Koivuniemi leads unbeaten players

RESULTS: Match-play bracket
BLOG: Erik Vermilyea


RENO, Nev. - Finland's Mika Koivuniemi's proficiency in major tournaments continued Thursday night as he went 2-0 in matches at the 2011 Bayer United States Bowling Congress Masters to lead a group of 16 undefeated players.

Koivuniemi, who last month won $250,000 for his victory at the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions, dominated his first two matches at the National Bowling Stadium and is the highest seed remaining in the winners bracket at No. 7.

"I'm probably bowling better than I have in my entire life," said Koivuniemi, who won the Masters in 2000 for his first career Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour title. "If I keep it up I like my chances to make the show. But you never know if you will run into someone who will bowl a big series."

Koivuniemi defeated No. 58 Ronnie Russell, 690-572, in the first round and then took down No. 26 Brad Angelo, 754-664, in the three games, total pins matches.

"I really like where I am right now," Koivuniemi said. "It's been a long time since I went 2-0 in matches to start the Masters. I feel like I can bowl good enough to beat anyone right now. A lot depends on who I bowl and what pair I bowl on."

The double-elimination match-play bracket wasn't kind to the top seeds as No. 1 Bill O'Neill of Southampton, Pa., No. 2 George Lambert IV of Canada, No. 3 West Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and No. 4 Jason Belmonte of Australia were all eliminated on Thursday night.

Defending champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. entered match play as the No. 64 seed and he upset O'Neill in the first round, 739-712, but then went on to lose his next two matches to be knocked out of the tournament with a 1-2 record.

In the winners bracket, two amateurs remained alive in their quest to join an elite list of amateur players to win the Masters. Erik Vermilyea of Mansfield, Texas, and Lucas Legnani of Argentina both stayed unbeaten Thursday. Mathew Jones of Avondale, Ariz., is the lone amateur left in the losers bracket.

The only woman remaining in the field is Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., who made sports history last year by becoming the first woman to win a PBA Tour title. She will take on the man she beat for that title, Chris Barnes, in the losers bracket Friday morning.

A total of 32 players remain in the hunt for this year's Masters title with 16 players in the winners bracket and 16 players in the losers bracket. All players completed 15 games of qualifying over three days to earn their spot in match play.

The USBC Masters is a major on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour and the champion of the event will earn $50,000. The final four players who survive bracket play will advance to the championship round, which will be televised live on ESPN at 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

At National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev.
Thursday's results

Double elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall
(Name/hometown followed by three-game pinfall total)

(Winners remain in winners bracket. Losers move to losers bracket)

(64) Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., def. (1) Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 739-712
(32) Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, def. (33) Lennie Boresch Jr., Kenosha, Wis., 649-634
(17) Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., def. (48) Mark Scuderi Jr., Rochester, N.Y., 620-612
(49) Ralph Solan, Huntsville, Ala., def. (16) Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 648-623
(9) Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., def. (56) Terrance Bright, Atlanta, 612-581
(41) Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., def. (24) Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 615-610
(25) Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., def. (40) Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 724-694
(8) Tommy Jones, Greenville, S.C., def. (57) Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 655-640

(5) Martin Larsen, Sweden, def. (60) Kimmo Lehtonen, Finland, 696-675
(37) Andres Gomez, Colombia, def. (28) Wayne Garber, Modesto, Calif., 603-567
(44) Steven Badovinac, Parker, Colo., def. (21) Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 637-553
(12) Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., def. (53) Adam Ishman, Las Vegas, 689-545
(13) Rick Steelsmith, Wichita, Kan., def. (52) Brandon Kraye, LaHabra, Calif., 694-637
(45) Mathew Jones, Avondale, Ariz., def. (20) Joshua Kierpiec, Scottsville, N.Y., 672-533
(36) Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., def. (29) Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 672-662
(61) Erik Vermilyea, Mansfield, Texas, def. (4) Jason Belmonte, Australia, 620-568

(62) J.R. Raymond, Saginaw, Mich., def. (3) Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 599-573
(30) Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, def. (35) Stuart Williams, England, 639-613
(19) Mike DeVaney, Murrieta, Calif., def. (46) PJ Haggerty, Roseville, Calif., 661-619
(51) Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., def. (14) Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 745-609
(54) Michael Steil, Wheeling, Ill., def. (11) Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 620-605
(22) Joe Paluszek, Bensalem, Pa., def. (43) Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 697-541
(38) Lucas Legnani, Argentina, def. (27) Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Essex, Md., 624-578
(59) Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., def. (6) Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 674-623

(7) Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. (58) Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 690-572
(26) Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., def. (39) Jason Munkberg, Redding, Calif., 638-594
(23) David Beres, Waukesha, Wis., def. (42) Anthony Thompson, Redding, Calif., 664-586
(10) Mike Fagan, Patchogue, N.Y., def. (55) Michael Clark Jr, Cleveland, Ohio, 633-577
(15) Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., def. (50) Steve Kloempken, Pleasant View, Utah, 746-605
(18) Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, def. (47) Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 608-564
(34) Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., def. (31) Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 694-595
(63) Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, def. (2) George Lambert IV, Canada, 639-578


Hess def. W.R. Williams, 777-611
Allen def. Solan, 654-508
Bohr def. Ciccone, 689-618
T. Jones def. Couch, 659-641
Gomez def. Larsen, 638-583
Warren def. Badovinac, 624-533
Steelsmith def. M. Jones, 676-598
Vermilyea def. Johnson, 600-593

Raymond def. Barnes, 733-673
DeVaney def. Smith, 636-627
Paluszek def. Steil, 603-598
Legnani def. Kulick, 697-693
Koivuniemi def. Angelo, 754-664
Fagan def. Beres, 716-678
Jurek def. Castillo, 729-702
Haugen def. Himmler, 708-637

(Losers eliminated, earn $1,350)

Boresch def. O'Neill, 686-605
Rash def. Machuga, 657-615
Kretzer def. Scuderi, 660-553
Bright def. Ciminelli, 628-579
Lehtonen def. Garber, 685-684
Belmonte def. LaCaze, 637-559
Weber def. Ishman, 567-493
Kierpiec def. Kraye, 631-555

S. Williams def. Malott, 641-598
Waliczek def. VanDaniker, 776-621
Haggerty def. Edwards, 691-594
MacLelland def. Carter, 612-593
Russell def. Munkberg, 697-672
Lambert det. Duke, 693-605
Clark def. Thompson, 660-533
Smallwood def. Kloempken, 661-607

(Losers eliminated, earn $1,600)

Smith def. Boresch, 691-576
Rash def. Steil, 644-635
Barnes def. Kretzer, 680-627
Kulick def. Bright, 635-578
Beres def. Lehtonen, 620-617
Castillo def. Belmonte 665-623
Angelo def. Weber, 618-574
Himmler def. Kierpiec, 653-536

S. Williams def. Solan, 669-619
Ciccone def. Waliczek, 677-582
Haggerty def. W.R. Williams, 710-687
Couch def. MacLelland, 667-592
Russell def. Badovinac, 592-555
M. Jones def. Lambert, 612-591
Larsen def. Clark, 590-584
Smallwood def. Johnson, 721-573