Simonsen Poised to Set Age Milestone in USBC Masters, Belmonte Misses Finals

by Jerry Schneider February 13, 2016 11:05

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

Anthony Simonsen of Princeton, Texas, earned the top seed for the stepladder finals at the 2016 USBC Masters and put himself in position to become the youngest bowler in history to win a major title on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.

Simonsen, who rolled through the winners bracket with a 6-0 record, used a perfectly-timed ball change Saturday to turn a 28-pin opening-game deficit into a 683-636 win over Canada's Dan MacLelland, who will enter the finals as the No. 2 seed. MacLelland is seeking to become the first amateur since 2002 to win the USBC Masters.

The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern with the winner earning the $50,000 first prize and Masters Trophy.

With three-time defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia just missing the championship round at Woodland Bowl this week, there will be a new winner for the first time since 2012, and Simonsen is poised to assume that role.

"I'm at a loss for words right now," said Simonsen, who won his first PBA Tour title earlier this season and missed becoming the Tour's youngest overall champion by just two days. "Making my first show at a major as the No. 1 seed is amazing, and it's nice to only have to win one game for the title."

Joining Simonsen and MacLelland on the show will be Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, 2013 Masters runner-up Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Florida, who survived the four-player final elimination match that determined the last three seeds.

Loschetter won the shootout with a 720 series and will be No. 3 for the show. Malott was second with 687 and will be the fourth seed, and Daugherty shot 679 to earn the fifth spot. Martin Larsen of Sweden posted a 616 series and was eliminated.

Youth has been a common theme at the Masters in recent years, with 21-year-old EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana, and 22-year-old AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois, who were the top seeds in 2014 and 2015, respectively, but struggled against Belmonte in their title matches.

At 19 years and 39 days old, Simonsen, who is another among a handful of Tour players using a two-handed delivery, would surpass the previous record of 19 years and 83 days set by USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Mike Aulby of nearby Carmel, Indiana, when he claimed the PBA National Championship in 1979 for the first of eight major titles.

But, even as a young player relatively new to the national spotlight, Simonsen is mature enough to know he'll need to clear his mind and focus on the things he did this week in wins against Johnson, Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Jesse Buss of Belvidere, Illinois, Tackett and Malott.

"It definitely would be an honor to win and have a special place in history, but I will do my best not to think about it," Simonsen said. "It will be the same as always for me tomorrow, it just happens that it will be on live TV. I'll go out and throw the 10 best shots I can and hope for the best."

MacLelland also is hoping for the best but has a new outlook on the lanes. He recently gave up his professional status to focus on his family and career as a bowling center general manager, so his designation as an amateur could make him the seventh in history, and first since Brett Wolfe in 2002, to win the event.

"For me, this still really is a vacation from work, and I'm having a lot of fun," MacLelland said. "I've strived to be a champion out here for as long as I've been bowling, and to win would mean so much. If I don't, I still get to go home with my wife and daughter, and that's everything to me."

Belmonte, the first bowler in history to win the Masters three consecutive times, was among the final eight bowlers from this year's 417-player field, but losses Saturday to Malott and Larsen, ended Belmonte's run.
All competitors this week bowled 15 games of qualifying, before a cut was made to the top 63, who joined Belmonte in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

For complete bracket results click on http://scores.bowl.com/2016-Masters/2016MastersBracket.pdf

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Belmonte Goes 3-0 to Continue March to Fourth Masters Win

by Jerry Schneider February 12, 2016 13:07

 

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

Jason Belmonte again proved why he's considered the best bowler in the world by battling back from a 38-pin deficit to remain undefeated at the 2016 USBC Masters.

The three-time defending Masters champion struck on five of his last six shots, including a clutch double in the 10th frame, to defeat Kristopher Prather of Milton, Florida, 669-666, and now is two wins away from locking up a spot in the USBC Masters stepladder finals for the fourth consecutive year.

The three-time reigning PBA Player of the Year who made history last year by becoming the first bowler to win the Masters three consecutive times, had 3-0 record in the first day of match play and is one of eight bowlers remaining in the winners bracket at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.

A fill-ball epiphany after his second game against Prather pointed Belmonte in the right direction, and his fate then came down to execution.

"When I threw the fill ball and saw the way it hooked off the spot, I knew there was a big game out there, but I'd have to execute and get the pins to fall my way," said Belmonte, who defeated Missy Parkin and Aaron Lorincz earlier Friday. "When you're down 38, you don't have a lot of room for error. I don't know Kris too well, but I can see he's a shotmaker. You never want to give your opponent a chance, so getting the double in the 10th was huge. It also was a big confidence boost."

Belmonte will be back on the lanes Saturday at 9 a.m. Eastern to take on 10-time PBA Tour champion Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, in a rematch of the 2013 Masters title tilt. The Australian two-hander won that match 258-245 to claim his first Masters victory.

Fans can catch all the action on the final day of match play via PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. Click on the Xtra Frame tab on the pba.com homepage for subscription information.

Other winners bracket matches scheduled for Friday morning include 2014 Masters runner-up EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana, against 19-year-old recent PBA Tour champion Anthony Simonsen of Princeton, Texas; Team USA member Marshall Kent of Yakima, Washington, against Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Florida, and Canada's Dan MacLelland against Tim Foy Jr. of Seaford, Delaware.

Eight bowlers still remain in the elimination bracket, and they, too, will be back on the lanes at Woodland Bowl on Saturday at 9 a.m. Eastern.

The list of competitors in the elimination bracket includes, two-time Masters champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, Josh Blanchard of Mesa, Arizona, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, New York, Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, Houston's Shawn Maldonado, Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, Sweden's Martin Larsen and Prather.

All competitors this week bowled 15 games of qualifying, before a cut was made to the top 63, who joined Belmonte in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

After match play is completed Saturday, the top five players will be determined for Sunday’s stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.

For complete bracket results visit http://scores.bowl.com/2016-Masters/2016MastersBracket.pdf

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Belmonte Back in Familiar Territory at USBC Masters

by Jerry Schneider February 11, 2016 14:32

 

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

Three-time defending champion Jason Belmonte knew he was guaranteed a spot in the double-elimination bracket at the 2016 USBC Masters but he made sure to remain focused and aggressive throughout qualifying this week at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.

The three-time reigning PBA Player of the Year’s game plan was strategic and familiar, and he got progressively better during each round of qualifying, eventually posting the highest five-game set of the week to catapult himself to the top of the standings with a 15-game total of 3,483, a 232.2 average.

The stepladder finals of the second major of the 2016 PBA Tour season will be broadcast live on ESPN on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern, with $50,000 and the coveted Masters trophy going to the winner.

Canada's Dan MacLelland finished qualifying in second place with a 3,425 total and was followed by Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Florida (3,391), Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Michigan (3,347) and 19-year-old recent PBA Tour champion Anthony Simonsen of Princeton, Texas (3,341).

All competitors this week bowled 15 games of qualifying, before a cut was made to the top 63, who will join Belmonte in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, the 2011 USBC Queens champion, earned the final spot in match play with a 3,120 total, a 208 average, and she will take on Belmonte in the opening round Friday at 9 a.m. Eastern.

Belmonte's 1,256 block Thursday included one of the week's 11 perfect games and helped the three-time reigning PBA Player of the Year outdistance the 417-player field.

"I think the burn squad typically favors the guys who are able to get farther left, and it's no secret that's my A game, so it was nice to be able to take advantage of that today," said Belmonte, who also earned the No. 1 seed for his first title defense in 2014. "But, what I really wanted for today was to be focused and execute well, especially early in the games. That will be very important in match play."

Since 2013, Belmonte has bowled more than two dozen matches at the Masters, and he knows that given the level of talent it takes to make the top 64, seeding almost is irrelevant. His opponent could be a hall of famer or an up-and-comer, and what's important is having a strategy for each match and each pair of lanes.

Being able to bowl qualifying at Woodland Bowl this week allowed Belmonte to get a feel for the center and the 39-foot oil pattern as well as figure out which equipment would go through the pins the right way for him.

"I wanted to make the most of the 15 games and not take the opportunity for granted," said Belmonte, who has 12 PBA Tour titles, including five majors. "I had a chance to try some different balls, but I also wanted to get into a good place mentally. If I can get into the right mind frame and keep that competitive vibe, I think I'm a tough opponent to beat."

The last person to defeat Belmonte at the Masters was AJ Johnson of Oswego, Illinois, in the match to determine the top seed for TV at the 2015 event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but the Australian two-hander got redemption with a 202-157 win in the championship match.

The victory made Belmonte the first bowler in history to claim three consecutive Masters titles, and he joined USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the event's only three-time winners. In 2014, Belmonte became the first bowler since 1965 to successfully defend his Masters crown.

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

For complete qualifying results visit http://scores.bowl.com/2016-Masters/2016MastersRound3.pdf

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Ogle Averages 234 to Maintain USBC Masters Second Round Lead

by Jerry Schneider February 10, 2016 14:25

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

While nobody likes to make mistakes, Matt Ogle of Louisville, Kentucky, had room for a few after the blistering start he had at the 2016 USBC Masters.

But, instead of letting a couple of miscues at Woodland Bowling on Wednesday slow his momentum, he used them as opportunities to gather information about the challenging 39-foot oil pattern and the nuances of the 70-lane bowling center, all while maintaining his lead on the 417-player field.

The 31-year-old right-hander tops the 2016 USBC Masters standings after two days of qualifying with a 10-game total of 2,341, a 234.1 average. EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana, the runner-up at the Masters in 2014, is 27 pins behind with a 2,314 total and is followed by 2011 Masters champion Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa (2,298), Josh Blanchard of Mesa, Arizona (2,272) and Kristopher Prather of Milton, Florida (2,267).

Wednesday's round was Ogle's first chance to see the fresh oil pattern, which he'll also face in the final round of qualifying Thursday. A 159 effort in his third game Wednesday definitely will help his strategy moving forward. His other games in Round 2 were 213, 259, 278 and 181 for a 1,090 total.

"I had a pretty good look in practice and felt good going into the fresh today, but I got caught in the transition, which I'll be looking for around game 3 tomorrow," said Ogle, who rolled two of the week's six perfect games during Tuesday's first round. "I made a big move at the start of the fourth game, and that will be in the back of my mind tomorrow."

All competitors will return to the lanes at Woodland Bowl for five additional games Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m. Eastern. At the completion of 15 qualifying games, the top 63 bowlers will join three-time defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia, in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Match play will take place Friday and Saturday and determine the five players for the championship round. Those five bowlers will compete in Sunday's stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern.

As the defending champion, Belmonte 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. He is ninth after the two days of qualifying with a 2,227 total.

With only five games standing between Ogle and match play, he is confident, but focused.

"I still feel like this is all a dream," Ogle said. "It was amazing to be the leader after the first day, and it feels great to be able to maintain it after my squad today. I know I still have to throw good shots tomorrow, but this really will help loosen up my armswing for my last block.

The Masters is the second of three consecutive majors this season. Jesper Svensson, who won the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions on Sunday, has his work cut out for him after finishing 168th after the second round. The Barbasol PBA Players Championship begins Monday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus bowl in Columbus, Ohio.

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

For complete second round standings click on http://scores.bowl.com/2016-Masters/2016MastersRound2.pdf

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Louisville’s Matt Ogle Averages 250 to Lead USBC Masters First Round

by Jerry Schneider February 9, 2016 14:21

By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications

Matt Ogle of Louisville, Kentucky, has enjoyed past success on the national stage, but he was able to experience a whole new level of nervousness Tuesday on the way to the top of the standings at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Masters.

The 31-year-old right-hander saw a personal dream come true when he rolled the first perfect game of this week's event at Woodland Bowl, and he matched the feat two games later to surge into the lead with a five-game total of 1,251, a 250.2 average.

Ogle was able to hold off Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, who started the day with a 299 game and closed with 278 for a 1,227 total. Patrick Dombrowski of Parma, Ohio, is third with 1,191 and is followed by Canada's Dan MacLelland (1,188) and John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, New York (1,174).

While Ogle was wrapping up his second perfect game, George Gohagan III of Dayton, Ohio, was at the other end of the 70-lane bowling center putting the final touches on his own 300. The left-hander finished the opening round of qualifying with a 1,120 total, which is 15th overall.

"This is something I've always dreamed about doing, and to do it twice in a block is amazing," said Ogle, who had games of 196, 225, 300, 230 and 300 on Tuesday. "I was shaking pretty badly, I probably couldn't have written my name in English after the first one. This definitely is the most nervous I've been as far as 300s go, but I think it's going to help me relax a little the next two days."

Ogle will lead the 417-player field back onto the lanes at Woodland Bowl on Wednesday for the second of three five-game qualifying blocks. Competition will get underway at 8 a.m.

"To be the leader, especially with all of the top professional bowlers here this week, is a great feeling and something I never thought would happen," said Ogle, who won the Kentucky Open in 2015 and was the Open Singles champion at the 2014 Bowlers Journal Championships presented by USBC. "I'm just fortunate to be able to be here bowling this week, and I'm very happy with how I started. My plan now is to pick the right ball, make good shots and stay clean."

All players will bowl 15 games over three days to determine the match-play field. The top 63 bowlers will join three-time defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia in the three-game, double-elimination bracket.

As the defending champion, Belmonte 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. He is tied for 30th place after the first day of qualifying with a 1,088 total.

Match play will take place Friday and Saturday and will determine the five players for the championship round. Those five bowlers will compete in Sunday's stepladder finals, live on ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern.
The 2016 Masters features a total prize fund of $295,000 and is a major event on the PBA Tour.

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 full first round standings visit http://scores.bowl.com/2016-Masters/2016MastersRound1.pdf

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