Jason Belmonte of Australia and Michelle Feldman of Auburn, N.Y., picked up where they left off in qualifying and combined forces in match play to earn the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday’s stepladder finals of the Professional Bowlers Association Bayer Don and Paula Carter Mixed Doubles at Brunswick Zone Wheat Ridge.
Belmonte and Feldman combined for an 11-5 Baker format match play record and a 7,289 30-game overall pinfall Friday giving the pair a 386-pin lead over No. 2 qualifiers, reigning PBA Player of the Year Wes Malott and Shannon O’Keefe. O’Keefe, trying for her first PBA Women’s Series presented by BOWL.COM title, won a PBA regional title on Feb. 5 in Houston.
The Baker format requires each player to alternate frames in a game to combine for one score.
“The only strategy we had was determining which lane we felt best bowling on,” said Belmonte, the 2008-09 PBA Rookie of the Year. “We have a lot of confidence in each other right now which helps develop a good rhythm which I feel is very important in a doubles or team situation.
“I think we’re pretty relaxed and confident for Sunday and we’ll formulate our strategy then.”
Belmonte, using his trademark two-handed delivery, is trying for his second career Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour title and Feldman her third PBA Women’s Series title.
“It’s easy to help each other because we both have a lot of hook,” Feldman said. “We both play the same part of the lane so it’s just a matter of making little adjustments here and there.”
Qualifying No. 3 for the finals were three-time PBA Tour titlist Rhino Page and two-time Women’s Series titlist Shannon Pluhowsky.
The opening stepladder match will be between No. 4 qualifiers, 2009 PBA World Championship winner Tom Smallwood and Jodi Woessner against No. 5 qualifers PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss and World Bowling Writers Hall of Famer and one-time Women’s Series titlist Diandra Asbaty.
Voss converted a crucial 7-10 split in the eighth frame of the last match to keep his team in contention for a TV finals position.
The Mixed Doubles finals will be televised live by ESPN at 1 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Mountain) on Sunday.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA TOUR
BAYER DON AND PAULA CARTER MIXED DOUBLES
Brunswick Zone Wheat Ridge, Wheat Ridge, Colo.
(After 30 games, including match play records and pinfall including bonus pins.
Top five teams advance to Sunday’s stepladder finals. For places 6th to 16th each player receives prize money indicated).
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia/Michelle Feldman, Auburn, N.Y., 11-5, 7,289.
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas/Shannon O’Keefe, Arlington, Texas, 12-4, 6,903.
3, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla./Shannon Pluhowsky, Kettering, Ohio, 9-7, 6,888.
4, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich./Jodi Woessner, Oregon, Ohio, 10-6, 6,883.
5, Brian Voss, Alpharetta, Ga./Diandra Asbaty, Chicago, 9-7, 6,839.
6, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich./Wendy Macpherson, Henderson, Nev., 11-5, 6,811, $4,500.
7, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind./Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 8-8, 6,774, $4,400.
8, Ritchie Allen, Columbia, S.C./Clara Guerro, Colombia, 9-7, 6,718, $4,100.
9, Stuart Williams, England/Tammy Boomershine, North Ogden, Utah, 8-8, 6,715, $3,900.
10, Mitch Beasley, Puyallup, Wash./Laura Hardeman, Chula Vista, Calif., 9-7, 6,654, $3,650.
Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla./Lindsay Baker, Amherst, N.Y., 5-11, 6,654, $3,650.
12, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas/Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 6-10, 6,607, $3,500.
13, Steve Harman, Indianapolis/Missy Bellinder, Lake Forest, Calif., 5-11, 6,540, $3,400.
14, Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan./Elysia Current, Ephrata, Pa., 6-10, 6,478, $3,300.
15, Walter Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla./Stefanie Nation, Grand Prairie, Texas, 6-10, 6,462, $3,200.
16, Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y./Brenda Edwards, Mansfield, Texas, 4-12, 6,355, $3,100.