Making his third stepladder final of the Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing, five-time PBA Tour champion Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., won a position round match in the final match play round Thursday at FireLake Bowling Center to earn the top berth for the PBA Oklahoma Open finals.
O’Neill, who already qualified second for the Summer Swing Wolf and Bear Open finals, beat two-time defending PBA Player of the Year and Oklahoma Open defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia, 255-214, in the final match to take the top spot. O’Neill finished the day with 10-8 overall match play record and 8,492 36-game pinfall (including bonus pins) to edge Belmonte, who finished second five pins behind with an 8,487 pinfall and 11-7 match play record.
“Obviously you’re looking at the big picture to get to this point in this tournament, but you can’t really ever let off the gas,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill, who says he sometimes has a tendency to over-analyze his game when he’s not bowling well, didn’t have that problem during the Summer Swing.
“When I’m bowling well, I really don’t think about much at all,” O’Neill said. “In that last match I knew what I had to do and just threw it because may game was where it needed to be.”
In the final match play round, conducted on PBA’s 52-foot Badger lane condition, O’Neill was 4-2 and had games of 259, 217, 214, 196, 214 before his 255 in the position round match.
The Oklahoma Open is the fourth of five events that comprise the Summer Swing. All five events (Wolf, Bear, Badger and Oklahoma Opens plus the Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing) will be taped by the CBS Sports Network Saturday and Sunday at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Event Center.
Belmonte, a favorite to win his third consecutive Player of the Year crown after winning the United States Bowling Congress Masters for the third consecutive year and the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions for the second consecutive year earlier this season, will be trying for his third title of the season and 13th of his career. For Belmonte it was his second Summer Swing stepladder final after qualifying third for the Bear Open.
Earning the third qualifying position for the Oklahoma Open finals, was 15-time Tour winner Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., who also qualified fifth for the Wolf Open and fourth for the Bear Open. He ended the day with a 12-5-1 match play record and 8,272 pinfall.
Thirteen-time PBA Tour winner Patrick Allen of Mount Kisco, N.Y., was the first round leader of the Badger and Wolf Opens only to drop out of contention for a stepladder spot after the final round. He hung on to earn a spot in the Oklahoma Open final qualifying fourth with a 9-8-1 record and 8,247 pinfall. He will be trying to end a six-year drought without a PBA Tour title.
Wrapping up the top five was two-time Tour winner Andres Gomez of Colombia who has already qualified fourth for the Wolf Open finals. Gomez finished the day with a 11-7 record and 8,206 pinfall.
All of the 18 match play finalists earned their spots in the Oklahoma match play rounds through their aggregate first round qualifying pinfall totals in the Wolf, Bear and Badger Opens.
This weekend’s taping schedule at the Grand Event Center begins Saturday with the Wolf Open at 11 a.m. CT; Bear Open, 2:30 p.m. and Badger Open at 5:15 p.m. Tapings continue Sunday with the Oklahoma Open at noon and Oklahoma’s Grand Resort King of the Swing at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for the tapings by visiting www.grandboxoffice.com or on site at the Grand Event Center box office.
CBS Sports Network airings of the Summer Swing begin on successive Tuesday’s beginning with the Wolf Open (May 26, 8 p.m. ET), Bear Open (June 2, 9 p.m.), Badger Open (June 9, 9 p.m.) Oklahoma Open (June 16, 9 p.m.) and King of the Swing (June 23, 9 p.m.).
PBA OKLAHOMA OPEN
FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., Thursday
Final Match Play Standings (after 36 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advanced to stepladder finals Sunday at Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Event Center)
1, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 10-8, 8,492.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 11-7, 8,487.
3, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 12-5-1, 8,272.
4, Patrick Allen, Mount Kisco, N.Y., 9-8-1, 8,247.
5, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 11-7, 8,206.
6, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 10-8, 8,190, $4,000.
7, Dom Barrett, England, 10-8, 8,160, $3,500.
8, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 11-7, 8,107, $3,000.
9, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 10-8, 8,069, $2,800.
10, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonawanda, N.Y., 10-8, 8,063, $2,500.
11, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 8-10, 8,022, $2,300.
12, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 9-9, 8,000, $2,100.
13, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 8-10, 7,978, $2,000.
14, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 6-12, 7,955, $1,900.
15, Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 8-10, 7,942, $1,800.
16, Mike Fagan, Ft. Worth, Texas, 6-12, 7,887, $1,700.
17, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 6-12, 7,843, $1,600.
18, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 6-12, 7,648, $1,500.