Jason Belmonte becomes first bowler to win three straight USBC Masters titles


    2015 PBA Tour #4

    Australian two-hander defeats top-seeded collegiate bowler AJ Johnson, 202-157, on the way to his 11th career PBA title and the $50,000 first prize

    2015PBA04JasonBelmonte.jpg2015PBA04AJJohnson.jpgAustralia's Jason Belmonte (pictured left with the trophy) became the first bowler in the 64-year history of the United States Bowling Congress Masters to win the event three consecutive times on Sunday, defeating collegiate bowler AJ Johnson (right) of Oswego, Illinois, 202-157.

    Belmonte, the two-time reigning Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year, pulled away down the stretch at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley to claim the Masters for the third straight year live on ESPN.

    Utilizing his unique two-handed delivery, Belmonte has amassed 11 career PBA Tour titles, including four major victories. He earned $50,000 for winning the Masters.

    "I just think the Masters is just a brutal tournament to not just win, but just to make it to the TV show," said Belmonte, who joined USBC Hall of Famer Mike Aulby (1989, 1995 and 1998) as the event's second three-time winner.

    "This means more to me than anyone can possibly imagine - that a kid from Australia who bowls different than everyone else is now in the history books."

    The title match was a low-scoring affair as Belmonte and the top-seeded Johnson both got off to shaky starts. After four frames, both players were working on opens with Belmonte leading by just four pins.

    Strikes in the fifth and sixth frames helped Belmonte build more of a lead before he converted the 3-4-10 split in the seventh frame to stay ahead. Johnson had a chance to put pressure on Belmonte in the final two frames but closed with a pair of open frames.

    2015PBA04DeVaneyWeberLarsen.jpg"I feel a little disappointed because I wish I would have bowled a better game in the finals," said Johnson, a two-time Team USA member and senior at McKendree University. "The lanes got tough and it went by so fast that by the time I could settle down the game was almost over."

    In the semifinal, Belmonte won a tense match against USBC Hall of Famer Pete Weber (center) of St. Ann, Missouri, 232-210. Weber had an opportunity to strike out in the final frame to force a tie, but left the 3-10 split on his first shot in the final frame.

    Weber entered the stepladder finals as the No. 4 seed, taking down Martin Larsen (right) of Sweden in the opening match, 237-223, and then defeating No. 3 seed Mike DeVaney (left) of Winchester, California, in the second match, 211-204.

    The Masters, which featured a total prize fund of $253,000, is part of the World Bowling Tour and a major event on the PBA Tour. A sold-out field of 336 of the top bowlers in the world competed in the event.


    United States Bowling Congress Masters - Stepladder Results

    The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wis., United States (Feb. 2-8, 2015)

    2015PBA04JasonBelmonte2.jpgChampionship Round:
    1. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 434 (two games), $50,000
    2. AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 157 (one game), $25,000
    3. Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 658 (three games), $15,000
    4. Mike DeVaney, Winchester, Calif., 204 (one game) $10,000
    5. Martin Larsen, Sweden, 223 (one game), $8,000

    Playoff Results:
    Match One: No. 4 Weber def. No. 5 Larsen, 237-223
    Match Two: Weber def. No. 3 DeVaney, 211-204
    Match Three: No. 2 Belmonte def. Weber, 232-210
    Championship: Belmonte def. No. 1 Johnson, 202-157.


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