By Terry Bigham
GARLAND, Texas – Top qualifier Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, New York, captured his first major title by winning the final match at the Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open on Sunday.
Ciminelli, who led the field by 461 pins to earn the top spot in the stepladder finals, held off Dominic Barrett of Colchester, England, 236-223, in the title match at AMF Garland Lanes.
“I thought I would get a major eventually in my career, but never in a million years did I think it would be the U.S. Open, especially the first one,” said Ciminelli, who was making his fifth TV show appearance in a major. “I said it before and I’ll say it again, I just don’t believe it.”
Holding a four-pin lead heading into the final frame, Ciminelli knew he needed the first two strikes to close out Barrett, the No. 4 seed who had won three matches to reach the final.
“I was just focused on one shot at a time, not looking at the eagle, not looking at the jacket, and just bowling the best game I could bowl,” said Ciminelli, the only left-hander in the field to reach the 24-player cut to match play. “When I needed those two in the 10th to lock him out, I knew I couldn’t give him a chance. Both of our looks were good and then I would have had to rely on a bad break or something. I wasn’t OK with that. I wanted to win on the approach and not sitting down.”
Barrett had taken out the defending champion and two hall of famers to reach the title match.
“I bowled really well this week and almost made the most of it,” Barrett said. “Ryan is a very deserving champion. He ran away with the lead and he did deserve to win.”
In the semifinal match, Barrett slipped past five-time U.S. Open champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Missouri, 218-200. After failing to convert a 3-4 split in the sixth, Weber struck in the seventh and eighth to have a chance but then left back-to-back 10 pins.
Barrett topped defending champion Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, in the opening match, 221-217, and was on the ropes against two-time U.S. Open winner Norm Duke of Clermont, Florida, in the second match.
Duke, needing two strikes to close out Barrett in the 10th, struck on his first shot but then left the 10 pin on his second. Barrett stepped up and fired three strikes in the final frame for a 259-255 victory.
“I was just trying to figure out the lanes and make good shots,” Barrett said. “That setup in the 10th against Norm to strike out was one of my better frames. I bowled solid, had a good idea what I was doing. It was one of my better TV shows.”
The starting field of 275 bowlers at the 2015 U.S. Open completed 24 qualifying games over three days before the field was cut to the top 92. The 32-game pinfall totals determined the 24 players for the 24 games of match play. After 24 games of match play, the top five advanced to the finals.
Bowlmor AMF, the largest operator of bowling centers in the world, committed to hosting and providing television sponsorship of more than $250,000 for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open.
For more information on Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open, visit BOWL.com/USOpen.
2015 BOWLMOR AMF U.S. OPEN
At AMF Garland Lanes, Garland, Texas
1, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y. (one game), $50,000
2, Dominic Barrett, Colchester, England (four games), $25,000
3, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo. (one game), $15,000
4, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla. (one game), $10,000
5, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas (one game), $8,000
Match One – Barrett def. Malott, 221-217
Match Two – Barrett def. Duke, 259-255
Semifinal – Barrett def. Weber, 218-200
Championship – Ciminelli def. Barrett, 236-223