Defending Champ Bill O'Neill charges into Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open lead


    2010-11 PBA Tour #10

    Non-titlist Dan MacLelland joins four former U.S. Open champions in top five after three rounds


    201011PBA06BillONeill.jpgDefending champion Bill O'Neill of Southampton, Pa., charged into the third round lead in the 68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone-Carolier Thursday, hoping to turn a month of mourning into a week of celebration.

    O'Neill, who sat in fifth place after 12 games, fired games of 247, 214, 254, 266, 237 and 257 on the demanding U.S. Open lane condition during Thursday's third round to finish qualifying with 4,094 pins and a 103-pin lead over 2006 U.S. Open champion Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C.

    O'Neill, who won the Pepsi Viper Championship in October for his third career title, exercised his newly-discovered patience to advance into the lead.

    201011PBA01NormDuke.jpg201011PBA07DanMacLelland.jpg"There are a lot of guys here who can have a good day, but stringing them together is the hard part," O'Neill said. "I had a really good day. Whenever I hit the pocket, I struck, which is telling me my ball is doing the right thing.

    "Basically I used the same ball for this same squad last year (in Indianapolis)," he continued. "I'm very confident right now. Things have been going well. Now that I've been around for a few years, I'm starting to figure things out."

    Norm Duke (left) of Clermont, Fla., was in third place with 3,983 pins followed by Canadian citizen Dan MacLelland (right) of Saginaw, Mich., at 3,944, and Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, with 3,901 pins.

    201011PBA07ChrisBarnes.jpg201011PBA09MikaKoivuniemi.jpgDuke is the 2008 U.S. Open champion. Barnes (left) won the event in 2005. MacLelland, who is finishing his final year of college at Saginaw Valley State University, is trying for his first professional title.

    O'Neill admitted that he stumbled briefly Wednesday night when he started thinking about the recent death of his grandfather.

    "Last night the first couple of games were a little rough," he said. "My whole family was here. I started thinking about my grandfather who passed away the day we started bowling in the Tournament of Champions (in late January), so it was tough to get out of my own way for those couple of games. I was super close to my grandpop, so I'm trying not to think about him because I get a bit emotional. I'm trying to focus on my bowling, but I'm definitely dedicating this tournament to him."

    201011PBA10JasonBelmonte.jpg2010EBT16JuhaniTonteri.jpgThe international contingent is well represented in the casher's round. Joining MacLelland is Tournament of Champions winner Mika Koivuniemi (above right), a native Finn who lives in Hartland, Mich., in sixth place with 3,886, Andres Gomez, Colombia, who was tied for 13th with 3,849, and 16th place Jason Belmonte (left), Australia, with 3,838.

    Martin Larsen, Sweden, was 22nd with 3,803 and was followed by Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, in 29th with 3,777, Juhani Tonteri (right), Finland, in 33rd with 3,763 and Kevin Maurice, Canada, in 39th with 3,750.

    201011PBAStuartWilliams.jpg2009WUSORocioRestrepo3.jpgManuel Otalora, Colombia, was tied for 41st with 3,738, with PBA exempt player Stuart Williams (left), England, in 46th with 3,723. Patrick Girard, Canada, and Marcus Berndt, Sweden, were tied for 64th place with 3,684.

    Rocio Restrepo (right), Colombia, who was tied for 72nd place with 3,670 is one of only two women in the cashers' round (59th place Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., was the other with 3,695) and her compatriot Santiago Mejia, made the first cut in 79th place with 3,657.

    The field of 383 has been cut to the top 95 players for Friday morning's eight-game cashers' round. After the cashers' round, the top 24 will advance to the round-robin match play finals, bowling three eight-game rounds Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. ESPN2 will provide live coverage of Friday night's final two games of match play at 6 p.m. Eastern.

    2011PBAUSOpenLogo.jpgAfter a total of 50 games, the top six will advance to the stepladder finals which will begin with two matches live on ESPN2 Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern.

    The No. 5 qualifier will bowl against the No. 6 qualifier, with the winner taking on the No. 4 player. Saturday's winner will join the top three finalists for Sunday's championship round at 3 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. First prize in the final major championship of the 2010-11 PBA Tour season is $80,000.

    During U.S. Open week,'s Xtra Frame video streaming service is providing more than 70 hours of live coverage of qualifying and match play rounds.


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    68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open - Third Round after 18 games

    The top 95 players advance to the cashers' round

    Squad A (TUE @ 8 a.m., WED @ 6 p.m. and THU @ Noon)
    Squad B (TUE @ Noon, WED @ 8 a.m. and THU @ 6 p.m.)
    Squad C (TUE @ 6 p.m., WED @ Noon and THU @ 8 a.m.)

    (* = Non-Member Bowler)