Koivuniemi is one win away from his second U.S. Open title

    03/30/08

    2007-08 Denny's PBA Tour #21

    Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ (March 23-30, 2008)

    2007PBAMikaKoivuniemi.jpg Last year, Mika Koivuniemi got off to a strong start in the U.S. Open and faded at the end. He learned from his mistakes and is now one win away from his second U.S. Open crown.

    Koivuniemi went 17-7 in match play to earn the top seed for Sunday's stepladder finals in the 65th Denny's U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone Carolier, the fourth Major and final event of the Denny's Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour season.

    The eight-time titlist was in 65th after the first day and 63rd after the second day, but a ball change led to a 236.00 average the third day of qualifying, moving him up to eighth. He went 7-1 in each of the first two rounds of match play to take the lead, which he never relinquished.

    "I started off really poorly this week but I changed balls and I changed my release and that made the difference," Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) said. "I moved way left and never moved right. After that I bowled really well."

    Koivuniemi is the only bowler to win Majors for his first two career titles, capturing the 2000 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters and the 2001 U.S. Open. He's made three U.S. Open championship rounds since then and will look to become the sixth bowler to win the U.S. Open twice.

    "Like anyone else, this is the biggest tournament of the year for me," Koivuniemi said. "If you can choose any event to win, this is it. The format, the number of games, the amount of bowlers. There's so much traffic on the lanes those first couple of days you just have to find a way to survive somehow. Then it's a new tournament in match play. I won a lot of close matches and that was the key. Last year I started well and died in the matches so I guess I learned from that."

    2007PBADougKent_small.jpg 2007PBANormDuke_small.jpg As the top seed, Koivuniemi earned an automatic berth in the title match. The first match features 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year Doug Kent (left; Newark, N.Y.) taking on last year's Player of the Year runner-up, Norm Duke (right). After winning two Majors last season, Kent has struggled in 2007-08 and is making his first championship round of the season.

    Duke, meanwhile, will look to equal Kent's accomplishment last year by becoming the seventh bowler to win two Majors in a season. He captured the Denny's World Championship a month ago for his third career Major. A win Sunday would make Duke just the fifth bowler in history to win the PBA's Triple Crown, a win in the World Championship, Tournament of Champions and U.S. Open.

    2007PBAChrisLoschetter_small.jpg The winner of that match will face No. 2 Chris Loschetter (left), who doubled in the 10th frame of the position round to defeat Kent and go around Duke in the standings. Loschetter, who equaled Koivuniemi's 17-7 record, will look to become the fifth player in history to win the U.S. Open for his first career Denny's PBA Tour title.

    Sunday's live ESPN-televised championship round gets underway at 2 p.m. ET. The winner will take home $100,000 and a three-year Denny's PBA Tour exemption.


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    Match Play Round 3 (seventh round overall)


    Players with position, hometown, match play record, 51-game pinfall. Pinfall includes 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 bonus pins for each tie. Top four advance. Positions 5-24 cash.

    1, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 17-7-0, 11,308
    2, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 17-7-0, 11,210
    3, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 13-11-0, 11,195
    4, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 14-10-0, 11,156

    Missed Cut:
    5, Wes Malott, Argyle, Texas, 14-10-0, 11,119, $9,000
    6, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 12-12-0, 11,056, $7,500
    7, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 13-11-0, 11,022, $6,200
    8, Shannon Buchan, Waterloo, Iowa, 13-10-1, 11,011, $5,300
    9, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 14-10-0, 10,983, $4,500
    10, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 14-10-0, 10,966, $4,000
    11, Jason Belmonte, Orange, NSW, Australia, 14-10-0, 10,920, $3,800
    12, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 10-13-1, 10,912, $3,600
    13, Bill O'Neill, Levittown, Pa., 13-11-0, 10,909, $3,400
    14, Jeff Lizzi, Sandusky, Ohio, 11-13-0, 10,824, $3,200
    15, Mark Clark, Naperville, Ill., 11-12-1, 10,813, $3,000
    16, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 10-14-0, 10,809, $2,800
    17, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 9-13-2, 10,790, $2,700
    18, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 11-13-0, 10,758, $2,600
    19, Mike Rose Jr., Rochester, N.Y., 8-16-0, 10,727, $2,550
    20, Todd Book, Cantonment, Fla., 9-15-0, 10,715, $2,475
    20, David O'Sullivan, Orlando, Fla., 8-16-0, 10,715, $2,475
    22, Tom Baker, King, N.C., 10-14-0, 10,699, $2,400
    23, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 10-13-1, 10,632, $2,350
    24, John Nolen, Waterford, Mich., 10-14-0, 10,525, $2,300

    300 games – None


    Match Play Round 2 (sixth round overall)


    Players with position, hometown, match play record, 43-game pinfall. Pinfall includes 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 bonus pins for each tie.

    1, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 14-2-0, 9,641
    2, Shannon Buchan, Waterloo, Iowa, 11-5-0, 9,428
    3, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 10-6-0, 9,402
    4, Wes Malott, Argyle, Texas, 10-6-0, 9,398
    5, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 10-6-0, 9,394
    6, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 8-8-0, 9,362
    7, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 7-8-1, 9,312
    8, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 11-5-0, 9,290
    9, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 8-8-0, 9,214
    10, Bill O'Neill, Levittown, Pa., 9-7-0, 9,187
    11, Jason Belmonte, Orange, NSW, Australia, 10-6-0, 9,167
    12, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 8-8-0, 9,102
    13, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7-9-0, 9,101
    14, Mark Clark, Naperville, Ill., 7-9-0, 9,079
    15, Mike Rose Jr., Rochester, N.Y., 6-10-0, 9,065
    16, David O'Sullivan, Orlando, Fla., 6-10-0, 9,057
    17, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 6-9-1, 9,056
    18, Tom Baker, King, N.C., 7-9-0, 9,036
    19, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 7-9-0, 9,019
    20, Jeff Lizzi, Sandusky, Ohio, 7-9-0, 9,010
    21, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 8-8-0, 8,986
    22, Todd Book, Cantonment, Fla., 5-11-0, 8,899
    23, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 3-13-0, 8,872
    24, John Nolen, Waterford, Mich., 6-10-0, 8,829


    300 games – None.