Jurek earns top seed for USBC Masters finals

RESULTS: Match-play bracket

RENO, Nev. -
For the second time in his career, Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y., has earned the top seed for the television finals at the United States Bowling Congress Masters. Now he hopes to take the next step and win his first major title.

Jurek went 6-0 in the double-elimination match-play bracket at the 2011 Bayer USBC Masters, locking up the top seed with a 668-583 victory over Tom Hess of Urbandale, Iowa. Hess earned the No. 2 seed for the finals, which will be broadcast live on ESPN on Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Mika Koivuniemi of Finland secured the No. 3 seed and will face No. 4 seed Mike DeVaney of Murrieta, Calif., in the opening match of the stepladder finals at the National Bowling Stadium.

For Jurek, his success this week was a flashback to 2006 when he went unbeaten in match play only to lose in the championship match to Doug Kent, 277-230.

"The last few weeks of bowling haven't been very good for me, so I've been trying to find a happy place and 2006 in Milwaukee was it for me," said Jurek, who has two career titles on the Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour. "The most important thing for me is to try and stay relaxed and calm. I can't think about the magnitude of winning the Masters."

Jurek said the outcome in 2006 didn't leave a negative taste in his mouth because of the way Kent bowled in the final, although he hopes this Sunday he will be on the other side and be the one shooting the big game.

"If you tell me right now that I didn't have to put my shoes on and bowl but could take a 230 game in the final of a major championship, I'd take it," Jurek said. "If I stay relaxed and bowl well, I can beat anyone."

In the battle for the top seed, Jurek opened up against Hess with nine strikes in a row before shooting 276 and taking a 94-pin lead and never looking back.

Hess will be making his second appearance in the televised finals of a PBA Tour event. In January 2009, he made the finals of the Don and Paula Carter Mixed Doubles Championship, which was also held at the National Bowling Stadium.

"It's going to be very emotional for me on Sunday," said Hess, who finished fifth with Laura Hardeman in the mixed doubles event. "It might have cost me the top seed because I was so emotional when I won the match to make the show. Winning a PBA title has been a dream for me since I was a kid."

In the final matches of the losers bracket, Koivuniemi defeated 1990 Masters winner Chris Warren of Grants Pass, Ore., 695-646, while DeVaney survived a close 594-591 match with 1987 Masters winner Rick Steelsmith of Wichita, Kan.

Koivuniemi will be looking to win his second consecutive major title. He took home the biggest prize in bowling history when he won $250,000 for his victory at the PBA Tournament of Champions last month. Koivuniemi, who has three career major titles, won the Masters in 2000 for his first PBA title.

DeVaney has won two career PBA titles, the most recent coming at the 2009 PBA World Series of Bowling in the Scorpion Championship. He will be making his first appearance in the Masters championship round.

The USBC Masters is a major on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour and the champion of the event will earn $50,000. The runner-up will take home $25,000, third place will earn $15,000 and the fourth-place finisher will earn $10,000.

At National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev.

(ESPN, Sunday, 3 p.m. EST)

Match 1: No. 3 Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., vs. No. 4 Mike DeVaney, Murrieta, Calif.
Match 2: No. 2 Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, vs. Match 1 winner
Championship match: No. 1 Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., vs. Match 2 winner

Friday's results
Double elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall
(Name/hometown followed by three-game pinfall total.)


(32) Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, def. (17) Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 750-629
(8) Tommy Jones, Greenville, S.C., def. (9) Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 618-615
(12) Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., def. (37) Andres Gomez, Colombia, 692-621
(13) Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, Kan., def. (61) Erik Vermilyea, Mansfield, Texas, 664-630

(19) Mike DeVaney, Murrieta, Calif., def. (62) J.R. Raymond, Saginaw, Mich., 781-665
(22) Joe Paluszek, Bensalem, Pa., def. (38) Lucas Legnani, Argentina, 701-639
(7) Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. (10) Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., 719-630
(15) Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., def. (34) Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., 794-646

(Losers eliminated, earn $2,000)

(40) Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., def. (51) Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 640-624
(30) Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, def. (59) Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 646-606
(18) Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, def.  (23) David Beres, Waukesha, Wis., 688-656
(63) Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, def. (26) Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 631-572

(41) Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., def. (35) Stuart Williams, England, 593-540
(25) Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., def. (46) PJ Haggerty, Roseville, Calif., 690-517
(58) Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., def. (45) Mathew Jones, Avondale, Ariz., 613-573
(47) Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., def. (5) Martin Larsen, Sweden, 648-560

(Losers eliminated, earn $2,500)

Gomez def. Rash, 657-653
Barnes def. Vermilyea, 754-712
Castillo def. Allen, 736-590
Himmler def. Bohr, 639-603

Ciccone def. Haugen, 656-652
Couch def. Fagan, 805-690
Legnani def. Russell, 619-583
Smallwood def. Raymond, 693-510


Hess def. Jones, 763-665
Warren def. Steelsmith, 738-538
DeVaney def. Paluszek, 670-605
Jurek def. Koivuniemi, 692-645

(Losers eliminated, earn $3,000)

Barnes def. Gomez, 712-660
Himmler def. Castillo, 569-558
Couch def. Ciccone, 647-635
Legnani def. Smallwood, 727-627

(Losers eliminated, earn $3,600)

Koivuniemi def. Barnes, 804-698
Paluszek def. Himmler, 616-609
Steelsmith def. Couch, 692-631
Legnani def. Jones, 684-631


Hess def. Warren, 611-540
Jurek def. DeVaney, 640-584

(Losers eliminated, earn $4,700)

Koivuniemi def. Paluszek, 669-651
Steelsmith def. Legnani, 676-608

(Winners advance to TV show; Losers eliminated, earn $6,500)

Koivuniemi def. Warren, 695-646
DeVaney def. Steelsmith, 594-591

(Winner takes top seed, loser takes second seed)

Jurek def. Hess, 668-583