Anthony Neuer of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, etched his name into eternity on Sunday. The 18-year-old bowler converted a 7-10 split—the game’s most difficult spare—during a U.S. Open semifinal match in Reno, Nevada. The feat was broadcast on Fox Sports, and it was just the fourth time in history that a professional bowler hit a 7-10 split during a televised event. (The last one? Why, that would be Jess Stayrook at the 1991 Tucson Open, of course.)
In the words of announcer Rob Stone, “Give me some oxygen and water!”
Sports Illustrated notes there have been 32 televised games in which a bowler rolled a 300, meaning Neuer’s split is as special as it gets. While he wound up losing the match to Jakob Butturff, the young “Ginger Assassin” still finished third in the Open—one of his first tournaments since joining the PBA last fall—and won a prize of $12,000. Not a bad trip to Reno.
I talked to Neuer on the phone on Wednesday to learn more about his once-in-a-generation feat. Our interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Nick Greene: Were you aware that it had been 30 years since a bowler converted a 7-10 split on television, or did you find out about that after the fact?
Anthony Neuer: I was aware it had been a while, but I was not aware that it had been 30 years. I thought it had been maybe like 10 years or something.
Have you ever converted a 7-10 split before, without the cameras around?
I converted one at my home center just practicing, but it obviously didn’t have near the excitement of this one.
What was going through your head on Sunday when you saw the 7-10 in front of you? What kind of odds did you give yourself?
Honestly, I didn’t think about making it. In my head I was like, “The match isn’t over yet.” You never know. I’ve seen a lot of stuff happen in bowling. So I decided to make sure I just got one of them. Just don’t give pins away.
You seemed pretty chill about it afterward. Is that your general demeanor on the lanes?
I was excited about it, but I didn’t show it because me and [opponent] Jakob Butturff shared quite a bit. Jakob was really excited about it. It took a couple minutes for it to set in for me. That’s why I didn’t look so ecstatic about it.
You’re a lefty, right?
Yes, I am.
Do you think that makes a difference when it comes to hitting 7-10 splits?
I do not believe so, but ironically three of the four [bowlers to convert a televised 7-10 split] of all time have been left-handed. I found that out afterwards. I don’t think it makes a difference, but you look at that stat and it seems like it would.
How has bowling during the pandemic been? Does the mask make it tougher?
By now most of us are used to the masks. It doesn’t affect us too much. But right when we first started it was definitely just different having something on your face.
You hit a 7-10 split with one on, so maybe you have a lucky mask now?
Maybe. That was actually given to me by the PBA right before the match. I still have it.
I’m sure you’ve watched the Fox Sports broadcast of your roll by now. What do you think of Rob Stone’s call?
To see the energy levels of him and Randy Pedersen, it was just insane. It shows how rare it was and what it means to make it. If it was something that happened on the regular they would have never been that ecstatic about it.
Rob Stone’s nickname for you—the Ginger Assassin—do you think it’s going to stick? Or, should I say, do you want it to stick?
I’m not opposed to it. It’s kind of catchy. I think it’s definitely going to stick.
The clip has gone viral. What do your friends think of all this?
My friends think it’s pretty cool that somebody from our small town has gone viral.
Do you have any advice for amateur bowlers about how to hit a 7-10 split? Is there any strategy we should be aware of?
There is a little bit about angles. When you shoot it you have to get the pin to bounce off the side because the side is actually solid wood. It’s wood-on-wood, so it kind of bounces a little bit. I can help maximize your chances, but I’m not going to give you a guarantee on it.
OK. I’ll let you know if I ever hit one.
[Laughs.] All right.