HONG KONG - After two days of close calls, Team USA won its first gold-medal match at the 2018 World Bowling Men's Championships.
EJ Tackett, who locked up the all-events gold medal earlier Monday, teamed with Kyle Troup and Andrew Anderson to claim the trios title with a 632-551 win over Indonesia.
Since strikes were a little harder to come by early in the final, compared to a high-scoring semifinal match with Korea, filling frames proved to be the key to success for Team USA in the championship match.
A pair of mid-game open frames from Indonesia allowed Team USA's three World Championships first-timers to build a double-digit lead, and Troup closed with five strikes to put the game out of reach. He requested the opportunity to bowl in the leadoff position to help energize the team along the way.
Troup finished with a 229 game, Tackett added 223 and Anderson had 180, which included eight spares. Ryan Lalisang was the high man for Indonesia with 189. Billy Islam added 183, and Hardy Rachmadian contributed 179.
The silver medal was the first medal of any kind for the Indonesian men at the World Championships and comes a year after their women's team broke through for a pair of bronze medals at the 2017 event in Las Vegas.
Team USA last won trios in 2010, earned bronze in 2013, silver in 2014 and failed to medal in 2017.
"This is up there in my career achievements and has been a goal of mine for a long time," said Troup, who finished second at the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup last month in his Team USA debut. "It feels amazing to have achieved this first win, but the main goal still is that team gold. This is a great confidence builder for all of us, especially to finally win on this TV pair, which has eluded us all week. I think that only adds to the confidence going into tomorrow."
Shortly before the start of the trios medal round, Team USA earned the No. 1 seed for Tuesday's team semifinals, and Tackett and Anderson were presented with the gold and silver all-events medals, respectively.
At the same time, Indonesia had just come up 17 pins shy of a spot in the team medal round, so both teams had only a few minutes to rebound from the emotional extremes, before bowling for the trios medals.
In the opening semifinal, it was Team USA over Korea, this time by a 695-654 margin. On the way to the doubles final Sunday night, eventual silver medalists Tackett and Anderson dispensed of Korea's Park Jong Woo and Kim Kyung Min.
Tackett led the way for the United States against Korea in the trios semifinal match with a 245 game, striking in eight of the first nine frames. Troup wasn't far behind with 243, and Anderson added 207.
Korea was paced by Kim's 243 effort, and he was followed by Koo Seong Hoi (212) and Park (199).
Making sure to maintain the momentum was something Anderson was aware of after two previous medal rounds, and getting to share his first win with his teammates made the moment even more special.
"This is such a relief," said Anderson, who started the week with a bronze medal in singles and a silver medal in doubles with Tackett. "I had a couple chances already this week and came up short. To come through with the gold tonight, and for the guys to hold me up the way they did, is pretty special. It's a relief, and I'm really excited about it, not only for me, but for them, too."
Indonesia earned its meeting with Team USA by defeating Sweden in the second semifinal, 632-591.
Lalisang, Indonesia's anchor, tossed four strikes after an opening-frame spare, to help Indonesia build an early lead. He stepped up in the final frame needing a mark to shut out Sweden, and he delivered a Brooklyn strike for the win.
Lalisang struck seven times in the semifinal on the way to a 235 game and was followed by Rachmadian (216) and Islam (181). Mattias Wetterberg led the way for Sweden in the loss with a 202 effort and was joined by left-hander Jesper Svensson (195) and Martin Larsen (194).
"This means so much for us, and it is a dream come true," Lalisang said. "It was close in the final, and just to be in there was such a great feeling, since it was our first time."
Sweden's last win at the World Championships was in doubles in 2010, while the team's last trios medal, a bronze, came at the 1995 event.
With all of the core events now complete, the action at the SCAA Bowling Centre shifts to Masters match play, which includes the top 24 players from the all-events standings, based on their 24-game pinfall totals from singles, doubles, trios and team.
Masters match play will begin Tuesday afternoon, followed by the medal round for the team event at 5 p.m. local time (4 a.m. Eastern).
At the conclusion of the team event Monday, the all-events medals (gold, silver and bronze) were awarded.
Tackett claimed the first gold medal of his Team USA career with a 24-game total of 5,352, a 223 average. Anderson, who owns one of the week's two perfect games, earned the silver medal with 5,285, and Canada's Dan MacLelland was the bronze medalist with 5,277.
"I just didn't see the lanes right to start, I wasn't doing the right thing with my hand and I didn't have the right surfaces on my bowling balls, but I figured things out and it got better each day," Tackett said just before the trios medal round. "It feels amazing to win this one. From an individual standpoint, all-events is special because it's an accumulation of the whole week, not just one day. I'll treasure this one for a while, but right now I am going to turn my attention to the trios medal round and team tomorrow."
Team USA's Troup, also a bronze medalist in singles, just missed an all-events medal, finishing fourth with 5,250.
Along with Tackett, Anderson and Troup, Team USA's Tommy Jones also advanced to the Masters portion of the tournament. He qualified 18th with a 5,024 total. Team USA's Jakob Butturff and Chris Barnes failed to advance, finishing tied for 110th and 154th, respectively.
Sweden's Pontus Andersson and Germany's Oliver Morig tied for 23rd place with 4,971, a 207.12 average for 24 games, and claimed the final spots in match play.
The top eight finishers will receive first-round byes, while the No. 9-24 qualifiers will return to the lanes Tuesday afternoon for the first round of best-of-three matches.
The top eight will join the first-round winners in the bracket when competition resumes Wednesday. The tournament formally will end with the Masters final Wednesday night.
All 265 competitors at the 2018 World Men's Championships bowled 24 games this week at the SCAA Bowling Centre.
All qualifying rounds at the 2018 World Men's Championships are being livestreamed by World Bowling, and all medal rounds will be broadcast to the United States and Canada by FloBowling. A FloBowling subscription will be required to watch the medal rounds.
For more information on the 2018 World Men's Championships, visit 2018wmc.worldbowling.org.
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2018 WORLD BOWLING MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
South China Athletic Association Bowling Centre
(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)
Kyle Troup/EJ Tackett/Andrew Anderson, United States, def. Billy Islam/Hardy Rachmadian/Ryan Lalisang, Indonesia, 632-551
(Winners advance, losers each get bronze)
Troup/Tackett/Anderson, United States, def. Kim Kyung Min/ Koo Seong Hoi/Park Jong Woo, Korea, 695-654
Islam/Rachmadian/Lalisang, Indonesia, def. Mattias Wetterberg/Jesper Svensson/Martin Larsen, Sweden, 632-591
(24-game pinfall totals - six games of singles, doubles, trios and team)
Gold - EJ Tackett, United States, 5,352
Silver - Andrew Anderson, United States, 5,285
Bronze - Dan MacLelland, Canada, 5,277