U.S. Open title in 2010 capped breakthrough season for Bill O'Neill


    2010-11 PBA Tour #10

    68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open starts next Monday, Feb. 21

    201011PBA06BillONeill.jpgAfter earning Professional Bowlers Association Rookie of the Year honors in the 2005-06 season, defending Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open champion Bill O'Neill (pictured) became one of the most heralded young players on Tour. But for quite awhile one thing was missing from his resume: a PBA Tour title.

    While it would take four more seasons for the Southampton, Pa., resident to visit the winners circle, O'Neill never had any doubts he would eventually be a winner on the PBA Tour.

    "I had what I would call a couple of sub-par seasons after the Rookie of the Year season," O'Neill said, "And then I made seven shows in 2008-09 but even though I didn't win, I was still confident I could get it done. I think it was just a matter of me putting a lot of pressure on myself."

    200910PBA04BillONeillShannonPluhowsky.jpg200910PBA14BillONeill.jpgO'Neill finally got the monkey off his back when he won the 2009 PBA Chameleon Championship (pictured left with Women's Series winner Shannon Pluhowsky) during the inaugural PBA World Series of Bowling in Detroit. Later in the season he won the 67th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open i(pictured right in the green jacket and with the eagle trophy) n Indianapolis for his first major title, defeating defending champion Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, 267-207, in the title match.

    2011PBAUSOpenLogo_small.jpgThe 29-year-old O'Neill will defend his U.S. Open title against a field of more than 300 of the world's best professional and amateur players when the 68th edition of professional bowling's most demanding tournament returns to Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J., Feb. 22-27.

    "I was confident in every tournament I bowled that I could make TV shows, but I admit to feeling extra pressure when it came to bowling on TV," O'Neill continued. "When I won the Chameleon Championship (in 2009) it took that pressure off so when I made it back to television the next time, I was in a much more relaxed and confident frame of mind."

    201011PBA02BillONeill.jpgO'Neill has kept the momentum going this season, winning his third career title in the Pepsi Viper Championship (pictured left). He also has a runner-up finish in the PBA World Championship, a fourth-place finish in the Scorpion Championship and a ninth in the Tournament of Champions.

    Despite a 44th-place finish the last time the U.S. Open was held at Brunswick Zone Carolier (2009), O'Neill is looking forward to returning to a venue he is very familiar with going back to his days bowling in youth competition.

    "Generally I've been bowling well in majors and being relatively close to home, I'll have a lot of friends and family there for support," he said. "I'm very familiar with that center so I think I just need to keep doing what I've been doing and I'm hopeful of having a good tournament."

    As the 2010-11 season enters the homestretch, PBA Tournament of Champions winner Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., is the odds-on favorite for PBA Player of the Year honors, but O'Neill says there's still time for him to contend for the honor.

    "If you had to vote for someone right now, you have to go with Mika," O'Neill said. "But if I can win one of the three remaining events and finish the season strong I'll make a run at it."

    Bowling fans will be able to follow the U.S. Open from start to finish on pba.com's Xtra Frame video streaming service. More than 70 hours of live coverage of U.S. Open qualifying and match play will be aired on Xtra Frame.


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    History of U.S. Open winners

    2010 Bill O'Neill
    2009 Mike Scroggins
    2008 Norm Duke
    2007 Pete Weber
    2006 Tommy Jones
    2005 Chris Barnes
    2004 Pete Weber
    2003 Walter Ray Williams Jr.
    2002 No event
    2001 Mika Koivuniemi
    2000 Robert Smith
    1999 Bob Learn Jr.
    1998 Walter Ray Williams Jr.
    1997 no event
    1996 Dave Husted
    1995 Dave Husted
    1994 Justin Hromek
    1993 Del Ballard Jr.
    1992 Robert Lawrence
    1991 Pete Weber
    1990 Ron Palombi Jr.
    1989 Mike Aulby
    1988 Pete Weber
    1987 Del Ballard Jr.
    1986 Steve Cook
    1985 Marshall Holman
    1984 Mark Roth
    1983 Gary Dickinson
    1982 Dave Husted
    1981 Marshall Holman
    1980 Steve Martin
    1979 Joe Berardi
    1978 Nelson Burton Jr.
    1977 Johnny Petraglia
    1976 Paul Moser
    1975 Steve Neff
    1974 Larry Laub
    1973 Mike McGrath
    1972 Don Johnson
    1971 Mike Limongello


    BPAA ALL STAR (was converted to U.S. Open in 1971)

    1970 Bobby Cooper
    1969 Billy Hardwick
    1968 Jim Stefanich
    1967 Les Schissler
    1966 Dick Weber
    1965 Dick Weber
    1964 Bob Strampe
    1963 Dick Weber
    1962 Dick Weber
    1961 Bill Tucker
    1960 Harry Smith
    1959 Billy Welu
    1958 Don Carter
    1957 No event
    1956 Don Carter
    1955 Bill Lillard*
    1955 Steve Nagy
    1954 Don Carter
    1953 No event
    1952 Don Carter
    1951 Junie McMahon
    1950 Dick Hoover
    1949 Junie McMahon
    1948 Connie Schwoegler
    1947 Andy Varipapa
    1946 Andy Varipapa
    1945 Joe Wilman
    1944 Buddy Bomar
    1943 Ned Day
    1942 Connie Schwoegler
    1941 John Crimmons
    * Two All Stars were held in 1955