O'Neill earns high qualifier honors at USBC Masters

RESULTS: Round 3 | Match-play bracket
BLOG:Erik Vermilyea

RENO, Nev. - Team USA member Bill O'Neill of Southampton, Pa., emerged as the high qualifier Thursday after 15 games at the 2011 Bayer United States Bowling Congress Masters.

The three-time winner on the Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour finished qualifying with a 3,434 total, an average of 228.9, and will face defending champion and No. 64 seed Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., in the opening round of the double-elimination match-play bracket at the National Bowling Stadium.

"I haven't been bowling great, so to come out here and throw it well is nice," said O'Neill, who earned a $1,000 bonus for being the top qualifier. "I have a lot of confidence going into match play."

The top 63 players from the final qualifying standings advanced to match play. George Lambert IV, who led the first two rounds, qualified second with 3,423, while Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, was third with 3,410.

Match play begins at 4 p.m. Pacific on Thursday with three rounds of matches on the schedule. By the end of the day, only 32 players will remain in the field.

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.