Lavoie Defeats Rash to Win His Second U.S. Open Title

by Bill Vint October 30, 2019 21:56

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - For the second time in his short professional career, Canada's Francois Lavoie donned the coveted green jacket at the U.S. Open.

The 26-year-old right-hander defeated 14-time Go Bowling! PBA Tour champion and top seed Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, 221-172, on Wednesday night to become the 12th bowler in history to win the prestigious title multiple times.

lavoieHis first time hoisting the U.S. Open trophy was in 2016 on the way to PBA Rookie of the Year honors.
The latest win gave Lavoie his fourth PBA Tour title and made the fourth-year professional the first foreign-born player to win the U.S. Open more than once. Finland's Mika Koivuniemi (2001) and Dom Barrett of England (2018) also have won the event.

Wednesday's star-studded stepladder at Victory Lanes was broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
Along with the iconic outerwear, Lavoie also earned a $30,000 top prize. The U.S. Open was the fifth, and final, major of the 2019 PBA Tour season. The win was Lavoie's first since 2017.

"This is so surreal, and I don't even know where to begin," Lavoie said. "To win the first one was unbelievable and a dream come true. Winning the second one, wow. Especially with the way the season started, I never could've expected this. It's not something you think will happen again, and definitely not this year of all years. I feel so fortunate."

Lavoie started the final match with five consecutive strikes and cruised to the title. Rash opened with a strike but did not throw another until the ninth frame when his third major title already was out of reach.
Rash was in a familiar position as the No. 1 seed, having won the 2007 United States Bowling Congress Masters and 2012 PBA Tournament of Champions from there.

"I'm great, honestly," Rash said after the loss. "I led the U.S. Open, which is a dream come true. I've always wanted to make this show. Frankie bowled unbelievable. He started with the front five on a pair that was extremely brutal. He's a two-time champion at this event for a reason. It was a great performance, and he out-bowled me. I'm happy with my preparation and thought process and everything that was going on. I have no regrets from today, and I feel like this still was one of my best seasons overall."

Despite the loss, Rash indeed is winding down one of his best seasons in a career that began in 2005. His 2019 campaign includes two titles and more than $145,000 in earnings. He took home $15,000 for Wednesday's runner-up finish.

In the night's four matches, there only were three strings of strikes longer than a double, and Lavoie had two of them on what he considered the most challenging of the week's four oil patterns.
His keys to success on all the patterns were surface management and different hand positions.

"I wasn't ever really comfortable on this pattern for the 32 games we bowled on it, and going into match play, I was pretty nervous about holding onto a spot on the show for another 24 games," said Lavoie, who averaged less than 200 for his first eight games on the week's final oil pattern. "I had a hard time getting my hand to do what I wanted to get the right ball motion, but we stuck with it and stayed in it. Throwing the front five in the final game was huge, especially since our plan was just to try to hit the 1-3 every time. That pair was really hard."

On the way to his first U.S. Open title in Las Vegas, Lavoie also managed to string strikes in what is considered one of the sport's toughest environments. That year, he also was the second seed and advanced to the title match by becoming the first bowler in history to roll a perfect game on a U.S. Open television show.

Lavoie rolled into this year's championship match simply by filling frames, another key to success on the demanding conditions at the U.S. Open.

The Team Canada member posted a clean 214-164 win against two-time major champion Anthony Simonsen, 22, of Little Elm, Texas, who was looking to earn his eighth PBA Tour title and become the youngest player to win three majors.

Simonsen, who won the 2016 USBC Masters and 2019 PBA Players Championship, advanced to Wednesday's semifinal with a 187-148 against 11-time major champion and 2019 PBA Player of the Year front-runner Jason Belmonte of Australia.

After three solid shots to start the match, Belmonte failed to get more than six pins on four of his next five first balls. The 36-year-old two-hander tried everything to get back in the match, including a switch to a urethane ball in the seventh frame and moving from the left side of the lane to the right.

The move worked on the right lane, but the 22-time PBA Tour champion split twice on the left lane, including the 2-8-10 combination in his final frame. A missed 10 pin from Simonsen in the ninth frame gave Belmonte an opportunity to at least force Simonsen to mark, but the final split ended his chances for a fifth title in 2019.

A win Wednesday would've given Belmonte his first U.S. Open title, and he would've joined USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the only players to win the Super Slam.

Belmonte has four wins at the USBC Masters, three PBA Tournament of Champions titles, two victories at the PBA World Championship and two wins at the PBA Players Championship.

His 148 game was the lowest he has bowled on TV. His previous low came in a 214-156 loss to Wes Malott in the title match of the 2013 U.S. Open.

In Wednesday's opening match, neither Simonsen nor Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, looked immediately comfortable on the fresh 40-foot oil pattern, but two rolled 10 pins early in the game gave Simonsen a small advantage over O'Neill, who didn't deliver his first strike until the fifth frame.

A 2-8-10 split from O'Neill in the sixth frame widened the deficit, and Simonsen followed the first commercial break with four consecutive strikes to pull away for a 226-193 victory.

O'Neill, the 2010 U.S. Open winner, also was looking to become the 12th bowler in history to win the event multiple times. The 38-year-old right-hander owns 11 PBA Tour titles, including two this season.

The field this week started with 144 players, all of whom bowled 24 games of qualifying over three days (eight games each day). Each round featured a different oil pattern, and a fourth lane condition was introduced for the cashers' round, match play and championship round.

The U.S. Open is conducted jointly by USBC and the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.

2019 U.S. Open
At Victory Lanes, Mooresville, N.C.

Wednesday's results

FINAL STANDINGS
1, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 435 (two games), $30,000
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Illinois, 172 (one game), $15,000
3, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, 577 (three games), $12,000
4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 148 (one game), $10,000
5, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 193 (one game), $8,000

STEPLADDER RESULTS
Match No. 1 - Simonsen def. O'Neill, 226-193
Match No. 2 - Simonsen def. Belmonte, 187-148
Semifinal - Lavoie def. Simonsen, 214-164
Championship - Lavoie def. Rash, 221-172

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FOX Sports, PBA Announce Expanded Television Schedule for 2020

by Bill Vint October 30, 2019 08:38

LOS ANGELES – Today, FOX Sports and the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) announced the 2020 Go Bowling! PBA Tour television schedule, which includes more shows on the FOX broadcast network, the first show featuring women bowlers and more live telecasts. The announcement was made today by Bill Wanger, FOX Sports’ EVP, Head of Programming and Scheduling and PBA CEO Colie Edison.

The second year of the PBA-FOX Sports agreement features six telecasts on FOX, the most PBA action on network broadcast TV since 1999. Plus, there will be 25 shows on FS1 and a total of 23 live broadcasts, the most in 12 years (up from 19 live shows last year). Altogether, the 2020 TV schedule includes more than 60 hours of coverage.

"We are delighted to expand our Go Bowling! PBA Tour offerings," says Wanger. “In our first season, we brought new energy and excitement to the tour, highlighting the star bowlers and enhancing the broadcasts with Kegel’s Specto ball-tracking technology StrikeTrack to provide real-time ball tracking during all events.”

Kicking off the 2020 PBA on FOX season will be a bonus event - PBA Clash - on Sunday, Nov. 3 on FOX. The 90-minute telecast will feature top PBA stars in a unique, $50,000 winner-take-all competition, plus a look at the new year and upcoming events on FOX and FS1.

“We’re making major investments in the PBA and the future of the tour by expanding TV coverage and increasing prize money across our tournaments,” said Edison, the PBA’s CEO and Chief Customer Officer of Bowlero Corp, its parent company. “Bowlero Corp purchased the PBA with the goal of strengthening its presence throughout all media and our partnership with FOX is an essential part of that objective.”

Other highlights of the 2020 PBA on FOX Sports schedule include:

  • Live coverage of five PBA major championships: the PBA Tournament of Champions on Sunday, Feb. 9, from suburban Akron, Ohio; the PBA Players Championship on Saturday, Feb. 15, from Columbus, Ohio; the US Open on Sunday, Feb. 23, from Lincoln, Nebraska; PBA World Championship on Wednesday, March 18, from Las Vegas, and the United States Bowling Congress Masters on Sunday, March 29, from Reno, Nevada.
  • Revolutionary coverage of professional bowling’s biggest event, the PBA World Series of Bowling X. Five consecutive days of WSOB coverage, including live finals of four PBA title events, will air from Las Vegas, March 15-19.
  • The PBA Playoffs are back bigger and stronger, taking place from April 6 through May 17. The playoffs will be held in four different locations, allowing fans across the country to see their favorite bowlers in the exciting tournament.
  • The PBA/PWBA Mixed Doubles take place on Sunday, July 5 live on FS1 from Denver and will include the debut of professional female bowlers on FOX Sports.

· The PBA League team competition returns to Portland, Maine, where the hometown team looks to defend its PBA League title in four live primetime telecasts on FS1 for three consecutive nights, July 21-23.

Viewers can live stream the PBA shows on the FOX Sports and FOX NOW apps or at FOXSports.com.

In addition to the 60 hours of broadcast television, FOX Sports digital also will play a key role in expanding the PBA's visibility. Select highlights will be available on @FOXSports social handles across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Additional details concerning tournament formats, host bowling centers and more, will be announced by the PBA soon through the PBA Network's social media outlets.

2020 Fox schedule

About FOX Sports

FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing Fox Corporation's wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, the business has ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing relationships. FOX Sports includes the sports arm of the FOX Network as well as FS1, FS2, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Deportes. FOX Sports’ digital properties include FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App, which provides live streaming video of FOX Sports content, instant scores, stats and alerts to iOS and Android devices. Additionally, FOX Sports and social broadcasting platform, Caffeine, jointly own Caffeine Studios which creates exclusive eSports, sports and live entertainment content. Also included in FOX Sports’ portfolio are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as a licensing agreement that established the FOX Sports Radio Network.

About the PBA

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated to the sport of bowling and its professional competition, with thousands of members and millions of fans throughout the world. The PBA plays host to bowling’s biggest tournaments from the Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, and PBA50 Tour. In 2019, the PBA was acquired by Bowlero Corporation, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling entertainment centers with more than 300 locations throughout North America. For more information, please visit PBA.com and BowleroCorp.com.

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Sean Rash Earns Top Seed for Stellar U.S. Open Stepladder Finals

by Jerry Schneider October 29, 2019 21:16

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - After 56 games over five days, five competitors have advanced to the championship round of the 2019 U.S. Open.

The quintet conquered four challenging oil patterns at Victory Lanes and now will battle for the $30,000 top prize, coveted green jacket and final major championship on the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule live on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The standings seemed to be on a continuous spin cycle throughout the final round of match play Tuesday evening, with three different people topping the leaderboard during the eight-game block.

Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, a 14-time PBA Tour champion, spent the most time out in front and held a 60-pin advantage over 2016 U.S. Open champion Francois Lavoie of Canada heading into the day-ending position round.

Though Lavoie was able to win the position-round matchup, 217-211, Rash had enough of a lead to claim the top seed for the TV stepladder by 24 pins.

Lavoie held on for the No. 2 spot, which is the same place he qualified the year he won. He and Rash will be joined on the show by Australia's Jason Belmonte, Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas. All five are major champions.

"I have one game to bowl for a title, which is something I've done six, seven or eight times this year, and it's a great feeling," said Rash, who was the No. 1 seed for both of his major titles - the 2007 United States Bowling Congress Masters and 2012 PBA Tournament of Champions. "There's four unbelievable players on the show with me, all major champions, so it's going to be an amazing show. I'm extremely happy right now, but there's still so much left to do."

Rash, who set the pace through 32 games of qualifying and led the final 24 players into the match-play portion of the event, finished with a 56-game pinfall total of 12,379, which included 30 bonus pins for each of his 12 wins in match play. He started match play with seven consecutive losses.

Lavoie finished with a 12,355 total, Belmonte closed with a 266-233 win over Shawn Maldonado to jump from fifth place to third (12,312), O'Neill finished with 12,303 and Simonsen held on to the final spot with 12,261, just 27 pins ahead of Maldonado.

"Tonight was very much needed and something I felt was coming," said Belmonte, a 22-time PBA Tour champion. "I finished the second round with 279 and realized that game put me back in contention. I was about 100 out of the show and thought I could get there with a couple good games in a row. Through the middle of the last block, I did some of the best bowling I've done in a really long time."

The star-studded stepladder includes some amazing storylines.

Rash is looking for his third title of 2019 and third career major. A win would make Lavoie the first foreign-born player to win the event twice, while he and O'Neill, the 2010 winner, both have a chance to become the 12th bowler in history to win multiple times.

Belmonte and Simonsen both have found the winner's circle in majors this season. Belmonte won the PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA World Series of Bowling X PBA World Championship and was the runner-up to Simonsen at the 2019 PBA Players Championship.

Belmonte's win at the 2019 PBA World Championship moved him past PBA Hall of Famers Earl Anthony and Pete Weber, who each own 10 major titles.

Simonsen, who, along with O'Neill has won twice this year, is looking to become the youngest player with three majors - he also won the 2016 Masters - and Belmonte is eyeing his record 12th major title. The U.S. Open is the one that has eluded him. The Australian's best finish at the event was a second-place effort in 2013.

"This has put me in a position to have a crack at No. 12, and I'm excited and nervous and I can't wait to get out there and leave it all on the lanes," said Belmonte, a four-time champion in 2019. "I'll give it everything I've got, and if the pins want to fall, it'll be my year. I know there will be plenty more U.S. Opens, but I'm kind of hoping they fall for me this time."

Defending champion Dom Barrett of England also made match play this week and finished 14th, one spot ahead of 2017 champion Rhino Page of Orlando, Florida.

The field this week started with 144 players, all of whom bowled 24 games of qualifying over three days (eight games each day). Each round featured a different oil pattern, and a fourth lane condition was introduced for the cashers' round, match play and championship round.

The U.S. Open is conducted jointly by USBC and the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.

For complete U.S. Open results click on https://www.bowl.com/US_Open/US_Open_Home/2019_Results/

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Lavoie Leads After First Round of Match Play at U.S. Open

by Jerry Schneider October 28, 2019 19:48

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - The initial roster at the 2019 U.S. Open was pretty stout, filled with the sport's top performers and many up-and-coming young standouts.

What's left, now that the field has been cut to the top 24 for round-robin match play, could be mistaken for the first draft of a publication celebrating the greatest players of the PBA’s second 50 years.

Among those remaining in contention for the $30,000 top prize, coveted green jacket and final major championship on the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule are 17 PBA Tour titlists, 12 PBA major champions, including seven past U.S. Open winners, and eight players who have reached the television finals at the prestigious event since it returned from a one-year hiatus in 2015.

The overall lead changed hands a few times during the eight games of match play Monday night at Victory Lanes, and 2016 U.S. Open winner Francois Lavoie of Canada finished the day atop the standings with an 8,729 total. His score includes pinfall for 40 games and 30 bonus pins for each of his six wins in match play.

Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas, is second with 8,694 followed by Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania (8,668), left-hander Jesper Svensson of Sweden (8,588) and Houston's Shawn Maldonado (8,574).

"Keeping the momentum going tomorrow will be about staying smart and patient," Lavoie said. "I think I have a good process and routine, and sticking to what I've been doing is key. It's kind of repetitive, but that's what it is. You don't want to get ahead of yourself. You want to take every frame separately, one at a time, especially with a pattern this tough."

The biggest move of the day came from Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, who averaged more than 220 on the way to a 6-2 record. He started match play in 21st place and now is sixth in the standings, just 37 pins below the cutline.

The 31-year-old right-hander is one of the seven remaining players without a PBA Tour title. Monday night's performance left him comfortable and confident on the 40-foot oil pattern being used for the cashers' round, match play and championship round.

"I'm feeling pretty confident with the pattern, and even though the initial idea was to start a little straighter, that wasn't really the right place for me, so I moved in and played the dry most of the eight games and was able to stay with the same ball," said Novak, the Regular All-Events champion at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships. "I did make a few small mistakes, otherwise I could've bowled better some of the games, but I definitely feel good going into tomorrow. Hopefully, I can make something happen."

Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, was the qualifying leader after Monday's eight-game cashers' round, averaging nearly 214 over the event's first 32 games. He closed the cashers' round with games of 253 and 268 to surge into the lead for the first time this week.

Despite only going 1-7 in his first eight matches, the two-time major champion is in ninth place and just 61 pins outside of the top five. With 16 games remaining, there's only 95 pins between fifth and 10th place.

Defending champion Dom Barrett of England also advanced to match play. He posted a 2-6 match-play record and currently is 21st in the standings with an 8,316 total. He's looking to make his third U.S. Open telecast since 2015. He was the runner-up that year, falling to left-hander Ryan Ciminelli in the title match.

Competition at the 2019 U.S. Open will resume Tuesday with two additional rounds of matches, beginning at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern.

At the conclusion of the evening block, 56-game pinfall totals, including bonus pins, will determine the five players for the stepladder finals, which will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT.

The field this week started with 144 players, all of whom bowled 24 games of qualifying over three days (eight games each day). Each round featured a different oil pattern, and a fourth lane condition was introduced for the cashers' round, match play and championship round.

All rounds leading up to the TV show are being broadcast live at BowlTV.com and simulcast on FloBowling.

The U.S. Open is conducted jointly by the USBC and Bowling Proprietors' Association of America. For complete standings click on https://www.bowl.com/US_Open/US_Open_Home/2019_Results/

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Svensson, Defending Champion Barrett Among Advancers in U.S. Open

by Jerry Schneider October 27, 2019 21:59

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Jesper Svensson of Sweden owns eight PBA Tour titles, including one major victory, but he's never made the first cut at the U.S. Open.

All of that changed this week at Victory Lanes as he averaged 212 over 24 games to cruise into the cashers' round at the 2019 event.

The 24-year-old left-hander is one of 36 players from the field of 144 competitors to advance, and he'll enter Monday's eight-game cashers' round in fifth place with a 5,088 total.

Canada's Francois Lavoie, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, maintained his lead for the second consecutive day and tops the standings after three rounds with a 5,246 total, a 218.58 average. Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, is second with 5,154 followed by Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois (5,128), and Houston's Shawn Maldonado (5,096).

PWBA champion Maria Jos‚ Rodriguez of Colombia held on for the final spot in the cashers' round with a 4,871 total, a 202.96 average. Rodriguez was one of three women in the field this week. England's Verity Crawley also made the cut, finishing in 14th place with a 4,983 effort.

Competition will resume Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern, and the top 24 players after the cashers' round will move on to round-robin match play, which will get underway Monday at 6 p.m. EDT.

Each round of the 2019 U.S. Open, leading up to the championship round, is being broadcast live on BowlTV.com and simulcast on FloBowling.

CBS Sports Network will have live coverage of the stepladder finals on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Eastern. The winner will take home the coveted green jacket and a $30,000 top prize.

Defending champion Dom Barrett of England also survived the three-day test and will continue his quest for a second consecutive green jacket.

Barrett qualified 18th overall with a 4,978 total but left Sunday's third round a little frustrated with his performance on the day's 37-foot oil pattern.

The 1,600 total was his lowest performance of the week by 69 pins and didn't give him the momentum he was hoping for, but he knows the next portion of the 56-game event will be a fresh start that requires a clear mind and new game plan.

"The tournament really starts with the cashers' round because you bowl the rest of the way on one pattern," Barrett said. "We survived eight games each day on three different patterns, and now we'll have 32 games on one pattern, so the person who figures that one out will be the one who wins."

The 34-year-old right-hander and seven-time PBA Tour champion posted scores of 1,669 on the event-opening 45-foot oil pattern and 1,709 on the 41-foot condition in the second round.

Their invisible opponent the rest of the way will be 40 feet long, and having made the marathon march on multiple occasions - he also was the runner-up in 2015 - he knows what kind of preparation is required.

"I bowled early today, so I'm going to unwind a bit and take it all in," Barrett said. "I battled and came away with pretty good scores the first couple of days, but today was a bit frustrating. It's over, though, and now it's time to focus on what's next. I've got all day to think about my ball selections for the next part of the event, which is helpful."

Svensson is a much different player than he was when he made his U.S. Open debut during his rookie year on the PBA Tour in 2015, and a focus on improving his versatility paid off this week in North Carolina as he successfully handled the three challenging oil patterns.

"The lanes obviously are pretty tough out there, and I feel like I've been bowling really well physically," said Svensson, who is making his fifth U.S. Open appearance. "When you feel like you're throwing a lot of good shots, it's easy to stay in shape mentally as well. I've had a good week so far, but there's still a long way to go. Right now, just to be able to make it through for the first time at the U.S. Open is a big step forward for me."

Svensson admits that he has struggled in the past when the lanes were a little more challenging, but failing at times along the way showed him the things he needed to work on.

Rather than be defeated, he worked harder, and it showed this week at Victory Lanes, where he improved each day.

In Friday's opening round, Svensson's 1,571 total left him well below the cutline, but he rebounded with consistent sets of 1,758 and 1,759 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to climb the standings

"I've always been such a terrible grinder, so to be bowling well when the lanes are tough makes me very happy, and I feel good for tomorrow," said Svensson, who won the 2016 PBA Tournament of Champions for his first major title. "After a couple of defeats, you realize what you need to work harder on, and versatility definitely is a key here. The different patterns require different strategies and lane play, and I've been focused on getting more versatile. I think if you work hard, it pays off."

Svensson and Barrett are two of 11 international players who made the first cut Sunday, while Svensson is one of three left-handers.

Last year, Barrett became the third foreign-born player to win the U.S. Open, joining Finland's Mika Koivuniemi (2001) and Lavoie (2016). The last southpaw to win the event was Rhino Page of Orlando, Florida, in 2017.

For those who survive the cashers' round and advance to match play at the 2019 U.S. Open, competition will continue through Tuesday night, after which the 56-game pinfall totals, including bonus pins for each win in match play, will determine the five TV finalists

The U.S. Open is the final major championship on the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule and is conducted jointly by the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.

For complete U.S. Open standings and schedule click on https://www.bowl.com/US_Open/US_Open_Home/2019_Results/

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