Senior Masters Poised for Star-Studded Stepladder Finals
Pete Weber of St. Ann, Missouri, earned the top seed for the stepladder finals of the 2015 United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters on Saturday and now is one win away from completing a wire-to-wire domination of the premier event for USBC members age 50 and older.
The 52-year-old right-hander averaged more than 234 on the way to a 6-0 match-play record and earned the No. 1 spot in Sunday's finals with a 659-618 victory against fellow USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Brian Voss of Centennial, Colorado, who will enter the stepladder as the second seed.
The championship round will be broadcast live on BowlTV, beginning Sunday at noon Eastern. The winner will take home a $16,000 top prize from a total prize fund of nearly $115,000.
"I've been really happy with the way the week has gone," said Weber, who averaged 233.4 while leading the 194-player field through all three qualifying rounds at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley. "I feel like I'm throwing the ball really well, I feel solid at the foul line, and I just feel really good about the way I've been bowling."
Amleto Monacelli of Aventura, Florida, Rick Steelsmith of Wichita, Kansas, and defending champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Florida, also advanced to the stepladder finals through a four-bowler shootout round.
Monacelli shot 300 in the opening game of the shootout and survived a late charge by Steelsmith to earn the third seed with a 779 series. Steelsmith claimed the No. 4 spot with a 763 set, and Williams earned the fifth spot in the stepladder with 691. Sam Lantto of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, posted a 604 series and was eliminated. He finished sixth overall this week.
A format change at the 2015 USBC Senior Masters now means the undefeated Weber will have to be beaten twice to deny him his second Senior Masters title, with the first coming in his debut in 2013. All stepladder matches will be one game.
"You always want to be the leader, and then when you know you need to be beaten twice, that gives you that little extra boost, too," Weber said. "But, tomorrow is a different day, and you never know what's going to happen, but I'm very positive about it, and I'm looking forward to it."
Weber, who has 37 PBA Tour victories and four PBA50 wins, is looking to become the sixth bowler to claim a second win at the Senior Masters, which first was conducted in 1993.
His path to the finals had to go through Williams, and that's when Weber turned in his best performance of the week. He rolled the second perfect game of the tournament on the way to an 822 series, and the win guaranteed him a spot in the stepladder, regardless of the outcome of his match with Voss.
Williams also is looking to make history at the 2015 Senior Masters by becoming the first bowler since Tom Baker of King, North Carolina, in 2007, to win the event in back-to-back years. He also would be the first bowler to win the Senior Masters and USBC Masters (2004 and 2010) twice apiece. Hall of Famer Dave Soutar of Bradenton, Florida, is the only other person to win both the Masters and Senior Masters.
All competitors at the 2015 Senior Masters rolled 15 qualifying games over three days before the field was cut to the top 63, who joined Williams in match play.
The Senior Masters is the first of three USBC tournaments that will take place in Green Bay in the coming week.
The Senior Masters will be followed by the International Training and Research Center Super Senior Classic, the premier event for USBC members age 60 and older, and the USBC Senior Championships, which will bring bowlers from across the United States and Canada.
All qualifying and match-play rounds at the Super Senior Classic also will be broadcast live on BowlTV.
To watch the Senior Masters and Super Senior Classic live, visit YouTube.com/BowlTV.