MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Australia’s Jason Belmonte finished with a string of seven strikes to rally past Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, 235-211, and capture his seventh Professional Bowlers Association Tour title in the Lucas Oil PBA Bear Open at AMF Bowlero.
The third of five GEICO PBA Summer Swing presented by Lucas Oil telecasts aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.
Belmonte, who failed to convert the 2-4 in the second frame, trailed Barnes by nine pins in the fifth frame, but reeled off seven straight strikes to overtake Barnes for the title and a berth in the GEICO Summer King of the Swing special event that will conclude the Milwaukee summer series.
“I just needed to calm down,” the 29-year-old two-handed power player said. “I think I came out of the gate pressing a little, trying to get an early lead. (Barnes) opened a couple of times, and I thought that would be my chance to jump on him, but I threw the ball a little too quick.
“After he started to strike, I could see his ball motion was much slower than mine, so I said, you know what – he’s moved left and slowed down a little bit, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do, too. Once I let the ball do its thing, it looked amazing going through the pins. It looked like if there were 20 pins down there, it would have struck.”
It was the second time Belmonte has met Barnes in a title match, and his second win. He also defeated Barnes for the 2011 Shark Open title during the PBA World Series of Bowling III in Las Vegas, 243-213.
“Chris Barnes, in my opinion, is one of the greatest bowlers on the planet for the last five years,” Belmonte said. “It makes the win just a little more important for me.
“I enjoy playing against guys like Chris,” Belmonte added. “You want to walk off the lanes feeling like you’ve beaten the ultimate. It’s very rewarding.”
The Bear Open was contested on a flat 40-foot lane conditioning pattern, a scoring environment similar to the U.S. Open which is traditionally the most challenging event in PBA Tour competition.
With his second title of the 2012-13 season, Belmonte has established himself as a leading contender in the PBA Player of the Year race. He won the United States Bowling Congress Masters earlier in the season, and also finished second in two other major championships, the PBA World Championship and Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions.
“Player of the Year is on my radar, but it’s a little dot that is very faint and very far away at this point,” he said. “There’s still a lot of bowling left, including the U.S. Open and the entire World Series of Bowling this fall. Anything can happen. After being so close last year (Belmonte finished second in Player of the Year voting to Sean Rash), I’m certainly not going to count my chickens before they hatch. If I win the U.S. Open and a couple of times at the World Series, I’ll put it beyond doubt and relax a little.”
Canada’s Dan MacLelland, bidding for his first PBA Tour title, started the Bear Open finals with a 197-169 victory over 2011 USBC Masters winner Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa, and eliminated newly-crowned Wolf Open champ Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, 223-200, in the second match. Barnes ended MacLelland’s bid to become the third consecutive first-time titlist – and first Canadian ever to win a PBA Tour title – in the semifinal match, 214-187.
The finals of the Lucas Oil Milwaukee Open, the fourth event in the GEICO PBA Summer Swing series, will air next Tuesday, July 2, at 7 p.m. ET. The qualifying rounds of the Badger, Wolf and Bear Opens determined the players who advanced to the match play finals of the Milwaukee Open at AMF Bowlero. Match play rounds were contested on the Bear, Wolf and Badger lane conditions. Advancing to the stepladder finals after a total of 59 games were top qualifier Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas; Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo.; Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla.; Mike Fagan of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga.
“Encore” presentations of the Bear Open will air on CBS Sports Network Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and Saturday, July 6, at 3 p.m. ET.
To find CBS Sports Network in your home market, visit: http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder. Summer Swing finals also will be available on a delayed basis on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel one week after the original air date.
LUCAS OIL BEAR OPEN
AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis.
Final Standings: 1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $8,000. 2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $5,000. 3, Dan MacLelland, Canada, $4,000. 4, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, $3,000. 5, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, $2,000.
Stepladder Results: Match One – MacLelland def. Hess, 197-169. Match Two – MacLelland def. Loschetter, 223-200. Semifinal Match – Barnes def. MacLelland, 214-187. Championship – Belmonte def. Barnes, 235-211.