HAMMOND | The Times/Pepsi Classic isn't just for keglers who bowl four or five nights a week and carry averages that would make baseball players proud.
The seven-class system allows bowlers of all types to have a chance at winning a major tournament.
Scott Sharpe, of Griffith, epitomized that idea Sunday at Olympia Lanes. Sharpe came into the tournament with a 190 average, one pin too high for Class C. Still, he rolled a 660 series after handicap that currently ranks in the top 16 in Class B.
"I'm here because my buddies are bowling and it's a fun tournament to bowl," Sharpe said. "You get to hang out with everyone, have fun and the money's a bonus. It's not all about winning."
Sharpe said that if he does qualify, his focus will be more on performing than having a good time.
"I definitely want to win. I hate losing," Sharpe said, "but I don't come here saying 'If I don't qualify (for the semifinals), I'm going to be upset about it.'"
Demotte resident Wendell Stilley bowls in one league: Saturday night mixed at Hebron Lanes. The Class B bowler had to make an adjustment to synthetic lanes and had some success in his first time playing in the Classic in years.
"People that I bowl with told me about (the tournament) and asked if I wanted to go do it, and I just said 'sure,'" Stilley said. "I didn't think I'd win anything, but you never know."
The biggest score of Sunday's opening round was Evanston Township high school girls coach Derrick Brown's 782 after handicap. The 61-year-old Brown will be out of town and won't be able to bowl in the Class SA semifinals.
"I have plane tickets," Brown said. "I just came to bowl. I'm a bowler."
Brown bowled consecutive 255 games to start his day. Then, he rolled a 144.
"I had to move my eyes," he said. "People don't believe it, but you have to move your eyes. So, I moved my eyes."