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Kulick, Belmonte still lead at 2013 U.S. Open

Matt Cannizzaro
USBC Communications
Published: July 23, 2013 | Bowl.com
Standings: Men | Women 

COLUMBUS, Ohio -
Defending champion Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., made good shots and filled frames Tuesday at the 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open and was able to maintain her place atop the women's standings through two rounds of competition.

KulickUSWO2012LARGEAlthough she briefly was passed by United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Leanne Hulsenberg of Roseville, Calif., Kulick used a big final game to surge back into the lead with a 3,449 total for 16 games. Two-time U.S. Women's Open champion Liz Johnson flirted with the lead all day and is second with 3,417, and Hulsenberg, who turned in the highest block of the day with 1,831, jumped 29 spots to third place with 3,376.

On the men's side, Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte continued his torrid pace and leads after two rounds with a 3,804 total, a 237.75 average, for 16 games. Defending champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., remained consistent and moved into second place with 3,491, while collegiate standout AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., is third with 3,490.

"Every center is a new tournament, and the lanes today played a lot different than what we bowled on last night," said Kulick, who is looking for her fourth U.S. Women's Open title and third in four years. "I physically felt like I threw the ball well today but was just missing something (ball-wise) that helped me get the four and five baggers yesterday. Overall, it was a good day. Good communication and ball selection really helped take some of the guesswork out of being at a new center, too."

The 36-year-old right-hander enjoys the long format and challenging lane condition at the U.S. Open, which also is serving as the optimal training opportunity this week as she prepares to join fellow Team USA member Mike Fagan at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia, next week.

Despite the dual purpose, Kulick's sights are set on one small goal at a time.

"The goal right now is to make it to the show," Kulick said. "I don't know if I've ever repeated at a tournament, so doing that would be really special. And, my finishes at the U.S. Open the last few years have been phenomenal, so it would mean a lot to be able to keep that going."
 
BelmonteLARGEBelmonte's performance at recent U.S. Open events has been stellar as well, but he's still in search of his first win. He is looking to improve on last year's third-place finish and add a second major title to his growing resume, which includes a victory at the 2013 USBC Masters.

"The 300 pins is a lot for sure, but it definitely can be run down by a guy like Pete Weber or one of the other great players out here," said Belmonte, who has appeared in the championship match of all three PBA majors this season. "That's why you can't look too far ahead. I look at each day like a new tournament, and if I focus on trying to lead each one as it comes, they won't be able to catch up with me."

Belmonte, a seven-time PBA champion, attributes much of his success to capitalizing on breaks and opportunities.

"I'm glad I was able to take advantage of a good reaction again today," Belmonte said. "At this event, especially, I've learned that if you have a good reaction on a pair, you need to take advantage and get all you can. I bowled well, and I'm really happy."

The 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open includes nearly 400 of the best men and women bowlers in the world, competing side by side (in separate events) at three Columbus-area bowling centers - Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, Columbus Western Bowl and Holiday Lanes.

The combined events have a prize fund of more than $400,000 and will culminate with the live two-hour ESPN finals on Saturday at noon EDT.

Competition will resume Wednesday with another eight games. Half of the field will bowl at 9 a.m. EDT, and the rest will hit the lanes at 4 p.m.

After 24 games of qualifying over three days, the field will be cut to the top 25 percent in each division (65 men and 28 women). A final six-game cashers qualifying round will determine the top 24 men and top 24 women, who advance to 24 games of round-robin match play. The final four in each division will advance to the TV finals.
 
The men's and women's champions will face off in a special Battle of the Sexes match to crown the ultimate U.S. Open winner. The special match will be broadcast live on ESPN immediately following the men's and women's finals.
 
For more information on the U.S. Open, visit BowlingsUSOpen.com. Live streaming of qualifying and match play are being provided by the PBA's Xtra Frame service.

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