Field finalized at 2019 U.S. Open

PTQ results

With the conclusion of an eight-game pre-tournament qualifier Wednesday at Victory Lanes, the field now is set for the 2019 U.S. Open, which will include 144 of the best bowlers in the world.

The PTQ featured 66 competitors vying for 53 available spots in the main U.S. Open field. The other 91 bowlers scheduled to compete this week earned direct entry into the event based on their on-lane performances throughout 2018.

Each round of the 2019 U.S. Open, leading up to the championship round, will be broadcast live on and simulcast on FloBowling.

CBS Sports Network will have live coverage of the stepladder finals on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Eastern. The winner this week will take home the coveted green jacket and a $30,000 top prize.

Total pinfall determined the bowlers who advanced Wednesday, and the diverse list includes men, women, youth, international players, local standouts, newcomers and veterans.

Left-hander Gary Faulkner Jr. of Memphis, Tennessee, set the pace with a 1,768 total, a 221 average. He was followed by Canada's Nathan Ruest-Lajoie (1,724), Kim Bolleby of Thailand (1,715), Steven Arehart of Chesapeake, Virginia (1,695), and Professional Women's Bowling Association standout Verity Crawley of England (1,663).

Faulkner, a past member of Junior Team USA and collegiate champion at Webber International, is searching for his second major title. His lone Professional Bowlers Association Tour title came at the 2015 PBA World Championship.

"Yes, it's the PTQ, but I wanted to come out and treat it like it was the U.S. Open or Day 1 of qualifying, which means throwing every shot like you mean it and making the same changes and moves you would in those situations," Faulkner said. "Today was good for the confidence, and it gave me a chance to learn some tendencies of the center. Going through this definitely is different than just having a practice session, and it was really helpful."

2019USOCrawleyForWeb250x140Crawley, a 25-year-old right-hander who also earned a collegiate national championship while at Webber, is coming off of a PWBA season that didn't go as well as she would've liked but left her ready to begin preparing for the 2020 season, which will get underway in April.

"I definitely learned a lot from the recent PWBA season and have had a chance to analyze how it went," said Crawley, who finished second at the 2019 PWBA Twin Cities Open. "It helped me decide on a new game plan and what I want to work on going into next year, and this all is part of the learning process. I'm happy to be here and have the chance to bowl in such a prestigious event, but I don't want to set my sights on anything specific. I just want to enjoy the experience."

Crawley was one of three ladies in the PTQ field, joined by two-time PWBA Tour champion Maria José Rodriguez of Colombia and local standout Caroline Thesier the U17 girls champion at the 2019 Junior Gold Championships presented by the Brands of Ebonite International.

Rodriguez was 51st among the 53 players who advanced (1,441), and Thesier snagged the final spot with a 1,438 total, a 179.75 average.

Though the 40-foot PTQ oil pattern presented a welcomed challenged for the competitors, the few minutes between the conclusion of the eight-game block and the announcement of the advancers proved to be the most nerve-racking for Thesier, who finished with a 149 game.

As a 17-year-old female who resides in the host city, Thesier will be representing multiple demographics against one of the toughest fields around on a variety of challenging lane conditions.

"That was some of the hardest few minutes of my life," said Thesier, who has bowled league at Victory Lanes. "I didn't think I made it. I was kind of down on myself and thinking about everything I did wrong today. But, when the number came up, it was one of the best feelings ever."

The advancers will join the other participants at Victory Lanes on Thursday for official practice, and qualifying at the 2019 U.S. Open will begin Friday at 8 a.m. Eastern.

All competitors will bowl 24 games over three days, before the field is cut to the top 36 for an eight-game cashers' round. The top 24 then will move on to round-robin match play, after which, the top five will advance to the championship round based on their 56-game pinfall total, including bonus pins for each victory during match play.

The event will test the players' versatility with four challenging oil patterns.

The U.S. Open is the final major championship on the 2019 PBA Tour schedule and is conducted jointly by the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Proprietors' Association of America.