Ryan Mouw leads four events at 2019 USBC Open Championships

LAS VEGAS - United States Bowling Congress Open Championships titlist Ryan Mouw of Muskegon, Michigan, leads four events at the 2019 tournament after rolling 299 in his final game Sunday in one of the most dramatic finishes in tournament history.

Mouw, a 39-year-old right-hander, needed the first two strikes in the 10th frame to secure the lead in both Regular Singles (802 series) and Regular All-Events (2,156) after watching his teammate and defending Regular All-Events champion Kurt Pilon of Warren, Michigan, and 2007 USBC Masters champion Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, post the numbers to beat in each event, respectively, just moments before stepping on the approach for his final shots at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

Pilon had delivered the final five strikes to shoot 800, while Rash had raised the all-events number to 2,151. Pilon moved into third place in his title defense with 2,150, while Rash took over third in singles with 792.

032319SandBProShop1_6371Mouw's and Pilon's effort also helped S and B Pro Shop 1 into the lead in Team All-Events (9,967) on Sunday after the team returned to the top of the leaderboard in Regular Team on Saturday with 3,254.

Mouw and Pilon were joined on the lanes this weekend by three-time Open Championships titlists Billy Orlikowski (1,949) and Kerry Kreft (1,889) and Andrew Burke (1,823).

The team, with Marcus McClain bowling for Kreft, won the Regular Team title at the 2018 event in Syracuse, New York.

On his way to the singles lead, Mouw rolled games of 258 and 245 before making his run at perfection, leaving a 6 pin on his final delivery. He added sets of 708 in doubles and 646 in team to set the bar in all-events.

"It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling right now," said Mouw, who made his 15th tournament appearance. "The first two shots in the 10th were pretty good, but by the time I got to the last shot I was shaking pretty bad. Having Sean, Kurt, the whole S and B Pro Shop family and a lot of really close friends around made it feel a lot easier with the support they gave me. I can't thank them enough. It's just an incredible day."

Mouw's experience returning to the Open Championships as a champion for the first time already made his trip memorable, and he now finds himself among some of the tournament's most iconic players with the chance to claim four titles at a single event.

USBC Hall of Famer and Open Championships all-time pinfall leader Bill Lillard was the first to capture four titles in a year at the 1956 event, while fellow hall of famer Ed Lubanski matched the effort in 1959. The last bowler to accomplish the feat was Mike Neumann, who claimed four Eagles at the 1990 event in Reno, Nevada.

"The whole experience was something I really was looking forward to," Mouw said. "I wasn't sure how I would react, and it really doesn't set in until you come back here and they announce you as a champion. It was a very humbling experience.

"The thought of winning titles in back-to-back years was something I never envisioned in my bowling career. It would be out of this world. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, I had a great run."

The only discipline Mouw does not lead in at the 2019 event is Regular Doubles. He currently sits in second place with Orlikowski at 1,305 after members of their crossing team, S and B Pro Shop 2, had taken over the top spot earlier in the day.

Justin O'Hara of Belleville, Michigan, and Brad Smyth of Oxford, Michigan, lead Regular Doubles with 1,350, and their overall effort helped S and B Pro Shop 2 into second place in Team All-Events with 9,236.

O'Hara (1,914) and Smyth (1,783) were joined by David Reaume (1,967), Conner Weber (1,864) and Shawn Bibee (1,708).

PilonKurt_637For Pilon, it had been more than 20 years since he was able to experience the feeling of returning to the Open Championships after a victory. He won the first of his three career titles in Regular Team at the 1997 event as a member of Dan Ottman Enterprises of Troy, Michigan.

During his run last year, Pilon led the team effort with a 763 series and added sets of 752 in doubles and 671 in singles for a winning score of 2,186.

This year at South Point, he started with sets of 683 in doubles and 667 in team before kicking off singles with 11 consecutive strikes, leaving a 3-6 combination on his final shot for 298.

After adding 254 in Game 2 and leaving no room to miss in the final frame to become the first player at the 2019 event to roll an 800 series, Pilon delivered three strikes to finish with 248.

"That was pretty cool," said Pilon, who made his 25th appearance this week. "After not throwing a great shot earlier for 298, I needed to make a couple of good shots. Since my heart was racing just a little bit, I softened my tempo, opened my angles and wasn't going to cut one short again. I was really happy with those three shots, and I was just as happy to watch Ryan throw a couple of great ones to take the lead."

Pilon felt prepared coming into his title defense after recently finishing up at the Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling X, and he knew his teammates would be ready to work together and communicate on the lanes to give the 10-player group the opportunity to be successful in Las Vegas.

That combination made his performance at South Point a successful one, too.

"As a player, I feel my job is to be prepared for the event, so I do what I need to feel physically and mentally ready," Pilon said. "The Open (Championships), to me, is as draining of a mental test as you can get, because you only have nine games. Those nine games, to me, count for a lot. I want to be as prepared as I can, but, at the same time, show I can step it up another notch. We all work and communicate together very well, which is a big key, and hopefully showed that being prepared and putting in the work paid off. I'm happy to have a good return to the event."

RashSean_637Rash was the first player to finish Sunday's run to the top of the leaderboard and also had the chance to reach 800 in singles. After starting with games of 276 and 279, he needed to strike on the first ball of his 10th frame to keep his window open but left a 2-5 combination. He picked up the spare and struck on his final shot for 237.

He added sets of 685 in team and 674 in doubles.

Rash teamed with Derek Sapp of Keokuk, Iowa, to win Regular Doubles in his Open Championships debut at the 2003 event, but his appearance this week was his first trip to compete at the Open Championships since 2006.

"Being able to come back to the Open Championships after a 13-year break meant so much because I got to do it with four of my closest friends," said Rash, a 13-time PBA Tour titlist. "It's nice to be back and have the opportunity to stay sharp for the (USBC) Masters next week, but it's really about the camaraderie you get to share with your teammates and friends."

Heading into Sunday's final squad, Warren Meyer of Melbourne, Florida, had led Regular Singles with 761, while David Carroll of Grandville, Michigan, led Regular All-Events with 2,009. Kegel Productions No. 1 of Weed, California, had led Team All-Events with 9,077.

Regular Singles and Regular All-Events includes bowlers with entering averages of 176 and above.

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