A much-coveted, maiden US Open title continues to elude Jason Belmonte as the 36-year-old two-hander crashed out of this year's title race in Wednesday afternoon's stepladder finals, the final Major of the year still proving his bogey event, so to speak.
The US Open remains the only PBA Major Belmonte is yet to win and with a victory he would have joined Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the only players to win the tour's Super Slam - all of the Major titles, but not in the same year.
Instead he was beaten by 22-year-old Players Championship winner Anthony Simonsen, who posted 187 to Belmonte's 148, leaving the Orange-born 11-time Major winner and Player of the Year front-runner in the US Open wilderness again.
That 148 is the lowest score Belmonte's bowled in a televised final, his previous low came in a 214-156 loss to Wes Malott in the championship game of the, you guessed it, US Open.
He started the match with three solid shots failed to topple more than six pins on four of his next five balls.
Belmonte left no stone unturned in trying to fight his back into the match, as he had during the match-play stage after dropping to 14th in that section at one stage, switching the a urethane ball in the seventh frame and moving from the left to the right of the lane.
The move worked on the right lane but the 22-time tour winner split twice on the left lane, including a 2-8-10 combination in his final frame.
A missed 10-pin from Simonsen in the ninth gave Belmonte an opportunity to at least force Simonsen to mark, but the final split ended his chances of a first US Open title and a fifth title for the year.
"It's always hard to accept a loss, I wasn't ready to win the US Open this year and all I can do now is take a minute to reflect, learn and come back next year," Belmonte said via social media.
"In terms of execution, I was pretty happy with my game. In terms of standing in the right spot, I guessed poorly. Three shots on each lane practice for the hardest event in the world it comes down to guessing correctly basically and I missed it.
"I did however try to find something moving across the entire lane, but if the guess was just a little wrong, I left a split."
Simonsen went on to get beaten 214-164 by Canada's Francois Lavoie, who then downed Sean Rash in the championship game to claim the second green jacket of his short career.
"This is so surreal, and I don't even know where to begin," Lavoie said.
"To win the first one was unbelievable and a dream come true. Winning the second one, wow.
"Especially with the way the season started, I never could've expected this. It's not something you think will happen again, and definitely not this year of all years. I feel so fortunate."
Belmonte is still expected to win his fifth Player of the Year title despite missing out at the US Open, with many considering that trophy race to have been well and truly decided before the final Major of the year.
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