A FINAL match play win allowed Orange’s Jason Belmonte to scrape into the Professional Bowlers Association Oklahoma Open stepladder final on Friday (AEST).
Bowling in Oklahoma, Belmonte was seventh after 17 round robin match play games, 32 pins outside the top five.
In his last match play game, the 30-year-old thumped Anthony Lavery-Spahr 268-274 to take the win and earn the 30 bonus pins.
This pushed him into fifth place with 8257 pins, 57 ahead of sixth-placed Chris Barnes.
America’s EJ Tackett was the top qualifier on 8367.
“Wow...What a finish. Bowled my second highest game of the week when I needed it most,” Belmonte posted on Facebook after his result.
The top 18 bowlers after the six qualifying games in each of the Bear, Wolf and Badger opens, bowled the 18 match play games yesterday.
Belmonte qualified for the match play round in eighth, 39 pins outside the top five.
The first six match play games were on the Wolf pattern where Belmonte rocketed up to second on the ladder thanks to five wins and games of 266, 226, 225, 279, 249 and 223.
He found the going tough on the next six games on the Bear pattern where he slipped to fifth with three wins.
From here, on the Badger pattern, Belmonte fell out of the top five but managed to claw his way back into the cut and the stepladder final.
Belmonte will take on fourth qualifier, American Tommy Jones, in the first stepladder match, with the winner moving on to take on third qualifier Bill O’Neill.
The winner from this match will play second qualifier Chris Loschetter, and the victorious bowler will clash with Tackett in the Open decider.
Belmonte may have qualified fifth but this won’t deter him.
In February this year Belmonte qualified fifth for the United States Bowling Congress Masters and went through the stepladder final without a loss to win the major title.
“We saw what happened in the USBC Masters,” Belmonte’s mother Marisa told the Central Western Daily yesterday.
“He came from fifth to win. Hopefully history can repeat.”
Whoever wins the Oklahoma Open will book a place in the PBA’s Summer King of Swing along with the winners from the Wolf, Bear and Badger opens, as well as a wildcard entry.
The Oklahoma Open stepladder final is scheduled to start at 3am on Monday (AEST) followed by the Summer King of Swing at 6.30am.