THERE was nearly a huge upset at the West Orange Motors Open on the weekend.
Orange’s Jason Belmonte, who is arguably the world’s best tenpin bowler at the moment, held on to take out his home-town title, but only after he was given a scare.
The title race went down to the final game as Shellharbour’s Jamie Kyriacou had a strong second day yesterday to push Belmonte.
In the end Belmonte came out on top, edging out Kyriacou by 49 pins, to claim a record fifth Orange Open crown.
Last year’s winner, Sam Cooley, came in third, a further 207 pins behind.
Belmonte was relieved to lift the trophy yesterday.
“It was one of those situations where I felt extremely comfortable for 99 per cent of the weekend,” Belmonte explained.
“Then that last per cent, the hairs on the back of my neck started to go up a bit. The last few games, Jamie really rallied. I started to lose my reaction a little bit.”
Belmonte was leading after Saturday’s 10 qualifying games with his 2443.
Kyriacou was next best on 2330, followed by Cooley on 2279.
The top 32 progressed to yesterday’s round of 10 games and carried their pinfall over, where Kyriacou had a strong day.
The Shellharbour player bowled 2403 for his 10 games, while Belmonte managed 2339.
The 113-pin lead Belmonte scored on Saturday proved crucial.
“It was really good to win at home,” Belmonte said.
“To win in front of my grandparents, my wife, my kids, my immediate family, when they never get to see you compete, is fantastic.”
Orange bowlers performed well on their home lanes with Jason Brown finishing seventh and teenager Nick Flannery 11th.
Jason Osborne (15th), Ron Forbes (16th), Aaron Osborne (21st) and Ross Southwell (29th) also qualified for the top 32.
Belmonte will fly out to Sweden on Tuesday to compete in the Swedish League finals, before heading to Oklahoma for the Professional Bowlers Association’s Summer Swing from May 17-25.