By Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications
Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, each claimed titles at the 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open on Saturday at Columbus Western Bowl.
The win marked the third U.S. Women's Open title for Johnson and first major victory for Malott, who now owns eight PBA Tour titles.
Johnson and Malott each earned $50,000 for winning their respective events and set up a special Battle of the Sexes match to crown the ultimate U.S. Open champion. Johnson earned an additional $10,000 by defeating Malott, 194-188.
"It's still going to take some time to process all of this," Johnson said. "Coming into the week, I felt really strong physically and mentally prepared for sure, and it's nice to have so much support from my family and friends."
Johnson, a 39-year-old right-hander, opened the U.S. Women's Open championship match with six consecutive strikes on the way to a 257-195 win over defending champion and top seed Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J. The two now are tied for second on the event's all-time win list with three victories apiece.
"I am so fortunate to be part of such an elite group," said Johnson, who also won the U.S. Women's Open in 1996 and 2007. "I am so proud of this week, and I can't believe this is my third title here. To win this week, after such a grind in three different centers, is amazing."
Malott, who lost to Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte in the championship match of the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Masters, got redemption and the coveted U.S. Open green jacket by defeating Belmonte, 214-156, on Saturday.
"The biggest thing I wanted to put on my resume was a major title," said Malott, who struck on 22 of 34 shots in three matches. "I've been close so many times, and especially close at the Masters after bowling really, really well there all week."
Surgery on his left knee kept Malott from the recent PBA GEICO Summer Swing in the Milwaukee area, and the grueling U.S. Open format was a true physical test for this year's PBA Tour average leader.
"This is the most prestigious tournament in our sport, I think, because of the demanding lane conditions and all of the pressure, and I don't even know that it's all sunk in yet," said Malott, a 36-year-old right-hander. "It's awesome."
Belmonte led the 54-game event from the first game of the week and by as many as 449 pins. He has reached the championship round at seven of the last eight PBA Tour majors and also had runner-up finishes at this year's PBA World Championship and Barbasol Tournament of Champions.
Kulick has been the No. 1 seed at the U.S. Women's Open three consecutive times, with wins in 2010 and 2012. She won the event for the first time in 2003. USBC Hall of Famer Marion Ladewig owns a record eight U.S. Women's Open victories.
Johnson topped her Team USA teammate Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., 227-202, for a shot at her third U.S. Women's Open crown, while Malott set up the Masters rematch with a 279-182 win against five-time U.S. Open champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo.
"After winning the U.S. Open, the rest is just icing on the cake," Johnson said. "To be in that position to bowl in the Battle of the Sexes was a fun bonus, and it was pretty awesome that I was able to win."
In the men's opening match, Team USA member Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash, stepped up in the ninth frame with a chance to shut out Malott. Kent left and missed the 2-4-5-8 combination, allowing Malott to seal the 200-193 win with a mark in the 10th frame.
Reigning USBC Queens champion Diandra Asbaty of Chicago led halfway through the women's opener, but back-to-back opens in the sixth and seventh frames helped McEwan to a 192-171 victory.
The 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open included the best men and women bowlers in the world, competing side by side (in separate events) at three Columbus-area bowling centers - Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, Columbus Western Bowl and Holiday Lanes. The combined U.S. Open events featured a prize fund of more than $400,000.
2013 LIPTON BOWLING'S U.S. OPEN
Columbus Western Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Saturday
Men's final standings
1, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 693 (three games), $50,000
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 156 (one game), $25,000
3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 182 (one game), $15,000
4, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 193 (one game), $12,500
Match One - Malott def. Kent, 200-193
Match Two - Malott def. Weber, 279-182
Championship - Malott def. Belmonte, 214-156
Women's final standings
1, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 484 (two games), $50,000
2, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 195 (one game), $25,000
3, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 394 (two games), $15,000
4, Diandra Asbaty, Chicago, 171 (one game), $12,500
Match One - McEwan def. Asbaty, 192-171
Match Two - Johnson def. McEwan, 227-202
Championship - Johnson def. Kulick, 257-195
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Johnson def. Malott, 194-188 (Johnson wins $10,000)