Tim Foy Jr. Leads PTQ, 43 Qualify for 2021 U.S. Open

by Matt Cannizzaro, USBC Communications 0

Results: PTQ

RENO, Nev. -
 Tim Foy Jr. of Seaford, Delaware, is having a memorable week at the National Bowling Stadium, and his momentum continued Sunday night in the pre-tournament qualifier for the 2021 U.S. Open.

The 34-year-old two-hander averaged more than 236 to pace the 53-player PTQ field with a 1,893 total for his eight games, including a 276 finish.

The 43 players advancing from the PTQ will round out the 108-competitor field for the U.S. Open, which kicks off Tuesday, after a full day of practice squads Monday.

The other 65 bowlers scheduled to compete this week earned direct entry into the event based on their on-lane performances throughout 2020 and in other top-tier events.

"It always feels good when you bowl well, but it also took some pressure off knowing we were bowling for 43 spots," said Foy, a two-time Professional Bowlers Association regional champion. "Now, the focus will shift, and my mindset will be the same as it is for any other event. I'll use my practice wisely to come up with a game plan and to pick the 10 balls I think will give me the best chance to make the first cut at the U.S. Open."

Foy was followed in the PTQ standings by Sweden's Karl Wahlgren (1,796), Zac Tackett of Huntington, Indiana, who rolled a 300 game during the PTQ (1,794), PBA Tour champion Cristian Azcona of Lake Wales, Florida (1,771), and Ryan Lakota of Shorewood, Illinois (1,758).

It took an average of 182.75 to advance to the U.S. Open field, and the final spot went to amateur Trent Mitchell of Chicago, who posted a 1,462 total.

Each round of qualifying and match play at the 2021 U.S. Open will be broadcast live at BowlTV.com and simulcast on FloBowling. Sunday's PTQ can be revisited in the BowlTV archives.

The first three days of competition will include three eight-game blocks for all competitors, each on a different oil pattern, after which, the field will be cut to the top 36 to face a fourth oil pattern.

Total pinfall for 32 games will determine the 24 players for the round-robin portion of the event, and their 56-game totals, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, will decide the five players for the championship stepladder.

The U.S. Open will conclude live on Fox Sports' FS1 on April 11 as part of the 2021 PBA Tour television schedule, airing from 2-4 p.m. Eastern. The winner will take home the coveted green jacket and a $30,000 top prize.

Total pinfall determined the bowlers who advanced from Sunday's PTQ, and the list includes men, women, youth, international players, local standouts, newcomers and veterans.

Also among the qualifiers were former Team USA members Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California, and David Haynes of Las Vegas, Professional Women's Bowling Association stars Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, and Maria José Rodriguez of Colombia and youth sensation Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio, who is fresh off a noteworthy week at the PWBA Kickoff Classic Series and a PBA Junior National Championship victory.

The 41-foot oil pattern the competitors faced Sunday was one test in what they know will be a challenging week.

Along with being arguably the most prestigious event in the sport of bowling, the U.S. Open is known for its long format and difficult lane conditions. With strikes a little harder to come by, there often is a premium on spare shooting.

That is a scenario Foy, and many of his fellow competitors, are familiar with after a challenging week at the USBC Masters, which concluded Sunday afternoon following a week of competition at the NBS on a difficult 40-foot lane condition.

Foy's performance at the Masters is the continuation of a successful 2021 that started with an appearance in the regional finals of the PBA Players Championship.

This week, he finished in a tie for 13th place after a run through the double-elimination match-play bracket that started with a clutch opening-round win over four-time Masters champion Jason Belmonte of Australia.

Foy now will head into the U.S. Open sharp from his 30 games at the Masters and confident from his successful performance.

"I definitely feel sharp after bowling on the Masters pattern all week because it was super difficult and really made you bowl," Foy said. "Tonight, the lanes just felt so much bigger, and my shot making was better. I know my confidence is high, and I hope the momentum continues."

Foy noted that his recent success stems from a bold change to his grip. About a year and a half ago, he made the decision to stop using his thumb, and it ultimately has enhanced his versatility and the things he can do with the ball.

Recent PBA Tour champion Shawn Maldonado of Houston mentioned after his win at the World Series of Bowling VII in Florida that a similar change has been instrumental in winning his first PBA Tour title.

Belmonte is the defending champion at the U.S. Open, and his win in 2020 was his then-record 12th major title. The victory allowed him join USBC and PBA Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the only players in history to complete the Super Slam, which includes the U.S. Open, USBC Masters, PBA Tournament of Champions, PBA World Championship and PBA Players Championship.

Belmonte has since added another couple of titles, including a victory at the 2020 PBA World Championship for his 13th major win, and a sixth PBA Player of the Year Award. Should he win again in 2021, he'd become the first player to complete the Super Slam twice.

Only four bowlers - Andy Varipapa, Don Carter, Dick Weber and Dave Husted have successfully defended their U.S. Open titles. Husted was the last to accomplish the feat, doing so in 1996.

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