Chris Barnes eyes run at Player of the Year after taking first round qualifying lead in U.S. Open


    2008-09 PBA Tour #20

    Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ, United States (March 29 - April 5, 2009)

    ImageBecause of his recent success on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour, reigning Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year Chris Barnes (pictured left) can still defend his title but he'll need a little help for it to happen.

    Barnes had a 1,394 six-game pinfall (232.33 average) to lead a 415-player field of the sport's top professional and amateur bowlers after first-round qualifying Tuesday in the 66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone Carolier.

    200809PBAWesMalott.jpgWith the U.S. Open being the final event of the 2008-09 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season, Wes Malott (right)of Pflugerville, Texas, who has won three titles this season, is the front runner to win PBA Player of the Year honors. Malott is currently in 42nd place after first-round qualifying with a 1,253 six-game pinfall.

    Barnes had made five television finals appearances this season without a title but then broke through by winning back-to-back events in March.

    200809PBA13NormDuke2.jpgBarnes and defending U.S. Open champion and Hall of Famer Norm Duke (left) of Clermont, Fla., who is currently fourth after the first round with a 1,365 pinfall, are the only players who can challenge Malott for the title. Both Barnes and Duke must win to have any chance of earning Player of the Year honors.

    "I'm bowling as well now as I have all season," Barnes said. "My sole intention is to win this tournament and force Wes to do whatever he needs to do."

    As one of the most demanding events—mentally and physically—in professional bowling, the entire field will bowl additional six-game qualifying rounds Wednesday and Thursday after which the field will be cut to the top 25 percent for another nine-game round on Friday. The top 24 after 27 games will advance to round-robin match play which concludes on Saturday. The top five players will advance to the live, two-hour ESPN-televised stepladder finals on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

    200809PBAPeteWeber.jpg"In a tournament like this you have to take advantage of a big block (qualifying round)," said the 39-year-old Barnes of Double Oak, Texas. "With a long format it's better to hang on to pins rather than chase them. It's so hard to get through the three days of qualifying that you can't get too far behind and then feel you have to press."

    Hall of Famer Pete Weber (right) of St. Ann, Mo., hoping to become the U.S. Open's first five-time winner, was in eighth place after Tuesday's first-round qualifying with a 1,348 pinfall. Weber currently holds the record of four U.S. Open wins with his dad, Dick Weber, and Don Carter.

    As a major with a challenging format, the U.S. Open is contested on a U.S. Open lane conditioning pattern, which is considered to be the toughest in professional bowling. Adding to the pressure will be a $100,000 first prize, a three-year PBA Tour exemption and Grand Slam points which will impact players trying to qualify for the GEICO PBA Team Shootout hosted by Six Flags in June.

    66th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open - Round 1 Qualifying