Australia’s Jason Belmonte is through to the 2022 PBA USBC US Open final, while fellow countryman Sam Cooley has fallen agonisingly short.
Entering match play in third after a superb end to qualifying, Belmonte needed only to hold ground to ensure a finals spot. With a match play win record of only 50 per cent, it was his scoring that saw him progress.
He shot blocks of 1716, 1861 and 1755, for a total of 5332 (222.17 average). His second block proving the difference, as veteran Tommy Jones surged towards the last game. Jones’ 1885 and 1877 blocks to finish, almost securing him a spot. Belmonte clung onto the fifth and final spot for the TV show by 33 pins.
Fellow Australian Cooley did not finding the lanes quite so kind. Starting match play in 24th, he threw everything he had at the pins. Consistent with blocks of 1749, 1765 and 1786 (5300 / 220.83 average) and with a match play record of 17/6/1, he charged up the leader board.
The head start he had given his competitors post qualifying proved too much in the end, as he fell short by 164 pins in the ninth. His sub 200 average blocks in qualifying rounds two and four sure to be his focus as he rues a missed opportunity.
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The bowler to beat remains EJ Tackett. Solidifying top spot with blocks of 1757, 1920 and 1827 (5504 / 229.33 average), he gave no one else so much as a sniff all week. Completing match play a phenomenal 502 pins ahead of second after bonuses, the title is his to lose.
Tackett will need every bit of his form tomorrow in the final. As he hunts for his first major since the Tournament of Champions in 2017, the pressure will be all on him. With one match to win or lose it all, his opponent to be chosen by step ladder format. He will face off against one of Anthony Simonsen, AJ Johnson, Jake Peters or Belmonte in the title match.
Belmonte wont be able to rest on his PBA Players Championship form either. He still has plenty of work to do to claim major number 15. From the bottom rung, he will need to beat every player in the final to hoist the trophy.
The final will be held at Sunday 5pm (US EST).
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