Keith Craycroft, who joined the Professional Bowlers Association tour only a year ago, averaged 238 for the first six games yesterday to take the first-round lead in the $75,000 Fair Lanes Open in Springfield.
The 25-year-old Craycraft, who has earned $4,000 this year, rolled high games of 277, 270 and 247 en route to a total pinfall of 1,427, 25 pins more than second place Mark Roth of Stalen Island, N.Y.
Roth, the leading money winner on the tour ($47,605 in 11 tournaments) is looking for his second title on the 1977 circuit. He won the $100,000 Showboat Invitational in January.
Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Louie Moore of Columbus, Ohio, with 1,392, Fred Jaskie of Greendale, Wis., with 1,384 and Don Ball of Santa Maria, Calif., with 1,350.
Dick Ritger of River Falls, Wis., shot 290 for the high game of the first round.
Area bowler Larry O'Neill of Vienna was tied for 19th on the six-game list with a total of 1,301.
Roth is favored to win the $8,000 first prize. Craycroft, Tommy Hudson of Akron, ranked third among the money winners ($35,770), and Teata Semiz, fresh off a victory and a $14,000 first prize in Miami last week, are among the top challengers.
"I didn't bowl well today, but I concentrated well enough to take the lead," said Craycroft, who averages 212 for the year. "I haven't won much money and the travel is rough on you. But then, I haven't been out here that long."
Despite the absence of top bowlers Dick Weber and Earl Anthony, who according to PBA officials "probably took off the final two weeks of the tour to practice for the finale (the Firestone Tournament of Champions in Akron with a first prize of $25,000)," the Fair Lanes Open includes a field of 144 and features 14 of the tour's top 20 money winners. Curt Schmidt, defending champion of this tournament, is back.
The second six-game qualifying block was bowled last night and the third and final round will be rolled today. The top 24 bowlers with the highest total pinfall will advance for eight games of match play tonight and Friday. The top five will advance to Saturday's nationally televised (WMAL-TV-7) finals at 3:30.