The 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour will conclude with one of the toughest challenges in professional bowling beginning Tuesday when the 66th U.S. Open gets underway at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J.
Not only will it be one of the most demanding—both mentally and physically–but also could be the climactic setting for determining Player of the Year honors. Currently Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, leads the Player of the Year points standings but is followed closely by Chris Barnes and Norm Duke. Malott and Duke both have won three titles this season while Barnes has two.
Two-handed sensation Jason Belmonte of Orange, Australia will also be looking to win his second consecutive PBA Tour title after winning the Bowling Foundation Long Island Classic last week.
The tournament will consist of 18 qualifying games – six each on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – after which the field will be cut to the top 25 percent for another nine-game round on Friday. The top 24 after 27 games will advance to round-robin match play which concludes on Saturday. The top five players will advance to the live, two-hour ESPN-televised stepladder finals on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Also in the field of more than 400 professional and amateurs, are several players named to the list of the 50 greatest players in PBA history as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. Among players on that list who will compete are all-time PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. (45 wins), Parker Bohn III, Tommy Jones, Danny Wiseman, Doug Kent, Mika Koivuniemi and Pete Weber, who will be trying for an unprecedented fifth U.S. Open title.
“In every respect I believe the U.S. Open is the most demanding tournament we face on Tour,” said the 44-year-old Duke. “You don’t bowl in it for the fun. You bowl for the challenge, prestige and everything that comes with winning it. With the prize money ($100,000 to win), Player of the Year possibilities and prestige, the anticipation is just unbelievable.”
As a major with a challenging format, the U.S. Open will provide another grueling test for the competitors. The event will also be contested on a U.S. Open lane conditioning pattern, which is considered to be the toughest in professional bowling. Adding to the pressure will be a life-changing $100,000 first prize, a three-year PBA Tour exemption and Grand Slam points which will impact players trying to qualify for the GEICO PBA Team Shootout hosted by Six Flags in June.
66TH LUMBER LIQUIDATORS U.S. OPEN SCHEDULE
Brunswick Zone Carolier, North Brunswick, N.J.
Monday, March 30
8 a.m. - Practice (A Squad, B Squad A-L)
12:30 p.m. - Practice (B Squad M-Z, C Squad)
Tuesday, March 31
8 a.m. - A Squad qualifying (6 games)
Noon - B Squad qualifying (6 games)
6 p.m. - C Squad qualifying (6 games)
Wednesday, April 1
8 a.m. - B Squad qualifying (6 games)
Noon - C Squad qualifying (6 games)
6 p.m. - A Squad qualifying (6 games)
Thursday, April 2
8 a.m. - C Squad qualifying (6 games)
Noon - A Squad qualifying (6 games)
6 p.m. - B Squad qualifying (6 games)
Field cut to top 25 percent
Friday, April 3
9 a.m. – Final qualifying round (9 games)
Top 24 advance to match play
6 p.m. - Match Play Round 1 (8 games)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
10 a.m. - Match Play Round 2 (8 games)
6 p.m. - Match Play Round 3 (8 games)
Top 5 advance to ESPN stepladder finals
Sunday, April 5, 2009
1 p.m. Eastern - Live 2-hour ESPN telecast