Return to TV within reach for Maldonado at 2019 U.S. Open


One November night three years ago, Houston's Shawn Maldonado was exactly where he always wanted to be, but it ended up being an unforgettable instance of being in the right place at the wrong time.

The two-time Professional Bowlers Association Southwest Region Player of the Year was competing under the CBS Sports Network television lights and had the opportunity to win the 2016 U.S. Open for his first PBA Tour title.

2019USOMaldonadoForWeb250x140He entered the TV stepladder as the No. 4 seed and had momentum in his favor after winning the first two matches. Then, he ran into eventual champion Francois Lavoie, who made history by becoming the first bowler in U.S. Open history to roll a televised perfect game.

Maldonado would love another chance at the $30,000 top prize and coveted green jacket this week at the 2019 U.S. Open, and he knows that getting there will take every ounce of physical and mental strength he has left after almost 50 games on four challenging oil patterns.

With eight games to go in match play at Victory Lanes, the 33-year-old right-hander is in eighth place and 87 pins from a spot in the championship round, which will be televised live on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

"It would mean a lot to get another opportunity," Maldonado said. "When I made the show the last time, I was throwing it very well and felt great going into the match against Frankie. Unfortunately, he shot 300 at me. He threw it great and really didn't give me a chance to make any good shots. I'd love another chance to make the show here."

Lavoie, who defeated top-seeded Marshall Kent to win the 2016 U.S. Open, is among the players ahead of Maldonado after 48 games this week. Lavoie is in fifth place heading into the final round of matches. Competition at Victory Lanes will resume at 5 p.m. EDT.

Anthony Simonsen, the youngest player in PBA history to win two majors, moved into the top spot in the standings late in the second round of match play Tuesday morning.

His 10,516 pinfall total, including 30 bonus pins for each of his 11 match-play wins, puts him 19 pins ahead of Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, whose performance Tuesday included the week's third perfect game.

Qualifying leader Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, is third with 10,486 and followed by 2006 U.S. Open winner Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina (10,442), and Canada's Lavoie (10,408).

Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, also a past U.S. Open champion (2005) is 35 pins below the cutline, and Australia's Jason Belmonte, who is looking for his record-extending 12th major title, is 83 pins back.

"I'm looking forward to the next block and hope I can continue making good shots," Maldonado said. "The lanes are really, really hard, and it takes both execution and luck to be successful. I'm pretty exhausted, especially mentally, because it's like a chess match trying to figure it out. Hopefully it's a little clearer in my head when I'm looking at these lanes and what I'm trying to do, and we'll go from there."

Maldonado has been a full-time member of the PBA Tour for a few years and has made a handful of TV shows. He also has found continued success in PBA regional events, so he knows what it takes to find the winner's circle. His best finish so far is a second-place effort at the Lubbock Sports Open in 2016.

As he hits the lanes for the week's final eight games, he'll look to recapture the focus and execution he found during the opening round of match play Monday night. He averaged more than 217 on the way to a 6-2 start but went just 4-4 while averaging 203 on Tuesday morning.

At the conclusion of match play Tuesday night, 56-game pinfall totals, including bonus pins, will determine the five finalists for Wednesday's show.

"I've been out here full-time for four or five years, and it's tough," Maldonado said. "I give a lot of respect to the guys who are making shows and winning over and over. I know it's hard. But, I feel like my experience is there. I've opened doors and given myself some chances. It's just going to take pure execution."

Since his third-place finish at the U.S. Open in 2016, Maldonado has gained much on-lane experience, but his life off the lanes has changed, too.

His family has grown, and he has added two more children to the mix. Along with making a good living on the lanes, he wants to set a good example for his three little ones.

"If anything, it makes me want it more," Maldonado said. "I go home to a family, and that pushes me. My kids are still young, so they don't know how much it takes to make it out here, but deep down, I want to be able to tell them that no matter what they want to do in life, they can do it. I'm doing what I love, and all I want for them is to do whatever they have a passion for."

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

Defending champion Dom Barrett of England also is in the match-play field at the 2019 U.S. Open. After 48 games, he is in 15th place with a 10,188 total. He is 220 pins behind Lavoie.

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.