Match play is set to begin at the 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open, where Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte leads in the men's standings, and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., holds the top spot on the women's side.
Storm staffers occupy the top two spots in both divisions. The top four players in both divisions are using Storm and Roto Grip equipment.
Belmonte has out-averaged the field by nearly 15 pins a game on the way to a 6,976 total, a 232.53 average, for 30 games. He rolled a perfect game in Thursday's six-game cashers round and now is 449 pins ahead of defending champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., who is second with 6,527. Collegiate standout AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., is third with 6,453.
Roto Grip staffer Wes Malott is fourth.
Johnson, a two-time U.S. Women's Open champion, maintained her lead Thursday with a 1,234 six-game effort. She is sitting at 6,342 for 30 games followed by defending champion Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J. (6,297) and their Team USA teammate Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y. (6,248).
Roto Grip staffer Shannon Pluhowsky is fourth.
Following the cashers round at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, the field was cut to the top 24 in each division for round-robin match play, which will begin Thursday at 6 p.m. EDT. The final four in each division at the conclusion of match play Friday will advance to the TV finals.
The 2013 Lipton Bowling's U.S. Open started with nearly 400 of the best men and women bowlers in the world, competing side by side (in separate events) at three Columbus-area bowling centers - Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, Columbus Western Bowl and Holiday Lanes.
It took an average of 207.57 to make match play on the men's side and 195.23 to make the cut in the women's division.
The combined events have a prize fund of more than $400,000 and will culminate with the live two-hour ESPN finals on Saturday at noon EDT.
The men's and women's champions will face off in a special Battle of the Sexes match to crown the ultimate U.S. Open winner. The special match will be broadcast live on ESPN immediately following the men's and women's finals.
For more information on the U.S. Open, visit BowlingsUSOpen.com. Live streaming of qualifying and match play are being provided by the PBA's Xtra Frame service.