl in PBA50 Tour and PBA Regional Tour events.[24]

PBA50 TourEdit

After turning 50, Williams announced that he would participate in the 2010 PBA Senior Tour (renamed the PBA50 Tour in 2013), but in limited events due to Team USA and other obligations.[25]

Williams made his PBA Senior Tour debut on May 3, 2010, at the Miller High Life Senior Classic in Mooresville, NC. To the surprise of no one, he won the tournament three days later.[26] On June 18, 2010, Williams had a chance to become just the second bowler to win the USBC Masters and USBC Senior Masters in a career (joining Dave Soutar), and the first to win both in the same year. Williams made the three-game final, but he was denied the title when he fell, 705-628, to fellow PBA Hall of Famer Wayne Webb.[27] Williams did bowl enough on the Senior Tour to earn 2010 PBA Senior Rookie of the Year honors.[28]

In the 2011 PBA Senior season, Williams again had a chance to match Soutar as the only bowlers to win both the USBC Masters and Senior USBC Masters. But he again came in second, this time falling to Dale Traber in the finals, 707-695.[29]

Williams won two Senior titles in 2012 and earned his first Senior PBA Player of the Year award.[30]

Williams won three PBA50 titles in 2013 and earned his second PBA50 Player of the Year award.

Williams won the 2014 USBC Senior Masters to become only the second bowler to win both the USBC Masters and USBC Senior Masters (following Dave Soutar). On June 11, 2017, Williams won his second USBC Senior Masters, becoming the only player in history to win the USBC Masters and USBC Senior Masters twice each.[31]

At age 59, Williams opened the 2019 PBA50 season with three consecutive victories, including the PBA50 National Championship, giving him three majors among his 14 PBA50 Tour titles.[7] The wins tied him with John Handegard for the most PBA50 Tour titles of all-time. With a third place finish in the second-to-last event of the 2019 PBA50 Tour season, Williams clinched his third career PBA50 Player of the Year award.[32]

After the 2020 PBA50 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams won the opening event of the 2021 PBA50 Tour season on April 13. With a 708–655 victory over Michael Haugen Jr. in the three-game final at the PBA50 Lightning Strikes Open, Williams held the most PBA50 Tour titles of all time, with 15.[33] Williams extended the record to 16 by winning the 2022 PBA50 Odessa Open on June 26.

Popularity and longevityEdit

Williams's longevity is evidenced by the fact that more than one-third of his 47 titles (17) and 6 of his 8 majors were earned after he reached age 40. Williams' most recent PBA Tour title at the 2010 USBC Masters came after he reached age 50. In fact, Williams swept every major PBA statistical category in the 2009-10 season, leading the tour in earnings ($152,670), average (222.89), match play appearances (15), and overall competition points.[26] (See PBA Bowling Tour: 2009-10 season.)

On his longevity and future plans, Williams said in 2009:

"As long as I feel good and stay competitive, I’ll keep on bowling. I don’t want to be out here if I’m not competitive; I’d be too frustrated. When I can’t compete, when it isn’t fun, I’ll retire. I have no issue with that. But I feel like I’m still doing pretty well."[20]

Williams was named "Male Bowler of the Decade" (2000–2009) in the Winter, 2010 issue of U.S. Bowler—an incredible accomplishment considering he started the decade at age 40.[34] He won his unprecedented seventh PBA Player of the Year award in 2010, becoming the oldest player in history (50) to earn that honor.[35]

He is a member of the USBC and PBA Halls of Fame,[36][37] a member of the World Horseshoe Pitching Hall of Fame,[3] and was a two-time past president of the Professional Bowlers Association.[3]

In the 2008–09 season, the PBA's 50th, the PBA commissioned a panel of bowling experts to recognize the "50 Greatest Players of the Last 50 Years."[38] Williams finished second on the list, behind only Earl Anthony. On an ESPN telecast January 25, 2009, Nelson Burton Jr. noted that the voting was close, but Anthony reached the #1 spot primarily for having more major titles than Williams (10 to 7 at the time). Williams was gracious in accepting second-place honors:

"I feel Earl's record is better than mine because it was more condensed. Earl bowled 14 years and 400 or so events. I've bowled well over 600 by now, maybe 700. I feel very pleased to be No. 2."[39]

On December 10, 2016, Williams made it to the final match of the PBA Shark Championship in Reno, NV. A victory would have made Williams the oldest player (57 years, 65 days) to ever win a regular PBA Tour event, but he was defeated in the finals by Canadian François Lavoie. John Handegard continues to hold the distinction as oldest PBA Tour champion at 57 years, 55 days.[40]

In his later career, Williams has experimented with a two-handed "shovel style" delivery, and began using it in some PBA50 tournaments. At the River City Extreme Open in July, 2019, he shot a 300 game in qualifying using the two-handed approach.[41]

Through 2019, Williams had bowled in over 1,000 PBA tournaments.[42] He has continued bowling at a high level despite reaching age 60 in 2019. From 2016 to 2019, Williams bowled in at least 34 PBA events every year (more than 40 events from 2017 to 2019), and cashed over $110,000 in three of the four years.[42]


Williams has also won six Men's World Horseshoe Pitching titles. He was invited to pitch horseshoes at the White House with President George H. W. Bush in 1989.[43] He finished second in the 2005 World Horseshoe Pitching Championships after switching from right handed to left handed.


Williams graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a minor in mathematics. He has stated that if he wasn't a successful bowler, "I would have gone to work for NASA."[44]

He was previously married to Paige Pennington. The couple lived in Oxford, FL, and adopted a daughter, Rebecca, in 2007.[2] Williams and Pennington divorced in 2017. He is currently married to Fancy Allen. The couple has residency in Oxford. In addition to being a champion in both bowling and horseshoes, Williams plays golf and at one time had a 1 handicap.

Williams' career PBA Tour titlesEdit

Among Williams' 47 career PBA Tour titles are eight majors (in bold type below). He is a three-time winner of the PBA World Championship, and has also won two U.S. Open crowns, two ABC/USBC Masters titles, and a Touring Players Championship. He was a Tournament of Champions title short of completing a career "super grand slam."

He has also won 16 PBA50 Tour titles, making him the all-time PBA50 titles leader and one of only five bowlers (along with Pete Weber, Tom Baker, Amleto Monacelli and Parker Bohn III) to win at least 10 titles on both PBA national tours. Williams is also the only player in history to earn at least 60 combined titles between the PBA and PBA50 Tours.

Standard PBA Tour TitlesEdit

  1. 1986 True Value Open, Peoria, Ill.
  2. 1986 Fair Lanes Open, Baltimore, Md.
  3. 1986 Hammer Open, Edmond, Okla.
  4. 1987 Miller Lite Classic, Miami, Fla.
  5. 1987 Hammer Open, Edmond, Okla.
  6. 1991 Oronamin C Japan Cup, Tokyo, Japan
  7. 1993 Flagship City Open, Erie, Pa.
  8. 1993 Columbia 300 Open, San Antonio, Texas
  9. 1993 Northwest Classic, Kennewick, Wash.
  10. 1993 Oregon Open, Portland, Ore.
  11. 1993 Tucson Open, Tucson, Ariz.
  12. 1993 Greater Grand Rapids Open, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  13. 1993 Paula Carter's Homestead Classic, Homestead, Fla.
  14. 1994 Showboat Invitational, Las Vegas, Nev.
  15. 1994 Touring Players Championship, Indianapolis, Ind.
  16. 1995 Rochester Open, Rochester, N.Y.
  17. 1996 Track Synergy Open, Kennewick, Wash.
  18. 1996 Showboat Invitational, Las Vegas, Nev.
  19. 1996 Brunswick Johnny Petraglia Open, North Brunswick, N.J.
  20. 1996 Rochester Open, Rochester, N.Y.
  21. 1996 Greater Harrisburg Open, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
  22. 1997 Columbia 300 Open, Austin, Texas
  23. 1997 Brunswick Johnny Petraglia Open, North Brunswick, N.J.
  24. 1997 St. Clair Classic, Fairview Heights, Ill.
  25. 1998 Storm Flagship Open, Erie, Pa.
  26. 1998 BPAA U.S. Open, Milford, Conn.
  27. 1998 Brunswick Long Island Open, Coram, N.Y.
  28. 1998 Bay City Classic, Bay City, Mich.
  29. 1998 National Finance Challenge, Indianapolis, Ind.
  30. 1999 Tucson Open, Tucson, Ariz.
  31. 2000 Track Canandaigua Open, Canandaigua, N.Y.
  32. 2000 Brunswick Johnny Petraglia Open, North Brunswick, N.J.
  33. 2001–02 PBA National Championship, Toledo, Ohio
  34. 2001–02 Greater Cincinnati Classic, Erlanger, Ky.
  35. 2002–03 Greater Detroit Open, Taylor, Mich.
  36. 2002–03 U.S. Open, Fountain Valley, Calif.
  37. 2002–03 PBA World Championship, Taylor, Mich.
  38. 2003–04 Earl Anthony Classic Presented by Storm, Tacoma, Wash.
  39. 2003–04 ABC Masters, Reno, Nev.
  40. 2004–05 Uniroyal Tire Classic, Wickliffe, Ohio
  41. 2005–06 Denny's PBA World Championship, Indianapolis, Ind.
  42. 2006–07 Dydo Japan Cup, Tokyo, Japan
  43. 2007–08 Motor City Classic, Taylor, Mich.
  44. 2007–08 Great Lakes Classic, Wyoming, Mich.
  45. 2008–09 Lake County Indiana Golden Anniversary Championship, Hammond, Ind.
  46. 2009-10 Motor City Open, Allen Park, Mich.
  47. 2009-10 USBC Masters, Reno, Nev.

PBA50 Tour TitlesEdit

  1. 2010 Miller High Life Senior Classic, Mooresville, NC.
  2. 2011 PBA Senior Mark Roth Allentown Open, Allentown, PA.
  3. 2012 PBA Senior Don Carter Memorial, Winter Garden, FL.
  4. 2012 PBA Senior Northern California Classic, Brentwood, CA.
  5. 2013 PBA50 Sun Bowl in The Villages, The Villages, FL.
  6. 2013 PBA50 Northern California Classic, Brentwood, CA.
  7. 2013 PBA50 South Shore Open, Hammond, IN.
  8. 2014 USBC Senior Masters, Las Vegas, NV.
  9. 2014 PBA50 Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open, Welch, MN.
  10. 2016 PBA50 Pasco County Florida Open, New Port Richey, FL.
  11. 2017 USBC Senior Masters, Las Vegas, NV.
  12. 2019 Johnny Petraglia BVL Open, Clearwater, FL.
  13. 2019 PBA50 National Championship, The Villages, FL.
  14. 2019 PBA50 Mooresville Open, Mooresville, NC.
  15. 2021 PBA50 Lightning Strikes Open, Fort Myers, FL.
  16. 2022 PBA50 Odessa Open, Odessa, Texas.


  1. ^ a b Westside News - Walter Ray Williams Jr. passes Earl Anthony with 42nd PBA title. 2006-09-27. Accessed 2007-08-22.
  2. ^ a b "Walter Ray Williams - Next Level Bowling Bio". Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Profile
  4. ^ Vint, Bill (December 18, 2016). "Walter Ray Williams Jr. First to Reach 100 PBA Titles with Win in PBA/PBA50/PBA60 Baker Trios Event". Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Vint, Bill (April 17, 2018). "HOFer Walter Ray Williams Jr. Among 16 Finalists in Port Property Management PBA Maine Shootout". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Vint, Bill (April 26, 2019). "PBA Spare Shots: Every Tournament Means a New PBA Record for Walter Ray Williams Jr". Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Schneider, Jerry (April 26, 2019). "Walter Ray Williams Jr. Takes PBA50 National Championship Title to Start Season with Back-to-Back Wins". Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  8. ^ Schneider, Jerry (December 19, 2019). "Walter Ray Williams Jr. Takes PBA 2019: The Year's Top Stories". Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  10. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2011-12-23.
  11. ^ "How to Pitch Horseshoes." "About the Actor" bio at
  12. ^ "Brunswick Pros". Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c - Records 2003-10-03. Accessed 2007-10-13.
  14. ^ "KYLE TROUP WINS KIA PBA PLAYOFFS FOR EIGHTH CAREER TITLE". 16 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  15. ^ From News
  16. ^ "The Jordan of ... Bowling". Article in ESPN the Magazine on MArch 26, 2008. [1]
  17. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Chameleon Finals Sunday on ESPN Takes on International Flavor and Marks the Return of Walter Ray Williams Jr. to TV." on December 24, 2012. [2]
  18. ^ All About Bowling
  19. ^ Stats, Average at
  20. ^ a b News - [3]"Williams Wins PBA Motor City Open for Record 46th Career Title." November 1, 2009.
  21. ^ - Williams Jr. Wins Gold 2008-08-29. Accessed 2008-10-04.
  22. ^ "Walter Ray Williams' worldly feat is the stuff of legends By Matt Fiorito".
  23. ^ "WTBA champions". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18.
  24. ^ Goodger, Jef (March 17, 2021). "PETE WEBER, WALTER RAY WILLIAMS JR. RETIRE FROM PBA TOUR COMPETITION". Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  25. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Williams Record Seventh PBA Player of the Year Honor 'Unimaginable.'" Article at on April 5, 2010.
  26. ^ a b Vint, Bill. "Walter Ray Williams Jr. Concludes Remarkable 2009-10 with Statistical Sweep." Article at on May 7, 2010. [4]
  27. ^ Vint, Bill. "Webb Tops Williams to Win USBC Senior Masters for Third Career Senior Tour Major." Article at on June 18, 2010.
  28. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Walter Ray Williams Jr. Adds 2010 PBA Senior Rookie of the Year to Long List of Honors." Article at on September 21, 2010. [5]
  29. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Dale Traber Wins Second Career USBC Senior Masters Title." Article at on August 5, 2011. [6]
  30. ^ Schneider, Jerry. "Walter Ray Wins PBA Senior Don Carter Memorial for Third Career Senior Tour Title." Article at on May 2, 2012. [7]
  31. ^ Schneider, Jerry (June 11, 2017). "Walter Ray Williams Jr. Adds Another Milestone to Legendary Career With USBC Senior Masters Win". Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  32. ^ Schneider, Jerry (July 28, 2019). "Eugene McCune Wins PBA50 Spectrum Lanes Open; Walter Ray Williams Jr. Earns PBA50 Player of the Year". Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  33. ^ Goodger, Jef (April 13, 2021). "WALTER RAY WILLIAMS JR. BREAKS RECORD WITH 15TH PBA50 TOUR TITLE". Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  34. ^ Cover story in U.S. Bowler, Winter, 2010.
  35. ^ Vint, Bill. "Weber Re-Writes PBA History with Marathon Open Victory, Hands Williams Player of the Year Title." Article at on April 4, 2010.
  36. ^ Four Inducted Into ABC Hall of Fame 2005-03-18. Accessed 2007-08-22.
  37. ^ Hall of Fame
  38. ^ "PBA Announces the 50 Greatest Players in Association's History". Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  39. ^ "Experts Select Earl Anthony as Greatest Player in PBA History." Article at, January 26, 2009.
  40. ^ Vint, Bill (December 25, 2016). "Canadian Rookie Francois Lavoie Wins PBA Shark Championship, Spoils Walter Ray's Bid for History". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  41. ^ Schneider, Jerry (July 10, 2019). "Herrington Edges Williams for First Round Lead In PBA50 River City Extreme Open". Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  42. ^ a b "Walter Ray Williams Jr. PBA bio". Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  43. ^ Walter Ray replies to questions 2004-03-20. Accessed 2007-08-22.
  44. ^ Independent Lens recap of A League of Ordinary Gentlemen at [8]

External linksEdit