By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications
After 24 games of qualifying at three different Columbus-area bowling centers, only 93 players remain in contention at the 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open.
Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte overcame a couple of early hiccups in Wednesday's third round to increase his lead to 381 pins in the men's division with a 5,567 total, a 231.96 average. Defending champion Pete Weber is a distant second with 5,186, while collegiate standout AJ Johnson is third with 5,170.
"I've been pretty realistic about the difficulty of the lane condition, and even though I had two good days so far, I certainly haven't relaxed," said Belmonte, who had games of 164 and 145 on Wednesday but finished with 1,763 for his eight games. "I just didn't have a very good feel or look, and if I didn't hit the pocket, it was a split. I didn't let it get me down. I tried to fight back and find a good ball reaction and then take advantage of it."
On the women's side, two time U.S. Women's Open champion Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., moved into the top spot after spending the first two rounds behind defending champion Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J.
Johnson finished her 24 games with a 5,108 total, a 212.83 average. Kulick now is second with 5,038, and 2013 USBC Team USA Trials winner Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., is third with 4,984.
"You pretty much had to thread a needle to get to the spot today, and the lanes were pretty tough from pair to pair," said Johnson, who won the U.S. Women's Open in 1996 and 2007. "You really need the right ball and the right speed, but it's also about making shots and executing. I feel pretty good overall, though. I have been pretty consistent at all three centers, so I'm confident, but I also know there's still a long way to go."
The 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open started with nearly 400 of the best men and women bowlers in the world, competing side by side (in separate events) at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, Columbus Western Bowl and Holiday Lanes.
Following Wednesday's final qualifying round, the field was cut to the top 25 percent in each division (65 men and 28 women), who will return to the lanes at Columbus Bowl for the six-game cashers round Thursday morning at 8 a.m. EDT. The top 24 in each division after 30 games will advance to 24 games of round-robin match play beginning Thursday night. The final four in each division will advance to the TV finals.
"I understand the challenge and nature of this tournament, and I know it's not even halfway over, so I can't relax," said Belmonte, who finished third in last year's U.S. Open. "I have to continue to fight and knuckle down because there's still a lot of bowling left. I don't just want to depend on a really good start to carry me to the finals."
It took an average of 200.8 to make the cut on the men's side and 193.13 to make it through in the women's division.
The combined events have a prize fund of more than $400,000 and will culminate with the live two-hour ESPN finals on Saturday at noon EDT.
The men's and women's champions will face off in a special Battle of the Sexes match to crown the ultimate U.S. Open winner. The special match will be broadcast live on ESPN immediately following the men's and women's finals.
For more information on the U.S. Open, visit BowlingsUSOpen.com. Live streaming of qualifying and match play are being provided by the PBA's online bowling channel Xtra Frame.
VIDAD WINS SENIOR U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Paula Vidad of Sun City, Calif., defeated Lucy Sandelin of Tampa, Fla., 234-215, to win the 2013 Bowling's Senior U.S. Women's Open presented by BPAA and Storm.
Vidad stepped up in the final two frames and closed out the title match with four clutch strikes to lock up the victory at Sequoia Pro Bowl.
"It's amazing to win my second major title," said Vidad, who won the USBC Senior Queens in 2011. "We don't have a whole lot of tournaments for the senior women, so it's always special. There's nothing like winning a major and holding up that trophy."
Sandelin led the event throughout qualifying and match play leading up to the stepladder finals, but was unable to pick up the victory in the high-scoring finale. Sandelin also finished as the runner-up last year.
Vidad, who entered the stepladder as the second seed, easily won her semifinal match against Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colo., 238-177. Johnson took down Kristy Whitcher of Belfair, Wash., 178-147, in the opening match.
The Senior U.S. Women's Open was the second leg of the Senior Women's Triple Crown presented by The Orleans. The Triple Crown includes the National Golden Ladies Classic, won by Johnson in March, and the Senior Queens, which will take place at the International Bowling Campus from Oct. 24-29.
2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open
At Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, Columbus Western Bowl and Holiday Lanes
Wednesday's third-round standings (all cashers with hometown and pinfall): Complete results available at pba.com
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 5,567.
2, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 5,186.
3, Adam Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 5,170.
4, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 5,139.
5, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 5,116.
6, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 5,115.
7, Brett Wolfe, Tempe, Ariz., 5,102.
8, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 5,096.
9, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 5,086.
10, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 5,076.
11, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 5,064.
11, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 5,064.
13, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 5,063.
14, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 5,061.
15, Brian LeClair, Albany, N.Y., 5,055.
16, Michael Snell, Plattsmouth, Neb., 5,050.
17, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5,038.
18, Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich., 5,012.
19, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 5,011.
20, Stuart Williams, England, 5,008.
21, Chad Roberts, Westerville, Ohio, 4,997.
22, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 4,990.
23, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill., 4,984.
24, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 4,975.
25, Kip Roberts, Glen Allen, Va., 4,972.
26, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 4,969.
27, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 4,964.
28, Dom Barrett, England, 4,956.
29, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 4,953.
30, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, MI, 4,931.
31, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 4,923.
31, Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 4,923.
33, Dan Higgins Jr., Westerville, Ohio, 4,918.
34, Alejandro Reyna, Costa Rica, 4,910.
35, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 4,908.
36, John Szczerbinski, North Tonawanda, N.Y., 4,899.
37, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 4,897.
38, Kamron Doyle, Brentwood, Tenn., 4,896.
39, Bobby Bures, Mentor, Ohio, 4,894.
39, Todd Book, Russells Point, Ohio, 4,894.
41, Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., 4,893.
42, Craig LeMond, Jasper, Ind., 4,889.
43, Robert Smith, Las Vegas, 4,887.
43, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 4,887.
45, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 4,886.
46, Kimmo Lehtonen, Finland, 4,872.
47, Rick Miller, Lincoln, Neb., 4,871.
48, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 4,868.
49, Greg Young, Viera, Fla., 4,866.
50, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 4,863.
51, Kevin Andes, Wichita, Kan., 4,856.
52, Carleton Chambers, Detroit, 4,855.
53, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 4,851.
54, Patrick Girard, Canada, 4,849.
55, Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., 4,843.
56, Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, Kan., 4,834.
57, T.J. Schmidt, Mishawaka, Ind., 4,830.
57, Austin Boulds, Wichita, Kan., 4,830.
59, Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Chatsworth, Calif., 4,828.
60, A.J. Chapman, Manchester, Iowa, 4,825.
61, Alex Aguiar, N. Dartmouth, Mass., 4,823.
62, Miguel Lopez, Wichita, Kan., 4,809.
63, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 4,808.
64, Steven Smith, San Diego, 4,803.
65, Paul Bober, Morton Grove, Ill., 4,802.
1, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 5,108.
2, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 5,038.
3, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 4,984.
4, Rocio Restrepo, Colombia, 4,895.
5, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 4,877.
5, Josie Earnest, Vandalia, Ill., 4,877.
7, Ashly Galante, Palm Harbor, Fla., 4,863.
8, Leanne Hulsenberg, Roseville, Calif., 4,857.
9, Shannon O'Keefe, Arlington, Texas, 4,813.
10, Stefanie Nation, Grand Prairie, Texas, 4,810.
11, Jodi Woessner, Oregon, Ohio, 4,809.
12, Lindsay Boomershine, Brigham City, Utah, 4,808.
13, Jacqui Reese, Bangor, Pa., 4,789.
14, Kim Kearney, Grand Prairie, Texas, 4,785.
15, Sandra Andersson, Sweden, 4,783.
16, Krista Pollanen, Finland, 4,782.
17, Kim Yioulos, Rochester, N.Y., 4,776.
18, Brittni Hamilton, Webster, N.Y., 4,732.
19, Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 4,720.
20, Maria Rodriguez, Austin, Texas, 4,715.
21, Brenda Padilla, Mansfield, Texas, 4,707.
22, Lynda Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 4,701.
23, Aumi Guerra, Dominican Republic, 4,684.
24, Brandi Branka, Momence, Ill., 4,675.
25, Diandra Asbaty, Chicago, 4,650.
26, Caroline Lagrange, Canada, 4,649.
27, Tennelle Milligan, Arlington, Texas, 4,636.
28, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Keller, Texas, 4,635.