Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith
GARLAND, Texas - Less than two weeks after capturing his third Professional Bowlers Association Tour title, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., finds himself on top of the standings at the 2015 Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open through two rounds of qualifying.
The 29-year-old left-hander posted an eight-game block of 1,829 at AMF Garland Lanes on Wednesday to move into the lead with a 16-game total of 3,690, a 230.6 average.
Team USA's John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, N.Y., is second with 3,655, while United States Bowling Congress and PBA Hall of Famers Amleto Monacelli of Venezuela (3,632) and Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla. (3,611), are third and fourth, respectively. Defending U.S. Open champion, Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, rounds out the top five with 3,580.
"On our side of the lane, it's been all about staying away from the traffic," Ciminelli said. "You have to find a way to eliminate the pattern as much as you can. For me, it's been strong balls, keeping my angles shut, using my ball speed to get through the front of the lane and just trying to keep everything uphill and towards the pocket. As soon as you open up your angles and give it away at all, no matter where you're playing, it's dead."
Ciminelli admittedly has struggled at the U.S. Open in the past, but his win at the PBA Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open last month helped build his confidence heading into this week.
"Getting another win really takes the weight off your shoulders, and you have to ride that wave," said Ciminelli, who finished 24th at the U.S. Open in 2013. "You never know what to expect on the left side at the [U.S.] Open, and I haven't had a lot of success at this tournament, so I tried to come in with an open mind. I've been fortunate to see something out there that others haven't, and I've been able to take advantage of it."
Ciminelli will return to the lanes Thursday at 9 a.m. Eastern for the final day of qualifying, and he will have his first opportunity to compete on the fresh 43-foot oil pattern.
The lanes at the U.S. Open are oiled once each day, and bowlers are divided into three squads. By the end of qualifying Thursday, they all will have had the chance to compete on the three phases of the oil pattern — the fresh, burn and double-burn.
"I'll need to get the ball started in the first 10-to-15 feet because I'm trying to play the fronts," Ciminelli said. "With the fresh, it's going to be harder to get my ball started, but I have a couple of ideas and I hope they work. It can quickly go south in this tournament, so I'm not taking anything for granted."
The first perfect game of the 2015 U.S. Open was rolled Wednesday, as Canada's Francois Lavoie rolled 12 consecutive strikes on his way to a 3,546 total, placing him in eighth overall.
Lavoie, who won the 2014 Intercollegiate Singles Championships and 2015 Intercollegiate Team Championships while attending Wichita State, also rolled a 300 at the USBC Masters in February. Lavoie narrowly missed making that show, finishing 6th.
All competitors at the 2015 U.S. Open will bowl 24 qualifying games over three days, before the field is cut to the top 92 for eight additional games. The 32-game pinfall totals will determine the 24 players for the round-robin match play, after which, the top five will advance to the stepladder finals based on their 56-game totals.
All qualifying and match-play rounds will be broadcast live on the Professional Bowlers Association's online bowling channel, Xtra Frame.
The televised finals are scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network, and the winner will take home a top prize of $50,000.
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, which USBC Hall Famer, Liz Johnson, won at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in September.