INDIANAPOLIS - Woodland Bowl has played a big role in the history of the Professional Bowlers Association and forever will be a special place for eight-time PBA Tour champion Anthony Simonsen of Las Vegas.
The 25-year-old two-hander is back at the iconic center, where he became the youngest bowler to win a major title on the PBA Tour, and this week's visit for the 2022 U.S. Open could end with both redemption and another spot in the bowling record book.
Simonsen's last game on the U.S. Open stage was a title-match loss to Australia's Jason Belmonte at the 2020 event, and since he did not compete in the 2021 tournament, Simonsen has had to wait almost two years for another chance to add the coveted green U.S. Open jacket to his own wardrobe.
Simonsen has picked up right where he left off, and while he's a long way from reclaiming the No. 1 seed for the event's televised finals, finishing the first day of qualifying at Woodland Bowl as the overall leader provided a nice boost to his confidence and some reassurance that his game is where it should be.
Over eight games Tuesday on the first of the week's four lane conditions, Simonsen averaged more than 226 and topped the 108-player standings with a 1,810 total.
He was followed by EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Indiana (1,793), Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan (1,761), Australia's Sam Cooley (1,748) and Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Florida, (1,739).
Defending champion Chris Via of Blacklick, Ohio, finished the first day of qualifying in 25th place with a 1,666 total, a 208.25 average.
The U.S. Open is the second event, and second major of the 2022 PBA Tour season, which got underway in late January with the PBA Players Championship. Belmonte kicked things off in memorable fashion with his record 14th major victory.
The event went well for Simonsen, who collected a seventh-place finish in the West Region qualifier, but he also felt it could've gone better.
"I felt like at the Players Championship, I didn't bowl my best, but it also wasn't my worst, so there's some good momentum there," said Simonsen, who won the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Masters at Woodland Bowl at 19 years and 39 days old. "Getting out to a strong start today was big for my confidence and showing me that I'm not bowling badly, I just didn't have the best day there."
On the 45-foot oil pattern Tuesday at Woodland Bowl, one key was not missing any makeable spares. Filling frames always is a goal, of course, but when the conditions are as demanding as they traditionally are at the U.S. Open, it's even more imperative.
This week, the competitors will face a variety of conditions ranging from 37 to 45 feet.
All rounds of qualifying and match play are being broadcast live at BowlTV.com, and the event will conclude with a five-player stepladder live on FS1 on Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern.
"The goal is to win them all, and this event is one of the most prestigious there is," Simonsen said. "I've had some success at previous U.S. Opens, and it's about continuing to put the pieces together. I wouldn't change how it all has unfolded for me, and I'll continue pushing. I'm going to take it one day and one block at a time. I think we'll see some fluctuation in the scoring pace on Day 2 and Day 3, so I'll take a look at how the rest of the field is handling it, then go about my business from there."
Adding to the prestige at Woodland Bowl is the fact that anyone who wins a PBA Tour event there will have a replica of their PBA champion banner permanently added to the rafters in the center's lounge area.
Among the names are five-time U.S. Open champion Pete Weber, the PBA Tour's all-time winningest player, Walter Ray Williams Jr., two-time U.S. Open winner Norm Duke and David Husted, who was the last bowler to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. It happened at the 1996 event, which took place at Woodland Bowl.
"It's really cool to see all of the banners for the guys who have won here, and being here just has a major feel to it that I didn't really get at the Players Championship," Simonsen said. "I didn't really feel the nerves at that event, but as I bowled the first two games today, my heartrate was really high because it has that major feel. That helps me because I love that feeling. I'm ready to get settled in, get through tomorrow and keep the momentum going the rest of the week."
Tackett echoed Simonsen's sentiments about Woodland Bowl, and his own feelings may even be magnified as a resident of Indiana, competing less than two hours from his current home.
Tackett is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Midwest Region Finals at the PBA Players Championship and feels like his game also is in a good place as the 2022 season gets rolling.
Adding to his motivation this week is remembering the feelings of just missing the winner's circle at Woodland Bowl in 2020. He and Marshall Kent were the runners-up to Jesper Svensson and Kyle Troup in the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship.
"Finishing second was heartbreaking because I want more than anything to win a tournament here and have my banner hanging in the bar area," said Tackett, a 14-time PBA Tour champion. "It's just one of those nostalgic things in our sport. There's so much history here, since the tour has been coming here for decades. Anytime I show up, I really want to perform well, and that may have added a little pressure in the past. I'm more experienced now, so I'm just going to go out and bowl and hope it goes in my favor. Today was a great start."
Competition at the 2022 U.S. Open will continue Wednesday with the second of the three qualifying rounds, this time on a flat 37-foot oil pattern. The action will get underway at 8 a.m. EST, live on BowlTV.
All 108 entrants will bowl 24 games over three days, before the field is cut to the top 36 for the eight-game Cashers' Round on a fourth oil pattern. After 32 games, total pinfall will determine the 24 bowlers for round-robin match play, and 56-game totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, will determine Sunday's finalists.
This year's champion will take home a $100,000 top prize, the custom U.S. Open trophy and the green jacket. The last time the event awarded a six-figure prize to the champion was 2009.
If Simonsen is able to add to his success at Woodland Bowl with a win this week, he'd become the youngest bowler in history to win three major titles. His second major championship came at the PBA Players Championship in 2019.
USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Dave Davis holds the record. He won his third major at 25 years and 43 days old. Simonsen will be 25 years and 31 days old on Sunday.
The field this week in Indianapolis is made of up the sport's top performers in recent seasons. It includes the leaders on the PBA Tour points list, Team USA and Junior Team members, top performers at USBC events and PBA majors, and those who advanced from an on-site pre-tournament qualifier earlier Sunday.
The 2022 U.S. Open is a collaborative effort between USBC and the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America. The total prize fund for the event will be $282,000.
For more information about the U.S. Open, visit BOWL.com/USOpen.
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2022 U.S. Open
At Woodland Bowl
ROUND 1 QUALIFYING
1, Anthony Simonsen, Las Vegas, 1,810. 2, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 1,793. 3, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 1,761. 4, Sam Cooley, Australia, 1,748. 5, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 1,739. 6, Daniel Farish, Louisville, Ky., 1,733.
7, Benjamin Martinez, Mexico, 1,732. 8(tie), Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., and Brent Boho, Indianapolis, 1,727. 10, Wes Malott, Fort Wayne, Ind., 1,709. 11(tie), Jason Belmonte, Australia, and Jason Sterner, Rochester, N.Y., 1,700.
13, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 1,697. 14(tie), Zach Wilkins, Canada, Francois Lavoie, Wichita, Kan., and Kim Bolleby, Sweden, 1,692. 17, Tyrell Ingalls (a), Loganville, Ga., 1,690. 18, Brad Miller, Lee's Summit, Mo., 1,689.
19(tie), Chad Roberts (a), Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and Nathan Ruest-Lajoie (a), Canada, 1,684. 21, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 1,682. 22, Michael Davidson, Versailles, Ohio, 1,679. 23, Dominic Barrett, England, 1,670. 24, Ryan Ciminelli, Lancaster, S.C., 1,668.
25, Chris Via, Blacklick, Ohio, 1,666. 26, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 1,664. 27, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 1,661. 28, Matthew Sanders (a), Evansville, Ind., 1,655. 29(tie), Patrick Hanrahan, Wichita, Kan., and DJ Archer, Houston, 1,654.
31(tie), Mitch Hupé, Lockport, Ill., and Wesley Low Jr., Palmdale, Calif., 1,651. 33, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 1,649. 34, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 1,648. 35, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 1,645. 36, David Stouffer (a), Lehigh Acres, Fla., 1,643.
37, Richard Teece, England, 1,641. 38(tie), Matthew Zweig, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Perry Crowell IV (a), St. Clair Shores, Mich., 1,636. 40, Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1,635. 41, Arturo Quintero, Mexico, 1,634. 42, Dan Higgins (a), Lewis Center, Ohio, 1,632.
43, Toby Sambueno, Las Vegas, 1,630. 44, Maria José Rodriguez, Colombia, 1,628. 45(tie), Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., and Cristian Azcona, Clermont, Fla., 1,625. 47, Brandon Caruso (a), Channahon, Ill., 1,623. 48, Nathan Bohr, Round Rock, Texas, 1,620.
49, Richard Allen, Lexington, S.C., 1,619. 50, Spencer Robarge (a), Springfield, Mo., 1,612. 51, Franklin Snodgrass (a), Sterling Heights, Mich., 1,608. 52, Michael Tang, Pickerington, Ohio, 1,603. 53, Kristopher Prather, Romeoville, Ill., 1,602. 54, Matthew Kuba, Tinley Park, Ill., 1,601.
55(tie), Shawn Maldonado, Sugarland, Texas, and Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 1,598. 57, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 1,597. 58, Matt Ogle, Louisville, Ky., 1,596. 59, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 1,587. 60(tie), AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., Zeke Bayt, Westerville, Ohio, and Thomas Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 1,583.
63, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 1,580. 64(tie), Thomas Larsen, Denmark, and Michael Moore, Orlando, Fla., 1,576. 66, Zac Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 1,575.
67(tie), Bryan Hahlen (a), Greenwood, S.C., Kyle Sherman, O'Fallon, Mo., and Ryan Mouw (a), Muskegon, Mich., 1,574. 70, Brenden Sramek, Bettendorf, Iowa, 1,573. 71, Stuart Williams, Pflugerville, Texas, 1,570. 72, Darren Tang, Las Vegas, 1,566.
73, Michael Martell, West Babylon, N.Y., 1,564. 74, Kevin McCune, Munster, Ind., 1,563. 75, Keven Williams, Battlefield, Mo., 1,559. 76, Christopher Sloan, Ireland, 1,552. 77, Zach Weidman, Indianapolis, 1,545. 78, Timothy Foy Jr., Seaford, Del., 1,543.
79, Charlie Brown Jr., Grandville, Mich., 1,542. 80, Anthony Neuer, Milton, Pa., 1,539. 81, Nolan White (a), Carlisle, Ohio, 1,536. 82(tie), Brandon Runk, Milton, Pa., Brian Hall, Macedon, N.Y., and Chris Barnes, Denton, Texas, 1,535.
85(tie), Briley Haugh (a), Faribault, Minn., and Deo Benard, Keller, Texas, 1,533. 87, Solomon Salama (a), Beverly Hills, Calif., 1,331. 88, Trevor Roberts, Tampa, Fla., 1,521. 89, Jillian Martin (n), Stow, Ohio, 1,511. 90, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 1,510.
91, Timothy Gruendler, St. Louis, 1,508. 92, Benjamin Sobel (a), Columbus, Ohio, 1,505. 93, Blake Demore, Springfield, Mo., 1,504. 94, Brandon Roscoe, Bradenton, Fla., 1,503. 95, Bailey Mavrick, Peru, Ind., 1,500. 96, Alec Keplinger (a), Coldwater, Mich., 1,495.
97, Graham Fach, Canada, 1,484. 98, Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, 1,480. 99, Tom Hess, Granger, Iowa, 1,479. 100, Matt Russo, Fairview Heights, Ill., 1,476. 101, BJ Moore, Greensburg, Pa., 1,475. 102, Peyton Smith (a), Loganville, Ga., 1,472.
103, Zachary Doty (a), Nassau, N.Y., 1,468. 104, Cerell Cardines (a), Las Vegas, 1,444. 105, AJ Chapman, Lewisville, Texas, 1,443. 106, Tim Stampe (a), Denmark, 1,418. 107, Joey Ocello (a), Neptune, N.J., 1,400. 108, Ryan Stubblefield (a), St. Charles, Mo., 1,399.