Hurricane Matthew Postponement Puts PBA's Xtra Frame Reality Check Classic in the Spotlight for 2017

by Bill Vint March 9, 2017 04:12

TAMARAC, Fla. – Hurricane Matthew’s arrival in south Florida last October forced postponement of the Professional Bowlers Association’s inaugural PBA Xtra Frame Reality Check Classic, but the delay turned into good news for Sawgrass Lanes and the Tamarac area.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the tournament has been re-scheduled for March 17-19 as the kickoff event for a new eight-event Storm Cup Xtra Frame Tour series in 2017. In addition to competing for prize money and a PBA Tour title in Tamarac, all PBA members will compete for points toward $50,000 in end-of-season Storm Cup bonus money.

As part of PBA’s Xtra Frame Tour series, the Reality Check Classic will be live streamed around the world on the organization’s online, subscription-based bowling channel. Bowling fans can watch the entire event for as little as $3.99 for a three-day subscription (or for roughly $1.25 a week, have access to hundreds of hours of PBA, PBA50 and PWBA women’s tournament programming for a full year). Visit xtraframe.tv for details.

More than 100 of the PBA’s best-known stars will be on hand at Sawgrass Lanes. Among the established veterans already entered are 18-time PBA Tour titlist Tommy Jones, superstar Walter Ray Williams Jr., England’s Dom Barrett and PBA Tour titlists Dick Allen, Josh Blanchard, Ryan Ciminelli, Tom Daugherty, Bob Learn Jr., Bill O’Neill and Ronnie Russell. Representing PBA’s legion of emerging young stars will be 2016 Player of the Year EJ Tackett, two-hander Kyle Troup and former Rookie of the Year Marshall Kent. A significant number of top amateurs and collegiate bowlers also will be in the field, bowling as non-members.

The XF Storm Cup series provides unique incentives for PBA members to compete in all eight of the series events and encourages performances at a high level in every event because every point earned will be meaningful in the chase for shares of the end-of-season bonus pool.

Competition will be intense because points awarded to the top 20 players in each Xtra Frame event begin with the winner earning 25 points, second place 19, third place 18, etc., with points declining by one through 20th place. In 2016, the points race was decided in the final event when Jones won by five points over Tackett, who led by three points going into the finale, and by six points over Ciminelli, who led early in the series.

Following the Reality Check Classic, the Xtra Frame PBA Tour series will include stops in North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Delaware before its final event in Coldwater, Ohio, in late August. Fans will be able to track XF Storm Cup news and current point standings on a special link on pba.com once the series gets underway.

PBA XTRA FRAME REALITY CHECK CLASSIC
Sawgrass Lanes, Tamarac, Fla., March 17-19

Friday, March 17
3 p.m. - Practice session
4:15 p.m. – First-time players’ orientation meeting
6 p.m. – Pro-am

Saturday, March 18
9 a.m. – A Squad, eight qualifying games
2:30 p.m. – B Squad, eight qualifying games
    Top one-third after eight games advance to Cashers Round

Sunday, March 19
8:30 a.m. - Cashers Round, four games
    Top 16 after 12 games advance
11:30 a.m. – Round of 16, three games
    Top 8 after 15 games advance
1:30 p.m. – Round of 8, two games
    Top 4 after 17 games advance to stepladder finals
3 p.m. – Top 4 stepladder finals

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PBA Spare Shots: Matt O’Grady Wins Southwest “Super” Regional Thriller in Colorado

by Bill Vint March 8, 2017 06:54

Matt O’Grady from Rahway, N.J., normally a QubicaAMF East Region competitor, defeated U.S. Open champion Francois Lavoie of Canada, 279-278, in a thrilling title match to conclude the fifth annual PBA Lakewood Southwest Super Regional, sponsored by Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson and Storm Products, Sunday at Holiday Lanes in Lakewood, Colo.

The win was O’Grady’s third in QubicaAMF PBA Regional competition and his first in the PBA Southwest Region.

Lavoie, the 2016 PBA Rookie of the Year, won his first PBA title in last year’s Lakewood event. In this year’s title match, the 23-year-old Canadian started the game with a 7-10 split, picked up one pin, and then threw eight strikes heading into his 10th frame. O’Grady started with four strikes, spared a 10 pin, then struck out to force Lavoie to throw three more strikes to force a sudden death roll-off. A 10 pin on Lavoie’s final shot allowed O’Grady to claim the $5,000 first place check.

O’Grady, who averaged 256.89 for the tournament, qualified second. He edged Dylan Macon of Lubbock, Texas, 2-1, in his Round of 8 match and AJ Chapman from Wichita, Kan., 279-236, in the semifinal round match. Lavoie survived a semifinal round thriller over Andrew Klingler of Grand Rapids, Mich., 269-268, to advance to the title match.

BRONCOS’ C.J. ANDERSON HELPS PROMOTE BOWLING’S “COOL FACTOR”

Speaking of Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, he admitted during the Lakewood tournament that when he was a kid, bowling wasn’t very cool. It was something old people – like his grandmother – did while he spent his time in the bowling center playing arcade games.

As an adult, however, Anderson has done a 180-degree turn, and is now in love with the sport, and all of the many aspects of the game most people overlook. In fact, he’s become so fascinated with the sport, and the advanced skills one has to develop in order to compete at the PBA level, he decided to sponsor a PBA Southwest “Super Regional” at Holiday Lanes in Lakewood, Colo., last weekend. A two-time participant in the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational, Anderson used that platform to explain his passion for the sport to members of the Denver area news media who came out to cover the event.

“C.J. Anderson is cool,” said PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark, who also attended the event. “A great running back for the Denver Broncos who scores touchdowns in the Super Bowl is cool. All of us who are involved with bowling know it’s cool, but a lot of people have a perception that tells them it’s not. So when you have a guy like C.J. devote this much time and passion to the sport, it really elevates the cool factor in our game.”

Anderson, who has competed in PBA Regional events during the NFL’s offseason, said he is hopeful that bowling can rise to the level of popularity that would allow for more people to make a living doing it. He is also hoping that more young people will pursue scholarships in bowling, which are often available without acquiring a high level of skill .

“The bigger picture is to get other sponsors and to get a bunch of people into bowling and get the PBA back to what it was when I was younger and when I watched my grandma bowl,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who employs an unusual “wrong foot” delivery, bowled in the Lakewood event and averaged 197.88 for a respectable 68th-place finish in the field of 100.

631960468In addition to Anderson, Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts (left) also has received considerable mainstream media related to his bowling skills, including a great feature story by ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber, after bowling with Anderson in the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational in January. Media coverage of Anderson’s and Betts’ bowling activities are posted in the “In The News” section of pba.com (http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/03/06/anderson-devotes-time-passion-to-the-sport-of-bowling/#.WL5cHHsBrgF.twitter; http://www.espn.com/blog/boston/red-sox/post/_/id/51908/if-baseball-doesnt-work-out-for-mookie-betts-theres-always-pro-bowling).

PBA TOUR PLAYERS RETURN TO ACTION IN FIRST XTRA FRAME STORM CUP EVENT

PBA Tour players return to action in the first in a series of eight PBA Xtra Frame Storm Cup events March 17-19 when Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac, Fla., hosts the Xtra Frame Reality Check Classic.

The event, re-scheduled due to Hurricane Matthew, will feature a minimum $10,000 first prize and will award the first points in the new XF Storm Cup series that will pay a $20,000 first prize at the conclusion of the 2017 series plus additional cash prizes to the next four highest finishers. XF Storm Cup points will be awarded to the top 20 players with the winner earning 25 points, second place 19, third place 18, etc., with points declining by one through 20th place.

Each of the Storm Cup events also will be covered live from start to finish, exclusively by PBA’s Xtra Frame live streaming service. For subscription information, visit xtraframe.tv.

Immediately following the XF Reality Check Classic will be the first PBA International-World Bowling Tour tournament of 2017, the Brunswick Euro Challenge at Dream-Bowl Palace in Munich, Germany. Qualifying gets underway March 18 and the tournament ends on Sunday, March 26. First prize will be roughly $12,000 plus a PBA Tour title if the winner is a PBA member who doesn’t accept handicap pins.

QUBICA AMF PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: SHAFER WINS SECOND PBA50 REGIONAL TITLE

Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y. defeated Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Twp., Mich. by 125 pins to win the $1,500 first prize in the PBA50 Strike Zone Lanes Central Classic presented by Brunswick at Strike Zone Lanes in Canton, Ohio, Sunday.

Shafer, who turned 50 in August just as the 2016 PBA50 Tour season was wrapping up, finished with an 11-1 match play record and a total of 4,827 pins for 20 games, including match play bonus pins. The title was Shafer’s first of the year in the PBA Central Region and his second PBA50 Regional title.

● QubicaAMF PBA Regional activity over the March 10-12 weekend includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Colorado Springs Southwest Super Regional, presented by Budweiser, at Harmony Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter, Creek, Calif.

● The March 17-19 calendar of QubicaAMF PBA Regional action includes the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open, presented by Radical, at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio; the Odessa Southwest Open at Astro Bowl in Odessa, Texas, and a PBA West/Northwest tripleheader at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno – the PBA50 and PBA Sands Regency West/Northwest Classic events plus the Sands Regency West/Northwest Challenge (for non-titlists), presented by DV8.

● The schedule of QubicaAMF PBA Regional events over the March 24-26 weekend will feature the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Eastern Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the PBA50 Liberty Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Carpentersville, Ill.; the CCFA Strike Out Crohn’s and Colitis South Open, presented by Rhino Page, at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore.

● Closing out March and kicking off April’s QubicaAMF PBA Regional calendar over the March 31-April 2 weekend will be the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Virden, Ill.; the Myrtle Beach South Open at Myrtle Beach Bowl in South Carolina, and the FireLake Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Southwest Open at FireLake Bowl in Shawnee, Okla. The weekend also will include a Sunday-only reduced entry fee Elkhart Central/Midwest Open presented by 900 Global at Country Club Lanes in Elkhart, Ind.

● For complete QubicaAMF PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on QubicaAMF Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area. For more information about QubicaAMF, visit www.qubicaamf.com or, for social media posts, visit http://bit.ly/QAMFSponsorship1.

QUICK NOTES

● Reminder: entries are now open for PBA members for PBA50 Tour events that get underway April 15-17 (PBA60 Killer ‘B’ Open) and 17-20 (PBA50 Pasco County Florida Open), both at Lane Glo Bowl in New Port Richey, Fla. Entries will be available on March 15 to non-members for New Port Richey if space is available. Bowlers can enter online (http://www.pba.com/Tournaments/Season/106) or by contacting Mary von Krueger at maryvk@pba.com (fax: 850-564-1717).

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PBA Spare Shots: PBA Bowling Challenge Continues to Rank Among World’s Most Popular Mobile Games

by Bill Vint March 2, 2017 07:39

Concrete Software’s PBA Bowling Challenge Game continues to rank as one of the world’s most popular games among mobile device users. Current statistics pertaining to PBA Bowling Challenge show:

● The game has been downloaded 18,265,778 times;

● There are more than 100,000 active daily players;

● The total number of balls rolled in the game is now over 14.6 billion (with a “b”…);

● Players now have the option of 13 bonus venues like Zero-G, Jurassic Classic, and Route 66.

ENTRIES OPEN FOR PBA MEMBERS FOR PBA50 TOUR EVENTS

Entries are now open for PBA members for PBA50 Tour events as players get ready for the start of the 2017 season April 15-17 and 17-20 with the PBA60 Killer ‘B’ Open (for players 60 and older) followed by the PBA50 Pasco County Florida Open, both at Lane Glo Bowl in New Port Richey, Fla. Entries will be available to non-members 30 days prior to the start of each PBA50 event, if space is available.

Bowlers can enter online (click here to select the event: http://www.pba.com/Tournaments/Season/106) or by contacting Mary von Krueger at maryvk@pba.com (fax: 850-564-1717).

Following the season openers in New Port Richey, the PBA50 Tour heads to Spanish Springs Lanes in The Villages for the PBA50 UnitedHealthcare Sun Bowl In The Villages, presented by Radical, April 22-25; to Mooresville, N.C., for the PBA50 Miller High Life Classic presented by Columbia 300 at George Pappas’ Victory Lanes, April 30-May 3, and to Farmingdale, N.Y., for the PBA50 Johnny Petraglia BVL Open presented by Brunswick at Farmingdale Lanes, May 6-9.

PBA’s “senior players” then travel to Indianapolis for the season’s first major, the PBA50 Tour Players Championship, May 13-16, at Woodland Bowl.

For a complete PBA50 Tour schedule, visit pba.com and click on the schedules’ tab. All PBA50 Tour events will be covered live, from start to finish, on Xtra Frame, PBA’s exclusive live streaming service. For subscription information and a detailed schedule of air times, visit xtraframe.tv. Xtra Frame subscriptions are available for $3.99 (three days), $7.99 (a full month) or the full year Xtra Frame Season Ticket (at about $5 a month).

PBA TOUR PLAYERS RETURN TO ACTION IN FIRST XTRA FRAME STORM CUP EVENT

After a brief respite following PBA’s intense “Big February” schedule, Tour players will return to action in the first in a series of PBA Xtra Frame Storm Cup events March 17-19 when Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac, Fla., hosts the Xtra Frame Reality Check Classic.

Originally scheduled for early October 2016, the XF Reality Check Classic was forced to postpone due to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. The re-scheduled event will feature a minimum $10,000 first prize and will award the first points in the new XF Storm Cup series that will pay a $20,000 first prize at the conclusion of the 2017 series plus additional cash prizes of $10,000 for second place, $8,000 for third, $7,000 for fourth and $5,000 for fifth place.

In each of the eight XF Storm Cup events, points will be awarded to the top 20 players with the winner earning 25 points, second place 19, third place 18, etc., with points declining by one through 20th place.

Each of the Storm Cup events also will be covered live from start to finish, exclusively by PBA’s Xtra Frame live streaming service. For subscription information, visit xtraframe.tv.

Immediately following the XF Reality Check Classic, PBA players will have their first shot at a 2017 PBA International-World Bowling Tour title in the Brunswick Euro Challenge at Dream-Bowl Palace in Munich, Germany. Qualifying gets underway March 18 and the tournament ends on Sunday, March 26. First prize will be roughly $12,000. A PBA Tour title will be awarded if the winner is a PBA member who doesn’t accept handicap pins.

2017 U.S. OPEN TO FEATURE LIMITED FIELD, MODIFIED FORMAT

The United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, joint sponsors of the U.S. Open, have announced several changes for the 2017 event that will be held Oct. 25-Nov. 1 at 40-lane Flamingo Bowl in Liverpool, N.Y.

The U.S. Open, the fourth major championship on the PBA Tour’s 2017 schedule, will feature:

● 24 qualifying games, including eight-game rounds on “fresh, burn” and “double-burn” lane conditions;

● A limited field of 144 bowlers, including PBA earnings leaders and others who will be invited based on 2016 performances in international, collegiate and Junior Gold events, among others. For the list of invited players, click here: http://usbcongress.http.internapcdn.net/usbcongress/bowl/tournaments/pdfs/usopen/2017/2017USOpenInvitees.pdf

● To fill vacancies, a pre-tournament qualifying event will be held at Flamingo Bowl prior to the event;

● Invited players will have until June 1 to accept invitations, after which invitations will be extended to the next player on the eligibility list. Any vacancies will be added to the pre-event qualifier;

● A projected $175,000 prize fund with $30,000 to the winner.

"Returning to a select field where an athlete has to qualify brings a higher level of prestige to the event, and the potential to use smaller centers means we can take this great tournament to more places," USBC Director Chad Murphy said. "Additional changes, featuring a limit to the total number of lanes being used and the introduction of separate practice pairs, will further reduce outside factors from influencing the event, which should also be a good thing."

QUBICA AMF PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: REGIONALS RETURN TO ACTION IN MARCH

March may be known for “madness” of another kind, but in PBA competition, it also means a return to a full schedule of QubicaAMF PBA Regional competition, getting underway over the March 3-5 weekend with the PBA50 Strike Zone Lanes Central Classic presented by Brunswick, in Canton, Ohio, and the Lakewood Southwest Super Regional, presented by Denver Broncos’ running back CJ Anderson and Storm Products, at Holiday Lanes in Lakewood, Colo.

● QubicaAMF PBA Regional activity over the March 10-12 weekend includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Colorado Springs Southwest Super Regional, presented by Budweiser, at Harmony Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter, Creek, Calif.

● The March 17-19 calendar of QubicaAMF PBA Regional action includes the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open, presented by Radical, at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio; the Odessa Southwest Open at Astro Bowl in Odessa, Texas, and a PBA West/Northwest tripleheader at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno – the PBA50 and PBA Sands Regency West/Northwest Classic events plus the Sands Regency West/Northwest Challenge (for non-titlists), presented by DV8.

● The schedule of QubicaAMF PBA Regional events over the March 24-26 weekend will feature the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Eastern Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the PBA50 Liberty Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Carpentersville, Ill.; the CCFA Strike Out Crohn’s and Colitis South Open, presented by Rhino Page, at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore.

● Closing out March and kicking off April’s QubicaAMF PBA Regional calendar over the March 31-April 2 weekend will be the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Virden, Ill.; the Myrtle Beach South Open at Myrtle Beach Bowl in South Carolina, and the FireLake Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Southwest Open at FireLake Bowl in Shawnee, Okla. The weekend also will include a Sunday-only reduced entry fee Elkhart Central/Midwest Open presented by 900 Global at Country Club Lanes in Elkhart, Ind.

● For complete QubicaAMF PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on QubicaAMF Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area. For more information about QubicaAMF, visit www.qubicaamf.com or, for social media posts, visit http://bit.ly/QAMFSponsorship1.

QUICK NOTES

● Robert Fancher of Springville, N.Y., has won a new high-performance MOTIV ball; Tony Badger of Furlong, Pa., wins a new DV8 ball and Kelvin Peters of Byram, Miss., will receive a new high-performance Brunswick ball as February sweepstakes prizes for subscribing to Xtra Frame. The monthly sweepstakes is sponsored by the respective PBA Product Registered partners. Monthly winners are selected from among new Xtra Frame subscribers, who are automatically entered when they enroll as a monthly or Xtra Frame Season Ticket (full year) subscriber.

● Brett Krimminger of Kannapolis, N.C., is the February winner of a $200 HotelPlanner.com certificate, redeemable for future lodging expenses, compliments of PBA’s official travel partner. The monthly sweepstakes is open to anyone who books a hotel through the HotelPlanner.com link on pba.com. Those who book through HotelPlanner.com are automatically entered.

# # #

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Anthony Simonsen, Danielle McEwan Win World Bowling Tour Men’s, Women’s Finals

by Bill Vint February 26, 2017 11:42

By PBA Staff and Aaron Smith, PWBA Communications

LAS VEGAS – Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, capped a year of globetrotting by winning the World Bowling Tour Men’s Finals, presented by the PBA, Sunday at The Orleans Bowling Center, defeating WBT points leader Martin Larsen of Sweden, 243-213, for the $20,000 first prize.

Simonsen, a 20-year-old two-handed player who qualified second for the finals after a year-long, world-wide points competition based on performances in PBA International-World Bowling Tour events, eliminated no. 3 qualifier Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., in the opening match of the three-man stepladder, 263-253.

Women’s top qualifier and defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., successfully defended her WBT Women’s Finals title in unexpected fashion when Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., needing only a mark in the 10th frame to win, left a pocket 7-10 split and opened, handing McEwan a 203-200 victory.

Simonsen, the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Masters champion, struck on six of his first seven shots in the title tilt to build a 33-pin lead under WBT’s experimental “Current Frame” scoring system and secured the win on the bench when Larsen did not strike in the 10th frame.

Under the “Current Frame” system, players earned 30 pins a frame for each strike; 10 pins plus the total from their first shot of the frame for a spare, and actual pinfall for an open frame. Games consisted of 10 frames with no additional shots in the 10th frame if a player strikes or spares. The maximum score is 300 (30 pins for 10 strikes).

For Simonsen, the WBT win was a bit of redemption after falling short in his title defense at the USBC Masters. Simonsen finished the week tied for 17th place.

“It’s been a good three-week swing,” said Simonsen, who finished second at the 2017 Barbasol PBA Players Championship. “I made a TV show, all three cuts, so it’s been a good run. You obviously want to win them all, but being able to finish this week with the win makes it all worth it.”

McEwan, a 25-year-old right-hander, threw a strike in her 10th frame for a 203, forcing Johnson, a two-time PWBA Player of the Year, to mark in her 10th frame for the win. Johnson ran into a disaster instead.

After starting the title match with two strikes, McEwan was unable to strike again until the 10th frame, converting four multiple-pin combinations to remain in contention. Johnson held a 28-pin lead heading into the ninth frame but was unable to mark in her final two frames.

“In the moment, I didn’t think that strike would be enough,” said McEwan, who won the 2016 H.H. Emir Cup in Doha, Qatar. “I hadn’t struck on that lane in a while, so I just wanted to get to the pocket. It’s hard to watch that happen on the bench to someone who’s such a good friend and someone I look up to, but sometimes bowling works that way. I need to appreciate being on this side of it, because I know the other side can come just as easily.”

In the semifinal match, Johnson bested Colombia’s Anggie Ramirez, 268-220.

WORLD BOWLING TOUR FINALS PRESENTED BY PBA
The Orleans Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Sunday

WBT WOMEN’S FINALS
Final Standings:

1, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., $20,000.
2, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., $10,000.
3, Anggie Ramirez, Colombia, $5,000.
Stepladder Results (WBT Current Frame scoring system):
Semifinal Match: Johnson def. Ramirez, 268-220.
Final: McEwan def. Johnson, 203-200.

WBT MEN’S FINALS
Final Standings:

1, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, $20,000.
2, Martin Larsen, Sweden, $10,000.
3, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $5,000.
Stepladder Results (WBT Current Frame scoring system):
Semifinal Match – Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, def. Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 263-253.
Final – Simonsen def. Martin Larsen, Sweden, 243-213.

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Australia’s Jason Belmonte Dominates USBC Masters, Wins Record Fourth Title, Eighth Career PBA Major

by Jerry Schneider February 26, 2017 09:08

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Public Relations Manager

LAS VEGAS - Australia's Jason Belmonte has been a trailblazer in the sport of bowling his entire career, and he added another milestone to his growing list of accomplishments by becoming the first bowler to win the United States Bowling Congress Masters four times.

The 33-year-old entered the event's stepladder finals Sunday as the No. 1 seed and started the championship match at The Orleans Bowling Center with seven consecutive strikes, before a 7 pin ended his run at the first perfect game in a USBC Masters final.

The 279-212 win over amateur Michael Tang of San Francisco gave Belmonte his eighth major title, and second in three events, tying him with USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famers Mike Aulby and Walter Ray Williams Jr. for second all-time behind fellow hall of famers Earl Anthony and Pete Weber, who have 10 apiece.

"Honestly, it hasn't sunken in yet, and I'm really speechless," Belmonte said. "I love this tournament and think it really brings out the best in me. To have my name etched on this trophy four times and be the only person to do that is unbelievable. It doesn't seem real."

Belmonte, who won the recent Barbasol PBA Players Championship, now has 14 PBA Tour titles in nine seasons. He won the Masters three-consecutive times in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Heading into Sunday, Belmonte knew his game plan would be dependent on who else made the show and how they attacked the lanes in the games leading up to the final. Even as practice ended before the title match, Belmonte was uncertain about his look and made an educated guess.

"I struck once in practice and nothing looked like I was going to have that kind of game," said Belmonte, a three-time PBA Player of the Year. "With two shots left, Tim Mack hit the surface with 1,000 grit, and it looked OK. I hadn't thrown it on the other lane, so I had to make a guess on that lane. I told myself just to hit that spot. With urethane, the game Michael bowled easily could have been the game I had. He bowled a great game and didn't give anything away. He's an amazing talent."

Tang, the No. 4 seed for Sunday's championship round, was looking to become the first amateur since 2002 to win the Masters. He also would've been the first bowler to win from the fourth spot. Only two times since the Masters went to a stepladder format in 1980 has anyone lower than the second seed won the event.

Tang's ticket to the final came with a 227-217 win over amateur Alex Hoskins of Brigham City, Utah.
The two were even through five frames, with neither player throwing a double, but both rallying with late strings of three strikes.

Tang finished first, giving Hoskins the opportunity to win the game with a strike and nine-spare in his final frame, but Hoskins went light and left a 2 pin on his first offering. Hoskins, who made his first appearance at the Masters, finished third.

"The right lane got a little tight downlane," said Tang, the 2015 Intercollegiate Singles champion. "In the match against Hoskins, I rang a couple of 10s, which were worrisome, but I thought I had something figured out. The lanes kind of transitioned differently than through the week, so I had to make some different moves. Belmo is Belmo. It's hard to beat him when he has that kind of look. I feel like I bowled well, so there's nothing to be mad about."

In two wins on the way to the semifinal matchup with Hoskins, Tang tossed 18 strikes to get past his brother, Darren, and Sweden's Martin Larsen.

Tang's nine-strike performance against Darren ended in a 248-212 victory. The two were separated by just two pins after four frames, but four consecutive strikes from Michael in frames five through eight allowed him to pull away for good. Darren Tang finished fourth.

It was the first TV meeting between brothers since the 1994 PBA National Championship, when David Traber defeated his brother Dale in the title match. The last time two brothers met in the stepladder at the Masters was 1980 when Neil Burton defeated his brother, Nelson (Bo), in the semifinal, before topping hall of famer Mark Roth for the title.

clip_image001"It was fun," Michael Tang said. "I think he was trying to keep things a little looser, while I tried to stay in my zone and treat it like any other match. But it will be fun to watch back home."
In the opening match Sunday, Michael Tang also struck nine times, including the first five frames, to defeat Larsen, 264-229. Larsen, who's still searching for his first PBA Tour title, finished fifth.

Competitors in the 395-player field this week bowled 15 games of qualifying, before a cut was made to the top 63, who joined defending champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

2017 USBC MASTERS
At The Orleans Bowling Center, Las Vegas
Sunday's Results
Final standings

1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 279 (one game), $30,000
2, Michael Tang (a), San Francisco, 951 (four games), $22,500
3, Alex Hoskins (a), Brigham City, Utah, 217 (one game), $15,000
4, Darren Tang, San Francisco, 212 (one game), $11,500
5, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 229 (one game), $9,000

Stepladder results
Match One - M. Tang def. Larsen, 264-229
Match Two - M. Tang def. D. Tang, 248-212
Semifinal - M. Tang def. Hoskins, 227-217
Championship - Belmonte def. M. Tang, 279-212

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