February 26, 2007 19:00
In a tournament known for low scores and challenging lane conditions, Tommy Delutz Jr. made sure he took advantage of the one day in which he could rack up high scores.
Delutz averaged 239.67 with a 1,438 six-game pinfall Tuesday to take the lead after day one of the 64th U.S. Open, the second of four Major events on the Denny’s PBA Tour.
The 492-bowler field is split into three squads over the first three days of qualifying. The first and third squads bowl on freshly oiled lanes, while the second squad bowls on lanes already broken down which typically results in higher scores. Each squad bowls at different times during the three days of qualifying.
“This is old school bowling today. The U.S. Open starts tomorrow for me,” Delutz (Flushing, N.Y.) said. “If you are an exempt bowler or a top amateur, this is where you get your pins. You stock up your pins here and then try to survive the fresh tomorrow.”
Bowling on the second squad Tuesday, Delutz came out on fire with a 279 in game one. After a 194 and 201 in games two and three, Delutz averaged 254.67 over the final three games to build a huge lead.
A two-time Denny’s PBA Tour titlist, Delutz is looking for his first Major title. He has not historically bowled well in the U.S. Open, finishing no better than 40th the last five seasons.
“I usually despise the U.S. Open,” Delutz said. “Since the PBA went to set oil patterns, I’ve done horrible at the U.S. Open. But it’s my first time home since January 2 and I’m able to sleep in my own bed. Even with this being a Major, I have a low level of stress this weekend.”
Finishing second with 1,376 was 62nd U.S. Open champion Chris Barnes (Double Oak, Texas). The eight-time titlist who captured this season’s GEICO Classic, is one of several bowlers looking to break out this week and take control of a wide open PBA Player of the Year race. This week’s event is one of three Majors in the final four events of the 2006-07 season.
Ritchie Allen (Columbia, S.C.) who returned to the lanes this week after missing the entire season to date due to a right hand injury, is fifth with 1,363.
In addition to Barnes, three other former U.S. Open champions are in the top 30, as three-time U.S. Open winner Pete Weber (St. Ann, Mo.) is 22nd with 1,303, two-time champion Del Ballard Jr. (N. Richland Hills, Texas) is 27th with 1,284 and one-time winner Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) is ninth with 1,338.
The entire field returns Wednesday for another six games, followed by the final six game block on Thursday after which the field will be cut to the top 123. Those 123 will bowl another nine games on Friday to determine the final 24 bowlers for round robin match play.
The top four after Saturday’s match play will bowl for the $100,000 top prize and three-season exemption live on ESPN Sunday at Noon EST at Brunswick Zone Carolier.
Denny’s PBA Tour.
300 games (1) - Lonnie Waliczek.
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