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Last weekend, Dave Guindon of West Seneca led the qualifying for the Tonawandas Scratch Eliminator Tournament at Manor Lanes.

Whatever he collected was just another drop in the bucket for Guindon, who by his own estimate, has won between $1 million and $1.5 million in gross earnings in his career. That includes $100,000 for winning a Megabucks Tournament in Las Vegas, another $120,000 for a second, third and another first in such events.

Last year he won the $20,000 top prize in the True Amateur Tournament’s Summer Classic at the Orleans Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Nev., besting a field of more than 400 bowlers.

He’s cashed in all over the world – in the Netherlands, Spain, China, Sweden, England and the United Arab Emirates – and estimates he’s won 50 or more regional weekend tournaments in his 46 years.

All that, however, is not the main reason he was elected to the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame for 2014. He is a two-time winner (1986 and 2002) of the George A. Obenauer Masters title, one of only eight bowlers to win more than two Obies. Others are Mike Neumann (4), Joe Ciccone, Brad Angelo, Mike Hanes and Phil Dewey (3 each) and Ryan Ciminelli and Mike Faliero Jr. (2 each).

Also he has two All-Events titles, a Doubles championship and two Teams titles in the GBUSBC City Tournament in scratch competition as well as state doubles and team titles and a state Masters title.

Guindon started bowling as a youngster at Southgate Lanes (now Strikers) in West Seneca. It was an activity he and his late father, Ed, could do together. Seeing that his son had natural ability, Ed Guindon encouraged him to work seriously at it.

“He kept me learning but never deprived me of the fun of it. Soon I was motivated to do it myself,” Dave Guindon said of his dad.

Guindon attended St. Mary’s High in Lancaster, which did not field a varsity bowling team at the time. Guindon got involved in the Pepsi Junior League on Saturdays. Soon he was bowling in men’s leagues, first at Airport, then in a four-man classic league at Arrow and a B league at the old Roc-Mar Lanes.

“I started to make a name for myself. I got drafted into a travel league, Guindon said. “I won the Obenauer when I was 18 and guys started taking me to tournaments like the Hoinke” in Cincinnati “and weekend scratch stuff.”

Guindon joined the PBA in 1987 when he was only 20, and, after finding a sponsor, traveled two years on the tour before the sponsorship money dried up.

“I made one television show and probably 10-12 top 24 finishes,” Guindon said. “During that time I was informed about the megabucks tournaments and big-money weekend things. I was advised to ‘drop your PBA card for two years to regain your amateur standings.’ ”

He won the first megabucks tournament he entered at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas and he was on his way.

Guindon said he was fortunate to be in his prime in the 1990s, “when there was a lot of those big money tournaments.”

Guindon admits that living off bowling is a risky existence. One ball in the 10th frame can be the difference in thousands of dollars.

“You’ve got to be mentally tough. Not all people are like that, but I’m just wired that way,” Guindon said. “People used to ask me when I was going to settle down and get a job. I’d tell them when I get a job that pays $80,000 a year in my own time and a 7 a.m. tee time on Mondays, I’ll settle down.”

Eventually, Guindon did settle down. He’s worked for Upstate Pharmacy for the last 13 years. Locally he bowls regularly in a couple of leagues and on weekends and vacations, he’s still looking for money tournaments. He bowls an average of three weekends a month and still makes the occasional foray into what’s left of the big-money tournaments in Las Vegas.

Mallwitz wins Eliminator

Although Guindon was the top qualifier, he didn’t make it to the finals of the Tonawandas Scratch Eliminator. Mike Mallwitz took the $1,000 top prize by defeating Tony Dolan, 233-231, in the championship match.

One of the highlights of the tournament was a 300 game by No. 2 qualifier Bill Truman, who was inducted into the Tonawandas GBUSBC Hall of Fame in its most recent class last fall.

Among the nine who earned places in the eliminator finals was Rochester’s Brittni Hamilton, a former star at Vanderbilt University and now an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where former Maryvale star Melanie Hannon was a standout as a freshman this season.

Tonawandas to roll

Youth bowling stars Abbey Kieffer and Kyle Zack, who bowled 300 games this season, will roll out the first ball in opening ceremonies of the Tonawandas USBC’s 72nd annual City Championship Tournament at Island Lanes on May 5. The opening squad will go off at 6:30 p.m. The tournament runs through May 20, except Sundays.

Kieffer bowled her 300 in her first 700 series (732) in winning the Tonawandas Division A Scratch title. Chloe Strong (831) was the handicap winner.

Zack bowled 700 to take the Boys A Scratch title. Tony Grucello won the handicap title with 798.

All Tonawandas USBC adult members are eligible for the tournament. Applications are available at local bowling centers and the association office (692-8668).

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com