Brandon Novak paces field after two rounds at 2022 USBC Masters

Qualifying Results - Round 2

- It's been a season full of close calls on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour for Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, and he's leaving nothing to chance at the 2022 United States Bowling Congress Masters.

The 33-year-old right-hander is leading the 400-plus player field at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino after two rounds and 10 games with a 2,279 total (227.9 average). He rolled games of 289, 189, 172, 279 and 246 for a 1,175 total Wednesday to move to the top of the standings.

Novak is followed by Mykel Holliman of Collierville, Tennessee (2,271), Chris Via of Blacklick, Ohio (2,230), EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Indiana (2,214), and Kevin McCune of Munster, Indiana (2,212).

The final rounds of qualifying at the 2022 USBC Masters get underway Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern, and after 15 games, the field will be narrowed down to the top 63 players and defending champion Thomas Larsen of Denmark for the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Heading into Thursday's final round, Canada's Christopher Bédard-Chagnon and Tommy Parker of Bowling Green, Ohio, are tied for 63rd place with a 2,048 total, a 204.8 average.

Larsen is guaranteed a spot in the bracket as the defending champion, and he can improve his seeding through qualifying. If he happens to finish qualifying outside of the top 63, he'll be the No. 64 seed.

Through two rounds, Larsen is tied for 130th place with a 1,993 total.

Novak's start at the Gold Coast Bowling Center has put him in great position to advance to the bracket starting Friday, and he's ready to make a run after just missing out on some opportunities this season.

His top finish in 2022 was at the U.S. Open, where he flirted with a trip to the stepladder finals before settling into eighth place after 56 games.

At the Guaranteed Rate PBA World Series of Bowling in March, he missed making the cut by 31 pins or less at three of the events and was 66 pins out of the number at the PBA World Championship after 30 games.

He skipped the next two events in Lubbock, Texas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take a break and prepare for the final major of the 2022 season at the Masters, and it has allowed him to find his rhythm.

"It's been a mediocre season so far," Novak said. "My was goal was to make the PBA Playoffs, and I needed to have a good showing at the World Series to do that. I just missed at four of the five events, so mentally, it was kind of frustrating. That was a big reason why I skipped Lubbock and Colorado. The two-week break really has helped me out a lot. This is probably the best I've thrown it in the last couple months."

Novak's run to the lead Wednesday came on the burn squad. He finished the opening round Tuesday on this week's fresh 40-foot oil pattern in 12th place overall with a 1,104 total. All competitors at the 2022 Masters bowl two rounds on the fresh condition and one squad on the burn.

He will get a final look at the fresh Thursday to finish qualifying, and he's going to try a few things and hopes to continue to make good shots to create some momentum heading into match play.

Novak is a fan of the tournament's double-elimination bracket, and he knows from experience that everything can change as soon as the event transitions to three-game total-pinfall matches.

He was the final competitor to make the bracket at the 2017 Masters after earning his spot in a roll-off, and he quickly turned it around the following day to defeat top qualifier Nick Kruml of Downers Grove, Illinois, in his opening match.

"This is my favorite tournament to bowl," Novak said. "Anything can happen in match play, and that's what I like about it."

Bracket matches will take place Friday and Saturday, and the top five players will advance to the stepladder finals. The stepladder will air live Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on FOX. The winner will take home the $100,000 top prize.

All rounds of competition prior to the stepladder will be broadcast live by BowlTV and simulcast to FloBowling. Subscribe at