PBA Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open Title in 2010 Capped Breakthrough Season for Bill O’Neill

by Jerry Schneider February 16, 2011 03:49


After earning Professional Bowlers Association Rookie of the Year honors in the 2005-06 season, defending Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open champion Bill O’Neill became one of the most heralded young players on Tour. But for quite awhile one thing was missing from his resume: a PBA Tour title.

While it would take four more seasons for the Southampton, Pa., resident to visit the winners circle, O’Neill never had any doubts he would eventually be a winner on the PBA Tour.

“I had what I would call a couple of sub-par seasons after the Rookie of the Year season,” O’Neill said, “And then I made seven shows in 2008-09 but even though I didn’t win, I was still confident I could get it done. I think it was just a matter of me putting a lot of pressure on myself.”  

O’Neill finally got the monkey off his back when he won the 2009 PBA Chameleon Championship during the inaugural PBA World Series of Bowling in Detroit. Later in the season he won the 67th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open in Indianapolis for his first major title, defeating defending champion Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, 267-207, in the title match.

The 29-year-old O’Neill will defend his U.S. Open title against a field of more than 300 of the world’s best professional and amateur players when the 68th edition of professional bowling’s most demanding tournament returns to Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J., Feb. 22-27.

“I was confident in every tournament I bowled that I could make TV shows, but I admit to feeling extra pressure when it came to bowling on TV,” O’Neill continued. “When I won the Chameleon Championship (in 2009) it took that pressure off so when I made it back to television the next time, I was in a much more relaxed and confident frame of mind.”

O’Neill has kept the momentum going this season, winning his third career title in the Pepsi Viper Championship. He also has a runner-up finish in the PBA World Championship, a fourth-place finish in the Scorpion Championship and a ninth in the Tournament of Champions.

Despite a 44th-place finish the last time the U.S. Open was held at Brunswick Zone Carolier (2009), O’Neill is looking forward to returning to a venue he is very familiar with going back to his days bowling in youth competition.

“Generally I’ve been bowling well in majors and being relatively close to home, I’ll have a lot of friends and family there for support,” he said. “I’m very familiar with that center so I think I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing and I’m hopeful of having a good tournament.”

As the 2010-11 season enters the homestretch, PBA Tournament of Champions winner Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., is the odds-on favorite for PBA Player of the Year honors, but O’Neill says there’s still time for him to contend for the honor.

“If you had to vote for someone right now, you have to go with Mika,” O’Neill said. “But if I can win one of the three remaining events and finish the season strong I’ll make a run at it.”

Bowling fans will be able to follow the U.S. Open from start to finish on pba.com’s Xtra Frame video streaming service. More than 70 hours of live coverage of U.S. Open qualifying and match play will be aired on Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame logo.

2010    Bill O’Neill   
2009    Mike Scroggins
2008    Norm Duke    
2007    Pete Weber
2006    Tommy Jones
2005    Chris Barnes
2004    Pete Weber   
2003    Walter Ray Williams Jr.
2002    No event
2001    Mika Koivuniemi
2000    Robert Smith
1999    Bob Learn Jr.
1998    Walter Ray Williams Jr.
1997    no event
1996    Dave Husted
1995    Dave Husted
1994    Justin Hromek
1993    Del Ballard Jr.
1992    Robert Lawrence
1991    Pete Weber
1990    Ron Palombi Jr.
1989    Mike Aulby
1988    Pete Weber
1987    Del Ballard Jr.
1986    Steve Cook
1985    Marshall Holman
1984    Mark Roth
1983    Gary Dickinson
1982    Dave Husted
1981    Marshall Holman
1980    Steve Martin
1979    Joe Berardi
1978    Nelson Burton Jr.
1977    Johnny Petraglia
1976    Paul Moser
1975    Steve Neff
1974    Larry Laub
1973    Mike McGrath
1972    Don Johnson
1971    Mike Limongello

BPAA ALL STAR (was converted to U.S. Open in 1971)
1970    Bobby Cooper
1969    Billy Hardwick
1968    Jim Stefanich
1967    Les Schissler
1966    Dick Weber
1965    Dick Weber
1964    Bob Strampe
1963    Dick Weber
1962    Dick Weber
1961    Bill Tucker
1960    Harry Smith
1959    Billy Welu
1958    Don Carter
1957    No event
1956    Don Carter
1955    Bill Lillard*
1955    Steve Nagy   
1954    Don Carter   
1953    No event
1952    Don Carter   
1951    Junie McMahon   
1950    Dick Hoover
1949    Junie McMahon   
1948    Connie Schwoegler   
1947    Andy Varipapa
1946    Andy Varipapa
1945    Joe Wilman
1944    Buddy Bomar
1943    Ned Day
1942    Connie Schwoegler
1941    John Crimmons
  * Two All Stars were held in 1955   

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