After finishing fourth and eighth, respectively, in the AMF Australian Masters Saturday in Sydney, Sean Rash of Montgomery, IL, and Australia’s Jason Belmonte have locked up a head-to-head “grudge match” that will launch the PBA Tour’s 2011-12 television season on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 4.
A Rash-Belmonte re-match has been anticipated since their emotional “bottlegate” confrontation during the GEICO PBA Team Shootout in June in Chicago. During a Team Shootout match, Rash angrily responded to Belmonte after he apparently made a noise with his plastic water bottle while Rash was on the approach, preparing to make a key shot.
Belmonte later dismissed the incident as an accident, but neither player was apologetic, and both promised to resolve any differences on the lanes when they meet again.
That meeting will occur as the first match of the men’s finals of the World Bowling Tour (WBT) presented by the PBA, which will air at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 4 on ESPN. Rash qualified second in the season-long WBT points standings behind points leader, Finland's Mika Koivuniemi, now living in Hartland, MI, while Belmonte finished third on the points list.
Hong Kong’s Wu Siu Hong (coached by former PBA touring player Purvis Granger) won the Australian Masters men’s title and a $25,000 first prize with a 226-207, 259-243 victory over Mike Fagan of Patchogue, NY. Koivuniemi finished third, Rash fourth, Canadian Dan MacLelland now living in Saginaw, MI, was fifth, and Belmonte eighth.
Two-time PBA Women’s Series title winner Shannon Pluhowsky of Kettering, Ohio, won the Australian Masters women’s title, defeating Sweden’s Sandra Andersson, 236-181, 210-181, but the second-place finish was enough for Andersson to knock PBA Tour titlist Kelly Kulick out of the WBT women’s finals. Kulick and WBT women’s points leader Carolyn Dorin-Ballard did not bowl in Australia.
Dorin-Ballard won the WBT women’s points title followed by Sweden’s Nina Flack and Andersson. The WBT Women’s Finals presented by the PBA stepladder finals will follow the men’s telecast on ESPN on Dec. 4.
Both World Bowling Tour stepladder finals will be conducted on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5:30 p.m. PT at South Point in Las Vegas.