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Rhino Page wins 2017 U.S. Open for first PBA major title

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Rhino Page of Orlando, Florida, captured his first career major championship after defeating top seed Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, in the title match of the 2017 U.S. Open, 256-222.

Page struck on eight of his first nine deliveries during the championship round Wednesday at Flamingo Bowl in Liverpool, N.Y., winning his sixth career Professional Bowlers Association Tour title, the coveted green jacket and $30,000 top prize. The stepladder finals of the 2017 U.S. Open were broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

Page won his second consecutive title this season after ending a seven-year title slump with victory in the PBA Xtra Frame Kenn-Feld Classic.

“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” said Page, a 34-year-old left-hander. “As I looked down as I was holding the trophy, I almost started to cry. It means everything to me and makes me want to work even harder to win more.”

Page and Butturff matched each other shot for shot for the first five frames of the title match, but Butturff was unable to strike in the sixth and seventh frames, leaving and converting a pair of single pins.

Butturff, a 23-year-old left-hander, opened in the eighth frame after leaving the 4-6-10 split as Page continued to strike through the ninth frame. Page sealed the victory with an eight count on his first shot of the 10th frame.

A ball change in his semifinal win against 2013 U.S. Open champion Wes Malott gave Page the look he needed heading into the title match against Butturff, who averaged more than 223 throughout the week at Flamingo Bowl. Page defeated Malott, 226-155.

“I was going back and forth with two balls that were counter opposites,” Page said.

“One was a little faster off the friction, and the other was a little slower. It became evident in the fifth frame that maybe the ball I was using was just a little too slow, and I knew I had to find a way to strike with Jakob coming up.

“I was really happy with my ball reaction when I made the change, and that alone let me know I had everything in place. If something happened with ball motion, I knew where to go next, and that made me extremely confident.”

Butturff led the field after 56 games by 617 pins, including bonus pins, and he found a similar fate as several others who have held sizable leads heading into the title match. He earned $15,000 for the runner-up finish.

United States Bowling Congress and PBA Hall of Famer Earl Anthony led the 1979 and 1980 U.S. Open by 578 and 551 pins, respectively, only to finish as the runner-up, while two-time U.S. Open champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. led the 1993 event by 537 pins before falling in the title match.

“This was by far one of the best journeys I’ve had in my career,” said Butturff, a Team USA member who now will head to Hermosillo, Mexico, to represent the United States at the QubicaAMF World Cup.

“Second place at the end of the day is always the roughest, especially when you are leading a tournament by two games. At the same time, I put my foot down and I struck as much as I could this week. I bowled an OK game on TV, and Rhino just bowled a better game.”

Malott earned his spot in the semifinal after picking up a 2-10 split in the 10th frame to lock up his match against Canada’s Graham Fach, 186-179.

In Wednesday’s opening match, Fach rolled seven consecutive strikes on his way to a 259-222 win against USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida. Duke was in search of his 39th national title and third U.S. Open title, winning the green jacket in 2008 and 2011.

All competitors at the 2017 U.S. Open bowled 24 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 36 players advancing to the cashers’ round. After eight additional games, the field was cut to the top 24 players for round-robin match play.

The five finalists for the stepladder finals were determined by total pinfall, including bonus pins, for 56 games.

The U.S. Open is the fourth of five major championships on the 2017 PBA Tour schedule and is conducted jointly by the USBC and Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America.

Each round of the 2017 U.S. Open leading up to the stepladder finals was broadcast live on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the PBA.
For more information on the U.S. Open, click here.

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Pictured above from left: Jakob Butturff, Rhino Page, Wes Malott, Graham Fach and Norm Duke.

2017 U.S. Open

Flamingo Bowl in Liverpool, N.Y., United States (Oct. 25-Nov. 1, 2017)

Championship Round:
1. Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 482 (2 games), $30,000
2. Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 222 (1 game), $15,000
3. Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 341 (2 games), $12,000
4. Graham Fach, Canada, 438 (2 games), $10,000
5. Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 222 (1 game), $8,000

Playoff Results:
First Match: No. 4 Graham def. No. 5 Duke, 259-222
Second Match: No. 3 Malott def. Fach, 186-179
Semifinal Match: No. 2 Page def. Malott, 226-155
Championship: Page def. No. 1 Butturff, 256-222.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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