Kruml, Belmonte Top 64 Players Advancing to USBC Masters Match Play

by Jerry Schneider February 23, 2017 17:10

Saying Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte has been dominant at the United States Bowling Congress Masters would be an understatement, and he is on a tear again this week at The Orleans Bowling Center.

The 33-year-old has been around the top of the leaderboard all week, leaving the lanes with the lead in two of the three qualifying rounds, but he'll enter the double-elimination match-play bracket as the No. 2 seed behind Nick Kruml of Downers Grove, Illinois, who ended qualifying Thursday with games of 288 and 266 to secure the top seed.

The two are among the 64 bowlers who advanced to match play, which includes defending champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, who qualified 59th.

Kruml, a 23-year-old right-hander, finished the 15 games of qualifying with a 3,594 total, a 239.6 average, and now has made match play in all three of his USBC Masters appearances. He exited with 1-2 records in both 2015 and 2016, and he has been focused on using those experiences to improve in 2017.

Belmonte posted a 3,578 total and was followed by fellow Australian Sam Cooley (3,540), Michael Tang of San Francisco (3,517) and Jesse Buss of Belvidere, Illinois (3,470).

Belmonte's career at the Masters has been beyond remarkable. In 10 previous visits, he has finished in the top 10 six times, including three consecutive wins in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He now has advanced to match play for the 10th time in his 11 appearances, and he's looking to become the event's first four-time winner.

"Now, it's a new tournament, and it becomes a lot more strategic," Belmonte said. "We'll be following our own transition, so there will be some discussion about how I want to play the lanes and how my opponent is thinking about playing them. I just need to be smart, watch the lanes and bowl the best match I can. If I get beat, I'll know my opponent bowled better and earned it."

The final two spots in the bracket were decided by a roll-off after Chad Kloss of Cudahy, Wisconsin, Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, and Vernon Peterson of Las Vegas tied for 63rd place at 3,223, a 214.87 average.

The three bowled one game to determine which two would advance and who would go home.

Peterson led the way with a 201 game and was followed by Novak (200) and Kloss (188). Peterson will enter the bracket at No. 63, while Novak goes in at No. 64, earning him an opening-round match with Kruml.

All competitors at The Orleans this week bowled 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the match-play field. Three-game total pinfall will determine who advances in the bracket.

Match play gets underway Friday at noon Eastern and will continue throughout the day Friday and Saturday to determine the five players for the championship round. Those five bowlers will compete in the stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 26.

For complete results after the third round visit http://scores.bowl.com/2017Masters/2017MastersRound3.pdf

All qualifying and match play rounds of the Masters are being covered live on Xtra Frame, the PBA's online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit PBA.com.

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Tang, Belmonte Lead USBC Masters After Second Round

by Jerry Schneider February 22, 2017 15:57

 

Michael Tang of San Francisco holds the top spot in the 2017 USBC Masters after two rounds with a 2,479 total, a 247.9 average. He opened the event with a 296 game and found his stride again Wednesday for the highest block of the day, a 1,261 effort at The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas.

Tang's rise to the top of the leaderboard Wednesday included games of 258, 258, 247, 267 and 231. His low game of the event is 220,

"I've been able to get into a spot with urethane that allows me to have a little bit of miss room right and left," said Tang, a senior at San Jose State University and the 2015 Intercollegiate Singles Championships winner. "As they've developed, it has gotten better for me because I can parallel left and get more aggressive with my hand, which is my strong suit. The lanes have been really coming to me so far, so we'll see how the burn squad goes tomorrow."

Three-time Masters champion Jason Belmonte of Australia is second with 2,416, England's Stuart Williams is fourth with 2,362 and Steve Pavlinko Jr. of Sewell, New Jersey, rounds out the top five with 2,358.

Belmonte is trying for his second major title of the season after winning the recent Barbasol PBA Players Championship. It was his seventh major and 13th career Tour title. It was also the three-time PBA Player of the Year’s first Tour title in two years.

For the second consecutive day, Nick Kruml of Downers Grove, Illinois, is among the leaders at the United States Bowling Congress Masters, and, as has been the case at various points of his bowling career, he's on the cusp of a breakout performance.

The 23-year-old right-hander has averaged more than 237 through two days of qualifying and his 10-game total of 2,378 is third among the 395 competitors.

Kruml is in familiar territory, having advanced to the double-elimination match-play portion of the event in 2015 and 2016, but he's looking to improve on those performances, which ended with 1-2 records and early exits.

The two-time first-team All-American at Wisconsin-Whitewater keeps putting himself in position for something great to happen, as he did at the 2013 Junior Gold Championships and again at the 2017 USBC Team USA Trials, but he's still waiting for a defining moment on the lanes.

In 2013, Kruml was the top qualifier at Junior Gold and earned a spot on Junior Team USA 2014, but he was unable to finish the job, ultimately finishing third in the bracket portion of the tournament. At the Team USA Trials this year, he felt he bowled well, but one disappointing outing in the five-day event took him out of contention for a spot on Team USA.

The Masters competitors will have five additional games Thursday to secure their spots in match play, where they'll join defending champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas.

After two rounds, Simonsen is in a tie for 58th place with a 2,160 total, just inside the cut line. Should he finish outside the top 64, he'll earn the final spot in the bracket, and the top 63 players overall will join him. He still can improve his seeding with a strong final qualifying day.

Through 10 games, there is a tie for 64th place with 2,155, a 215.5 average.

All competitors at The Orleans this week will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the match-play field. Three-game total pinfall will determine who advances in the bracket.

Qualifying concludes Thursday, and match play will take place Friday and Saturday to determine the five players for the championship round. Those five bowlers will compete in the stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 26.

For complete standings after the second round visit http://scores.bowl.com/2017Masters/2017MastersRound2.pdf

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Tom Smallwood Averages 252 to Take First Round Lead in USBC Masters

by Jerry Schneider February 21, 2017 15:46

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

When Jalen Mosley of Indianapolis finished schooling some of the best bowlers in the world during the first round of qualifying at the 2017 United States Bowling Congress Masters, his demeanor was calm and he remained focused - not on bowling, but on heading off to work on his language arts homework.

The 16-year-old high school sophomore is taking the week off of school to see where he ranks among the best around, but staying current on his school work is as important as staying above the cutline at one of the premier events for USBC members.

After the first of the week's three qualifying blocks at The Orleans Bowling Center, Mosley is in 74th place with a 1,080 total, and his eyes are on a spot in the event's 64-player double-elimination match-play bracket. His five-game effort Tuesday included a high game of 246 and a clutch finish in the fifth game of the day, in which he struck on five of his final six shots.

"This is a really cool experience, and I'm still amazed I bowled as well as I did," said Mosley, who finished tied for third place in the U15 division at the 2015 Junior Gold Championships and was 36th in the same event in 2016. "My entry to the Masters was a birthday gift, now that I feel like I can compete with these guys this week."

Mosley is one of three 16-year-olds in the USBC Masters field, and the youngest by about a month. The others are Tristan Butler of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Cerell Cardines of Las Vegas.

Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Michigan, holds the lead after five games at the 2017 Masters with a 1,263 total, a 252.6 average. He rolled games of 274, 268, 245, 244 and 232 to pace the 395-player field on this week's 40-foot oil pattern.

Momentum seems to be in Smallwood's favor after a fourth-place finish in last week's FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions. He also had a runner-up performance at the 2016 PBA World Championship. Prior to the recent run, his last TV appearance came at the 2014 Masters, where he finished fourth.

"As kids, all of us dreamed of bowling on Sundays, and it's been nice to make two shows in such a short time, especially with both being majors," said Smallwood, a two-time PBA Tour champion. "I'm definitely confident coming into this week. With three majors in a row recently, your body gets a little beat up, but you get sharper bowling this much. Now, I just need to keep it simple and grind for the next two days, hopefully get to match play and have that work out how I want."

Smallwood is followed by England's Stuart Williams (1,261), Nick Kruml of Downers Grove, Illinois (1,260), reigning PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana (1,223), and collegiate standout Michael Tang of San Francisco (1,218).

There is a three-way tie at 1,093 for 61st place, making that the cutline after five games.

Defending Masters champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, who is guaranteed a spot in the match-play bracket, finished the first round of qualifying tied for 110th place with a 1,063 total. He struggled early but averaged 232 his last three games to make up some ground.

All competitors at The Orleans this week will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the match-play field. The top 63 players will join Simonsen in the double-elimination bracket, where three-game total pinfall determines who advances.

As the defending champion, Simonsen is guaranteed the No. 64 spot in the bracket, but bowling qualifying gives him a chance to improve his seeding, as well as get a feel for the bowling center and oil pattern.

Qualifying continues through Thursday, and match play will take place Friday and Saturday to determine the five players for the championship round. Those five bowlers will compete in the stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 26.

All qualifying and match play rounds of the Masters are being covered live on Xtra Frame, the PBA's online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit PBA.com.

For complete first round standings click on http://scores.bowl.com/2017Masters/2017MastersRound1.pdf

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PBA Announces 2016 QubicaAMF PBA Regional Awards

by Jerry Schneider February 21, 2017 06:47

The PBA announced its 2016 QubicaAMF PBA Regional Award winners Tuesday recognizing Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year, PBA50 Players of the Year and Pat Patterson Award winners in each of its eight regions.

Highlights of the season included Jakob Butturff’s record nine PBA Regional titles, which resulted in Northwest and West Player of the Year honors, and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., who was a member of the winning Decker Appraisal Services Baker Trios team in Harrisonburg, Va., to earn his 100th overall title in PBA competition.

The PBA’s regional program, founded in 1970, provides bowlers with a proving ground to develop their skills in high-level competition against some of the sport’s established stars.

Award winners were announced by the PBA’s regional managers: Russ Mills, East Region; Sam Zurich, South Region; Bob Jakel, Central Region; Rich Weber, Midwest Region; Pete McCordic, Southwest Region; Gary Mage, West and Northwest Regions, and Junia Yoshida, Japan Region.

Here’s a summary of 2016 PBA Regional award winners:

East – Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., took Player of the Year honors with three top three finishes including one win and two thirds. Rookie of the Year went to Cody Shoemaker of Hanover, Pa., who cashed in five of seven events and had one match play appearance. PBA50 Player of the Year honors went to Ray Edwards of Middle Island, N.Y., who had four top five finishes including one win. The Pat Patterson recipient in the East was PBA50 Tour player Warren Burr of Wilmington, Del.

South – Two-time PBA Tour winner Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., took Player of the Year thanks to five top-five finishes including two wins. Rookie of the Year went to Trevor Roberts of Crystal River, Fla., who made match play in six of seven events and had a best finish of third. PBA50 Player of the Year Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla. with four top three finishes including two wins, a second and third-place finish.  The Pat Patterson Award winner was Todd Wilson of Summerville, N.C.

Central – Eugene McCune of Munster, Ind. earned Player of the Year honors with seven top-five finishes including one win and four second-place finishes. Graham Fach, who made history as the first Canadian to win a PBA Tour title when he won the 2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship, earned Rookie of the Year honors with three wins and a fifth-place finish. Brian Kretzer of Kettering, Ohio earned PBA50 Player of the Year with five top-three finishes including two wins.  The Pat Patterson Award went to Dick Gran of Hartville, Ohio.

Midwest – 2011 USBC Masters champion Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa, earned Midwest Player of the Year honors for the third time with five top-three finishes including one win, three runner-up and one third-place finish. Winning PBA50 Player of the Year honors was Dave Williams Jr. of Omaha with four top-five finishes including one win, one runner-up, one fourth and one fifth-place finish. No Rookie of the Year award was voted on in the Midwest. Gerald Marrs of Huntley, Ill. was the Pat Patterson award recipient.

Southwest – Player of the Year honors went to Chris Hibbitts of Keller, Texas with five top-finishes including two wins. Rookie of the Year went to 2016 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year and U.S. Open winner Francois Lavoie of Wichita, Kan. The Canadian native had four top-five finishes including one win and one runner-up finish. No PBA50 Player of the Year or Pat Patterson Award was awarded in the Southwest.

Northwest – If there was an overall award for Regional Player of the Year it would have to go to Jakob Butturff of Chandler, Ariz., who earned Regional Player of the Year in both the Northwest and West regions by winning a record nine PBA regional titles during the 2016 season, breaking the previous record of eight held by Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas. Other award winners in the Northwest were Darren Tang of San Francisco who earned Rookie of the Year honors with two third-place and one fifth-place finish. Northwest PBA50 Player of the Year went to Rob Rice of Sunnyside, Calif., who won two PBA50 Regionals and also had a third and fifth-place finish. No Pat Patterson award was awarded in the Northwest region.

West – Darren Tang also claimed Rookie of the Year honors in the West with one win, a second and fourth-place finish. PBA50 Tour standout Ron Mohr of Las Vegas earned PBA50 Player of the Year thanks to three wins, a second and fourth-place finishes. Jim Gordin, proprietor of Yosemite Lanes in Modesto, Calif., and a PBA50 competitor, won the Pat Paterson award winner in the West.

Japan – Bowler of the Year is Takahiro Sato, Rookie of the Year is Masaki Noda, and Japan’s Pat Patterson Award recipient is the Sekiyu Co., Ltd.

The PBA conducted approximately 150 regional events during the 2016 season, including standard events, PBA50 and PBA60 events for players 50 and/or 60 years and older, “challenge” events for players who had not previously won PBA titles, and PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional events. The leading players in competition points in standard and PWBA-PBA Women’s events from each region were awarded paid entries into GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII in Reno, Nev., in December, and were invited to compete for berths in the PBA Regional and PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional Challenge finals.

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One Year After Milestone Win, Simonsen is Ready to Defend USBC Masters Title

by Jerry Schneider February 20, 2017 01:08

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

Leaving the youth bowling ranks at age 17 to embark on a career on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour was a tough decision for Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, but his continued success against the best bowlers in the world has shown him he chose the right career path.

Simonsen, who recently turned 20, is enjoying some major momentum entering the upcoming United States Bowling Congress Masters, where he is the defending champion.

The 2017 USBC Masters will take place Feb. 21-26 at The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas.

Though he is guaranteed a spot in the event's 64-player double-elimination match-play bracket, Simonsen will bowl the 15 qualifying games with the same mentality he has for any tournament and work to improve his seeding in the bracket.

"It's going to be the same process as before or at any other event, but minus a little bit of pressure, since I've already got a spot in the bracket," said Simonsen, whose first PBA Tour title came at the 2016 Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship presented by Storm, where he teamed with Connor Pickford. "Treating qualifying like I normally would also will help me get into tournament mode from the start, rather than waiting until match play begins."

Simonsen became the youngest bowler to win a major title on the PBA Tour when he claimed the 2016 Masters title, defeating Canada's Dan MacLelland, 245-207. Simonsen was 19 years and 39 days old at the time.

The victory was the start of an incredible streak, and Simonsen now has made the championship round in four of the PBA's last five majors. He has finished in the top 11 in seven of his 10 major appearances.

"I really enjoy the longer formats, and I know I'm capable of playing just about anywhere on the lane, which those events sometimes require you to do," Simonsen said. "I started slow last week (at the 2017 Barbasol PBA Players Championship), but the format gave me a chance to figure things out and get something going."

Simonsen went on to finish second at last week's event, losing to three-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte, the only other bowler to win the Masters since Mike Fagan claimed the title in 2012.

Belmonte's unprecedented run of Masters domination came to an end last year in Indianapolis just before a potential winners bracket meeting with Simonsen.

Instead, Simonsen met Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and defeated the 10-time PBA Tour champion to lock up a spot on the TV show. He then topped MacLelland in the match that determined the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the stepladder finals.

Three years ago, Simonsen felt capable and hopeful for that kind of success, but there was uncertainty, too. That didn't even include the logistics, like the fact that at 17, he wouldn't be able to rent a car or get a hotel room in the many cities to which he'd be traveling.

With the support of friends, family and some PBA Tour veterans, he made a seamless transition and found immediate success.

Now, when he feels off his game, he has endless support.

When he felt he needed a tuneup in January after the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII in Reno, Nevada, his ball rep and coach, USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Del Ballard Jr., was there to work with him.

Simonsen also can depend on his girlfriend, Anggie Ramirez Perea, a top competitor in her own right, who serves as a travel partner, confidant and cheerleader.

"We were able to work out a lot of the kinks, and then making the TV show really helped with my confidence," Simonsen said. "Having Anggie to travel with also is great, especially with her being a bowler. While I'm more of a ball rep and caddy when she bowls, I just enjoy knowing she's back there watching me bowl anytime she's not bowling, too."

Simonsen will battle a Masters field expected to be a sellout with more than 390 of the best bowlers in the world looking to capture the coveted trophy and $30,000 top prize in 2017.

All competitors at The Orleans will bowl 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the match-play field. The top 63 players will join Simonsen in the double-elimination bracket, where he knows anything can happen during the three-game matches.

As the defending champion, Simonsen is guaranteed the No. 64 spot in the bracket, but bowling qualifying will give him a chance to improve his seeding, as well as get a feel for the bowling center and oil pattern.

The official practice day for the Masters is Feb. 20, which will be followed by three days of qualifying. Match play will take place Feb. 24 and 25 to determine the five players for the championship round.

Those five bowlers will compete in the stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 26 which will be followed immediately by the live WBT finals.

The 2017 Masters will feature a total prize fund of nearly $300,000 and again is a major event on the PBA Tour.

All qualifying and match play rounds of the Masters will be covered live on Xtra Frame, the PBA's online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit PBA.com.

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