Lambert maintains lead at USBC Masters

RESULTS: Round 2
BLOG: Erik Vermilyea

RENO, Nev. - Feeling relaxed and laid back after putting up a big score in the first round, Canadian George Lambert IV maintained his lead after two rounds of qualifying at the 2011 Bayer United States Bowling Congress Masters.

Lambert finished with a 10-game total of 2,356, an average of 235.6, on Wednesday at the National Bowling Stadium. Three-time Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour winner and Team USA member Bill O'Neill is second with 2,345.

After shooting 1,256 in the opening round, Lambert fired 1,100 in Wednesday's second round. He had games of 215, 236, 188, 248 and 213.

"It's just nice to come out and bowl well," Lambert said. "To still be in the lead at the Masters after Day 2? That's where you want to be."

The top 65 players after 10 games advanced to Thursday's third round of qualifying, which will determine the top 63 players who will join defending champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla., in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

With a hefty cushion on 63rd place, O'Neill said he will use the final five-game block to gather information for match play.

"I'm going to try some different stuff and see what works," said O'Neill, who shot 1,195 for five games Wednesday. "I want to experiment and get some other bowling balls out of my bag and see what else works out there. I want to be prepared for match play."

Should Lambert retain the No. 1 position heading into match play he would face Williams in the first round. Williams finished the second round outside of the cut number but still advances to match play as the No. 64 seed. He finished in 151st place with a 10-game total of 1,937.

"I'm confused because I thought I had been throwing the ball really well," said Williams, a USBC and PBA Hall of Famer who has 47 career titles. "Yesterday the pins didn't fall at all, but today was a little better. At least with the games I bowled, I have some idea what's going on. I'm not in the best frame of mind right now but match play is a different animal and I just have to perform."

The USBC Masters is a major on the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour and the champion of the event will earn $50,000 for first place. 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 the end of 10 games, two players tied for 65th place and had a one-game roll-off for the final spot in Thursday's final five-game block. Brian Himmler of Cincinnati defeated Tyler Wilds of Mendon, Mich., 185-134, to advance.