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Australia’s Jason Belmonte tops PBA Detroit Open field


Australia’s Jason Belmonte, trying to energize his bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive PBA Player of the Year title, qualified No. 1 for the PBA Detroit Open finals at historic Thunderbowl Lanes Thursday to cap a four-event qualifying series with his third chance to win his first 2016 title.

Belmonte, who failed to qualify among the top 12 in the Bear Open on Tuesday, had a solid six-game round on the flat 41-foot Bear pattern Thursday afternoon to take the lead and he maintained his pace throughout the Badger qualifying round Thursday night to lock up his 10th television appearance in the four-year history of the PBA Fall/Summer Swing.

From left, Jason Belmonte, Sean Rash, Wes Malott,Tom Daugherty and E.J. Tackett.

The 33-year-old two-handed star qualified earlier in the week for the PBA Wolf and Badger Open finals.

Belmonte finished the 36-game Detroit Open qualifying phase, bowled in three 12-game blocks on the PBA’s Wolf, Bear and Badger oiling patterns, with a 229.9 average for an 8,277 pinfall total.

Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., qualified second with 8,100 pins followed by Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, at 8,078; E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., at 7,953 and Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., with 7,927 pins.

Daugherty, who entered the day in 14th place, completed his charge to the stepladder finals with a 268 final game to win a battle with Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y.; Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., and Canada’s Francois Lavoie for the final berth in the stepladder finals.

“It’s always fun when more pins fall for you than anyone else,” Belmonte said. “I always set a very high standard for myself and the beginning of this year was good, but I’m here to win.

That’s the goal I set, and when you’re not at your best, that’s the frustrating part. So for the past few months, I’ve worked very hard to lose a few kilos, become extremely focused on my spare game and it’s paying off.

“I don’t want to be second, ever, so I’m going to work harder than anyone else to get to the top again.”

With his high-revolution game, Belmonte has historically struggled on the shorter lane oiling patterns, including the 32-foot Wolf pattern, the shortest application of oil in PBA Tour competition. So when he qualified for the CBS Sports Network finals in the Wolf Open on Monday, he had a good feeling.

“I was happy with my short oil game. I wanted to make good shots on it, and that’s exactly what I did,” the 12-time PBA Tour titlist said. “I decided to be very aggressive and if I threw the ball in the gutter, it fell in, and it didn’t bother me. That helped my confidence.

“I always feel if I have enough games, I can make it to the TV show,” he added. “The more games I have, the better the chance I have to catch the leaders. Or, in this case, to stay in front.”

The CBS Sports Network stepladder finals of the PBA Wolf Open will be conducted Saturday at 11 a.m. for airing on Sept. 21; the Bear Open finals will be conducted at 2:30 p.m. for airing on Sept. 28; the Badger Open finals will be contested at 5:15 p.m. for airing on Oct. 5; the Detroit Open finals will be bowled at noon Sunday for airing on Oct. 12, and the King of the Swing – featuring the four previous title winners plus the leading player in Fall Swing points without a title – will be held at 3:30 p.m. for airing on Oct. 19.

All CBS Sports Network shows air at 9 p.m. All times are Eastern.

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2016 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions

PBA Detroit Open – Final Qualifying Standings

Players with position, hometown and 36-game total; top 5 advance to the stepladder finals Sunday at noon ET; finals air on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 9 p.m. ET

1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 8,277
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 8,096
3, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 8,083
4, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 7,967
5, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 7,945

Missed Cut:
6, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 7,926, $3,500
7, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 7,908, $3,200
8, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 7,897, $3,000
9, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 7,874, $2,800
10, Kristopher Prather, Milton, Fla., 7,835, $2,600
11, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 7,818, $2,400
12, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 7,745, $2,200
13, Jason Sterner, Cocoa, Fla., 7,720, $2,100
14, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 7,711, $1,900
15, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 7,705, $1,800
16, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7,697, $1,700
17, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7,673, $1,600
18, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 7,630, $1,500

300 games – none.

Herbert Bickel

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