GREEN BAY, Wis. – Jason Belmonte of Australia and Pete Weber of St. Ann, Missouri, both have their sights set on making history as the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Masters begins to wind down.
Both players went 2-0 in the double-elimination match-play bracket Friday to stay alive in the winners bracket at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley. The Masters will conclude with the live ESPN finals on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Belmonte can make history by becoming the first player in the 64-year history of the Masters to win the event three consecutive years. He defeated Kris Koeltzow, 686-605, and Mika Koivuniemi, 702-625, in each of his three-game matches Friday.
“Obviously, this tournament is a little easier to win if you stay in the winners bracket,” Belmonte said. “In both my matches today, I was really nervous in the first game, so I need to find a way to calm down because I can’t afford to give those early pins away anymore.”
Weber, who has 37 career Professional Bowlers Association titles including 10 majors, would win the PBA’s Grand Slam with a victory this week and become just the third player in history to accomplish the feat, joining Mike Aulby and Norm Duke.
The Grand Slam is made up of the four majors on the PBA Tour – the USBC Masters, PBA Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open and the PBA National/World Championship.
Weber opened match play with a pair of close victories, defeating Christopher Sand, 696-662, after starting with a 161 game, and then throwing the first strike in the final frame to defeat Ildemaro Ruiz, 719-715.
“With the start I had this morning, I wasn’t feeling very good,” Weber said. “I got a break and my arm swing loosened up, so that helped everything fall into place. I really don’t like the matches to be that close.”
A total of 16 bowlers still remain in the winners bracket, while another 16 bowlers are still in contention in the elimination portion of the bracket. The players in the winners bracket are just three victories away Saturday from making the TV finals, while the elimination bracket bowlers have a much longer path to the finals.
Among the bowlers still alive in the winners bracket are several current or recent collegiate bowlers, including Francois Lavoie (Wichita State), Matt Gasn (Robert Morris-Illinois), AJ Johnson (McKendree) and Andrew Anderson (Davenport, last season).
Competition in the winners bracket resumes at 9 a.m. Central on Saturday, while the elimination bowlers begin bowling at 10:45 a.m. Central.
The Masters, which features a first-place prize of $50,000, is a major event on the PBA Tour and is part of the World Tenpin Bowling Association World Bowling Tour.
All rounds of the Masters are being covered live on Xtra Frame, the PBA’s online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit pba.com.
For more information on the Masters, including live scoring, visit BOWL.com/Masters.